Paul Maritz, widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and quick thinking executives in the computer industry, has announced his intention to step down from his role in the daily activities of Microsoft Corporation and, perhaps, retire. Maritz, who holds the position of Vice President at Microsoft Corporation, saw his role at the software giant cut out from under him when president Steve Ballmer initiated a massive reorganization that divided the company into customer-related units. Maritz will ostensibly take a role as "technical advisor" to Bill Gates.

"This will free up Paul to spend more time focusing on strategy and rolling out new products for developers and partnering with Bill (Gates) on some key priorities around the company's processes for setting its technical direction," said Microsoft spokesperson Heidi Rothauser.

Maritz is making the change for unspecified personal reasons, but one can't help but wonder whether his loss of responsibility because of the reorg played a role. Maritz is the latest in a long list of Microsoft executives that have suddenly quit in recent months, joining senior executives Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Higgins. Maritz, who has often been cited as a logical successor to Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and president Steve Ballmer, is 44 years old. He is worth approximately $300 million, thanks to over a decade of service at the software giant