Windows Phone Manager Leaves Microsoft Over Nokia Phone Tweets

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It’s usually a company’s social media reps that get caught tweeting things they shouldn’t be, but ex-Microsoftie Joe Marini was a bit higher up on the food chain than that. Formerly the principal program manager of the Windows Phone web team, Marini has resigned his post at Microsoft after tweeting his first impressions of a forthcoming Nokia-made Windows Phone.

Microsoft typically doesn’t comment on personnel matters like this, but one spokesperson broke the silence to Geekwire to confirm that Marini is no longer employed by the company.

Microsoft has their own set of guidelines [PDF] regarding how employees should approach social media, but all it really says about content is that employees should “be smart” and refrain from sharing “new features, functionalities, or innovations that have not been publicly disclosed.”

The kicker here is that the tweets themselves are hardly what one would call juicy. The original tweet, posted on September 7, simply mentioned that he got to play with a Windows-powered Nokia device:

Subsequent tweets were a bit more open with details, like these two from later that day:

So far, all he managed to confirm that the new device has a camera, a screen, and a body — hardly anything groundbreaking. Marini (probably very carefully) left out any specifics aside from some very general comments on the devices build and UI. Still, it was apparently enough for him to run afoul of Microsoft’s social media policy, which (understandbly) bars using services like Twitter to share confidential information.

Joe, however, isn’t exactly a first time offender. Back in March, Joe tweeted that he would be showing off an unreleased version of IE9 for Windows Phone while attending SXSW. Placed in that context, this new set of tweets could have been the straws that broke the camel’s back, but something about this situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Call me naive, but I think Microsoft and Windows Phone need more people like Joe. His Twitter account paints a portrait of a guy who was dedicated to his work, and was very excited for what Microsoft and Nokia have coming down the pipeline. The offending tweets gave people just enough to whet their interest, and left it at that. Considering that Nokia and Microsoft struck their official agreement months ago, it’s no surprise to anyone that a handset was in the works. Why try to fire a guy for stating the obvious?

My money is on Microsoft and Nokia not being too fond of his jab at the device’s screen size — a reasonable remark, but one that probably didn’t sit well with the brass. Still, given Marini’s overall vagueness about what he saw, another interesting question comes to mind: at what point is a leak really a leak?