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Top Microsoft engineer defects to Google

Blaise Agüera y Arcas, a distinguished engineer, software developer and one of the chief developers of Microsoft's Bing Maps, has left the company after eight years to join its rival Google.

In a blogpost yesterday, Agüera y Arcas described the move as "the hardest decision of my life".

"On one hand, of course this is tremen­dously excit­ing; Google is a com­pany of grand ambi­tions and bril­liant peo­ple," Agüera y Arcas wrote. "On the other hand it has been hard— very hard— to detach emo­tion­ally from Microsoft."

Agüera y Arcas had been a key figure in developing Microsoft's Bing Maps service, as well as more recently the image-stitching Photosynth software. He has also been involved in wearable computing, natural user interfaces and augmented reality projects with the company.

"The company's lead­er­ship has been con­sis­tently good to me over these past eight years, and it has been a time filled with cre­ativ­ity and growth and good friends. It's painful to leave behind so many won­der­ful ongo­ing projects, and even more so to leave behind such a great team," Agüera y Arcas said.

It is not the first high profile move from Microsoft to Google. In 2004, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly threw a chair across the room when the news was broken to him that well respected engineer Mark Lucovsky would be leaving for Google.

Agüera y Arcas joined Microsoft when the software giant acquired his startup Seadragon in 2006. A year later he was in the public eye again when a TED talk he gave on Seadragon and Photosynth was well received.