Peter Moore leaves Microsoft. (Long live Peter Moore.)

The XBox head says he wants to spend more time with his family. It looks like he's telling the truth, too.

Published July 19, 2007 11:00AM (EDT)

Microsoft execs have long leaned toward awkward exuberance -- developers, developers! -- but Peter Moore, who just stepped down as the company's XBox head, has always come off as genuinely gaga over his product. The man tattooed himself up to underline his excitement over "Halo" and "Grand Theft Auto" -- the "GTA" tat was temporary, but still, that's getting into your job!

On Tuesday Microsoft announced that Moore's stepping down; in August, he'll leave to head game-maker Electronic Arts' sports division. The official reason is that he wants to spend time with his family. Honestly, that's what he says: EA is based in the Bay Area -- where Moore has a kid at U.C. Berkeley -- and Microsoft is up in Washington. Pity about the timing of the news, though. Microsoft just announced that it would spend more than $1 billion to fix customers' faulty XBox 360 consoles, so naturally, then, people are wondering whether the two are related -- MS loses a billion, the head of that division suddenly finds he's missing his family. Coincidence?

But the company is vigorously denying any connection. Reps say they didn't want Moore to leave. "It's hard to arm-wrestle him to get him to stay," Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft's entertainment devices division, told BusinessWeek. "He's done a great job. I would have loved to have him stay here." This seems to make sense, too. The XBox 360 is just barely underselling Nintendo's Wii, and it's doing quite a bit better than Sony's PS3. The numbers may be a function more of Sony's mistakes rather than Microsoft's excellence, but either way, why would the company want to mess with a good thing?

Here's hoping that Moore's replacement at MS -- the former EA exec Don Mattrick -- has a taste for body piercings.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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