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Microsoft Windows vet Joe Belfiore taking extended leave


The face of Windows Phone is taking a break.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore, a key member of the Windows team, is planning to take a leave of absence starting in November.

Belfiore used Facebook to publicly announce his plans, and CNET confirmed them with Microsoft. In his posting, Belfiore attributed his decision to wanting to spend more time with his family, but he said he’d be back at the company in the same role by next summer.

Belfiore has been with Microsoft for 25 years in a variety of roles. His current Twitter profile says he “runs the team building Phone/Tablet/PC versions of Windows.”

Belfiore’s current job is overseeing product engineering for the user experience of Windows across devices. That includes shell/taskbar/desktop/settings; Internet Explorer and Edge; communications experiences; photos, music, videos, maps apps; and Continuum for convertible devices. He also has managed the Windows Phone and Media Center teams.

Over the past few years, Belfiore has been among the most vocal advocates of Windows on the smartphone, regularly appearing on stage to walk through the mobile experience.

The timing of Belfiore’s departure lines up with the expected timing for Windows 10 Mobile’s release to manufacturing, which sources have said will happen in November, as well as with the release of Threshold 2, the upcoming feature update to Windows 10.

Belfiore had been noticeably missing from a few recent Microsoft events, with evangelist Bryan Roper filling in as “demo lead” for Windows 10 as of late.

There’s no word yet on who will be filling in for Belfiore while he’s gone.

Here’s Belfiore’s note on Facebook about his plans:

I have some news to share with all of you!

Kristina and I are always trying to help our kids understand just how FORTUNATE our family is…we live in a great country, we both have had amazing jobs/great careers, and all of us have benefited from a terrific educational system (and even an amazing health-care system!).

Beyond those, we also try to maintain an appreciation for what a precious resource TIME is. After all, when you have young kids, you see the time going by really fast. With Alexander in 6th grade, we already feel like high school is right around the corner. Eeeesh.

SO…after dreaming about the idea for years…and with our kids getting ALMOST too old for something crazy…we’ve decided that we are going to take our family on the EDUCATIONAL TRIP OF OUR LIFETIME.

In January we’re heading out on SEMESTER AT SEA for a journey around the world, along with 600+ college students and a handful of faculty and “lifelong learners” like us.

We think a floating college campus will be an amazing environment for everyone in our family to get a chance to see and experience the diversity all around the world and better appreciate what we have here. We’ve coveted the opportunity to spend a lot of time with each other and our kids — and we’re taking advantage of it while we can!

As for me and my job…when the trip is over, I’ll be right back at it! I’m proud to have spent the last 25 years working for a thoughtful and considerate company here at Microsoft. It’s a company and community whose values align with mine and whose management has been completely supportive of me and my family in pursuing this idea. I’m taking an extended personal leave of absence starting in November: we’re gonna visit family and show the kids the great cities of the northeast US before we leave on the ship. I’ll be back at MS in my same job working on Windows next summer, in time for the kids to get back into the normal US school routine.

We’re thrilled to share our exciting news with all of you! At some point, we’ll figure out a blog or Facebook page or…something. But for now…wish us luck and send us your ideas on what to see!

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