Zune executive leaves Microsoft

Bryan Lee, the Microsoft executive who helped bring the Zune MP3 player to market, is leaving the company

A Microsoft executive who helped develop the company's new Zune music player and other products is leaving the company.

Bryan Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft's entertainment business, "has decided to retire from Microsoft to pursue personal interests," the company said in a prepared statement.

Lee reported to Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, who hired Lee in 2000. Bach said during his tenure Lee worked on development and deployment of the Xbox gaming system, the Windows XP Media Center operating system and the company's IP-television initiatives.

"I want to extend my thanks to Bryan from the company and from me personally, for all of his contributions to Microsoft," Bach said.

The Zune music player, introduced in November 2006, has been touted as Microsoft's challenge to the market-leading MP3 player, the iPod from Apple Inc. Zune users can download music or videos from Microsoft's Zune.com Web site to the 30GB player. Unlike the iPod, the Zune is equipped with Wi-Fi.

Lee will remain at Microsoft for a few more weeks to assist in the transition, the company said. J. Allard, corporate vice president of design and development, will take over full responsibility for the Zune. Joe Belfiore and Enrique Rodriguez, both corporate vice presidents who had reported to Lee, will now report to Bach.

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