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SA-Born Maritz Quits Microsoft, Denies .NET Link

[Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA] South African-born Paul Maritz has quit his post as Group Vice-President of the Microsoft Corporation citing "personal reasons" and put rest to speculation that his resignation is linked to being passed over as the head co-ordinator of the company's newly unveiled .NET strategy. Maritz, who has been guiding the development of the company's .NET strategy, is one of the top five Microsoft executives and at one stage was favored to assume the reins from Bill Gates.

In an e-mail sent out to Microsoft staff, Maritz said that his sudden resignation was for "personal reasons". This would appear to end speculation that his departure is linked to last week's management restructuring that saw Maritz passed over for the position as head co-ordinator of Microsoft's .NET project. This would have represented perhaps the key position in shaping the future of the software company with Bill Gates recently referring to the development of next-generation internet technologies as critical to the future of the company.

Maritz was given no additional responsibilities in the restructuring although it had been widely accepted in the upper-echelons of Microsoft management that he intended to terminate his 14-year stay at the company at some undisclosed point in the near-future.

The 45-year old executive, who was instrumental in developing both Windows 2000 and Microsoft Office, had relinquished a number of key responsibilities following the anti-trust case brought against Microsoft but analysts thought this to be an indication that he was being groomed to succeed Bill Gates.

According to The Wall Street Journal, who initially reported the resignation, Maritz intends to return to his farm in South Africa. Microsoft CEO Paul Balmer indicated, however, that the former Vice-President will continue to consult with the company on strategic and business issues. "The good news is that Paul will continue to work closely with me, Bill Gates and other senior leaders in the company as a consultant on key strategic and business issues," he confirmed.

Maritz' resignation is another blow for Microsoft as it reels from a string of recent resignations of its top executives. Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold, who had been on sabbatical, announced in May that he would not be returning to the company joining Chief Financial Officer Greg Maffei who resigned late last and Brad Silverberg, hitherto Microsoft Head of Applications.