Microsoft's Andy Lees, who was moved out of the top Windows Phone job less than a year ago, has been shifted to the head of corporate development and strategy at the software giant, a company spokesperson has confirmed. Lees, who has been working on "a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8" for the past 11 months, will now report directly to Microsoft CFO Peter Klein rather than Steve Ballmer.

The timing follows a swift departure by former Windows head Steven Sinofsky, who left Microsoft due to a clash of personalities according to sources. Andy Lees originally oversaw Windows Phone and Microsoft's failed Kin devices, but has since been working closely on a deal with Barnes & Noble to bring a reader app to Windows 8. Microsoft promised an "imminent launch" of that very application back in early October, but there is still no sign of it in the Windows Store today. Lees has clearly completed his work in this area in one way or another, so we'd expect to see the app arrive shortly.

As for Lees' new role, he will assist with overall corporate strategy and financial activities. It's not quite the role of running Windows Phone, but the timing is curious given the recent changes at Microsoft and the fact Lees was effectively benched a year ago. If this is anything to go by, there could be even further changes in the coming months.