Microsoft Head of Mobile Communications Out

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The head of Microsoft's mobile phone group is jumping ship, moving to U.K. mobile operator Vodafone Group to run its Internet services.

Pieter Knook will join Vodafone on March 10, where he will lead a new unit delivering consumer Internet services, Vodafone said Thursday.

Vodafone's announcement comes in the wake of press reports that Microsoft will reshuffle its executive team later Thursday.

Knook's replacement as head of Microsoft's mobile communications business is likely to be Andrew Lees, currently with the company's server and tools group, according to a report on the Web site of The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night, which cited a person familiar with the situation. Both Knook and Lees are Microsoft veterans, working with the company since 1990.

Microsoft announced another change in its mobile business on Wednesday, with the acquisition of mobile device maker Danger, marking its first move into the manufacture of mobile phones. Until now, it has left the hardware to other companies, licensing its mobile operating system to them.

There will be other staff changes at Microsoft, with three other vice presidents expected to leave in the coming months, the WSJ report said. It named Michael Sievert, currently in charge of Windows marketing, and Steve Berkowitz, a manager of the company's online business, as among those who will leave.

Vodafone said Knook's arrival will allow it to move forward with its "Mobile Plus" strategy to generate new revenue streams such as mobile advertising, and integrated mobile and PC offerings.

Microsoft representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.

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