Windows Phone execs keep shuffling: App Store merge mulled

Microsoft's Windows Phone team has lost another top-tier exec, as the company's General Manager for Developer and Marketplace, Matt Bencke, has been quietly moved to the Xbox LIVE team. Bencke's role changed at the end of November, ZDNet's sources claim, preceding Windows Phone chief Andy Lees being apparently "benched" for over-promising and under-delivering; the shift could be a sign that Microsoft is looking to move Windows Phone – or its marketing, at least – into the Windows division.

That, insiders have speculated, is the first part of the process for closer integration of Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Although unconfirmed by Microsoft – and indeed the company refuses to comment on it – one belief is that the two platforms will merge their respective app stores, the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Windows 8 Store.

However, it could also go further than mere marketing, and Bencke's transition to the other team might be another step down the road to significant integration of the underlying desktop and smartphone code. That was further rumored earlier this month, with the potential for Microsoft to use the "MinWin" kernel on both platforms, itself described as "the detangled core Windows kernel/file system/networking stack code."

Bencke's role before Windows Phone was General Manager of Premium Mobile Experiences, the team responsible for the little-loved KIN project. He also helped broker Microsoft's deal with Nokia, that brought the Finnish company onboard with Windows Phone.

[via WPCentral]