Are Microsoft's glory days behind it? That's certainly a conclusion you could draw from recent high-profile personnel movements.

Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, two senior Microsoft execs have left to join the new boys in the IT world, and one European commissioner has passed up the opportunity to prosecute the software giant for violating anti-trust laws.

Brian Valentine, a 19-year Microsoft veteran, was most recently a senior vice president with Microsoft's Windows Core Operating System division, and oversaw Vista development, will join Amazon in mid-September as a senior vice president.

In August, Microsoft announced that once the delayed operating system shipped early next year it would reassign Valentine to another part of the company.

Valentine is one of the most prominent Microsoft executives to leave the company in recent months, amid costly delays to core products such as Windows and Office. Microsoft last week released Release Candidate 1 of Vista, although you could argue that Valentine is the real release candidate - but is he ready?

The company said Vista remains on schedule, with the team now reporting directly to Jim Allchin, co-president of the platforms and services division. Industry observers said Valentine's departure wasn't a big surprise, because of his impending reassignment.

Mozilla security

Window Snyder - her real name - worked on Microsoft's security-driven Windows XP Service Pack 2 update, and had a role in the development of Windows Server 2003. Snyder will take charge of Mozilla's security strategy, a role previously handled by Mozilla's vice president of engineering, Mike Schroepfer.

"Window has joined MozCorp recently as our new 'Chief Security Something' - that's a working title," said Schroepfer in a blog post. "She'll be the public voice of Mozilla Corporation on security issues and helping to drive our long-term security strategy."

At Microsoft, Snyder worked with both security consulting companies and Microsoft product teams, and her hire may help the Mozilla team focus more on security. Snyder left Microsoft in 2005 to work as a principal with Matasano Security, a consultancy based in New York that has done security testing for Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system.

Regulatory shift

Henri Piffaut, deputy head of the European Commission unit handling the Microsoft anti-trust case, has asked for leave from his position to join international consultancy LECG, where he would head a Brussels-based team of economists working on merger cases. Microsoft is one of LECG's clients.

The Commission hasn't yet granted the request, according to Commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd. "The situation is fluid. The Commission hasn't responded to the request yet and for the time being he remains an employee here," he said.

Piffaut is due to take over the top job in the unit next month from Cecilio Madero Villarejo, who has led it for the past seven years. He joined the unit as deputy head earlier this year.

If Piffaut is denied leave, he would have to give up his career at the Commission. He could also be prevented from working on cases he was linked to while serving as an anti-trust official at the Commission.

Four years ago, Microsoft hired Detlef Eckert, a senior Commission official in the information society department, whose job included overseeing the anti-trust investigation being conducted by his colleagues in the competition department. Eckert was not bound by the conflict of interest rules that apply to antitrust officials.

Paul Meller and Robert McMillan of IDG News Service contributed to this report.