J Allard ousted over Courier decision?

J Allard championed the Courier project In more Microsoft news, one of Microsoft’s most anticipated products on the last 6 months has been the Microsoft Courier, an advanced note-taking device with both pen and finger input.  Unfortunately Microsoft has recently announced that the device was never really intended to be a product, and has now been dropped.

According to Mary Jo Foley from the ZDNet blog there is much more to the story than that.  Apparently the device was J Allard’s, who steered the XBox 360 to success, pet project, and one he took personal offense from when it was cancelled.

Engadget claimed this resulted in a heated exchange with Steve Ballmer and with Allard eventually “being shown the door”.  At present he is on a lengthy sabbatical that may see him never return to Microsoft.

According to Mary Jo’s sources Allard was somewhat of a visionary in the company.

“Allard was a key guy on Xbox and organizationally he was set up to drive innovations like Courier. He was one of the few there that really was willing to think outside the box and has people working on top secret projects off the main campus….He was regarded as being a bit (Apple CEO Steve) Jobs like in that he understood the importance of design, not just function. Hence if he departs Microsoft would lose an important design advocate and innovator.”

This is of course exactly the kind of talent Microsoft is loathe to lose at this moment, so we certainly hope both J Allard and Microsoft rethink their differences, and not see Microsoft again waiting 3 years to emulate their successful competitors.

Read more at Mary Jo Foley’s ZDNet blog here.