With Windows 2000 and an uncertain future looming on the horizon for Microsoft, key executives of the company are beginning to abandon ship. First up is Brad Silverberg, who spearheaded the Windows 95 and Internet Explorer product launches. Silverberg is leaving Microsoft after nine years of service so that he can spend time with his family and pursue personal interests. Silverberg had earlier taken a two-year sabbatical before returning to help advise president Steve Ballmer.

Also exiting is Rob Bennett, the director of marketing for the Consumer Windows and commerce groups. Bennett, who worked at Microsoft for eight years, will join a smaller startup company next month after a few weeks off. Like Silverberg, Bennett worked on the Windows 95 and IE projects.

What do these two people have in common you ask? Well, both were involved in the internal struggle between the Windows 9x and NT groups. After numerous reorganizations, including a time during which the Windows 2000 team consumed the entire Windows 9x group, Microsoft has firmly placed its future in the hands of Jim Allchin and his Windows NT/2000 group. Silverberg opposed the original gyrations that placed his IE group under Allchin's control in 1997 and left on a sabbatical soon thereafter. When he returned to Microsoft, Silverberg began advising Ballmer about the company's consumer strategy and one of the first moves the company made was to get the Windows 9x team out of Windows 2000 and into a new Consumer Windows group. Bennett, meanwhile, was also a member of the Consumer Windows group that was, for a time, under the control of Allchin. Rumors continue about Microsoft's internal struggles and it is suspected that internal politics played a major part in both executives' decisions to leave the company