About an hour after market close last night, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) issued a press release announcing changes to its board of directors. And that would be routine, expect for the man leaving: Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and a director since March 2007.

"Reed has been a terrific board member, and his insights and experience have really helped guide us through a critical period of transformation for both Microsoft and the industry," CEO Steve Ballmer said in the press release.

He didn't name a replacement in announcing the news, though Microsoft needs one: Hastings served as the company's lead independent director.

Either one of Mr. Softy's newest board members -- John W. Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments and former CEO of Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC), and Steve Luczo, chief of Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) -- could fill the vacancy Hastings is leaving to address other matters.

"I've decided to reduce the number of boards I serve on, so that I can focus on Netflix and on my education work," Hastings said in the press release.

His agenda includes serving on the boards of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and the non-profit Startup America Partnership. And then, of course, there is Netflix, which is battling not only a tough competitor in Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) but also a tossed salad of divergent analyst views.

In the meantime, Mr. Softy will get by with nine board members, all of whom will seek re-election when the company holds its annual meeting in Bellevue, Wash., on Nov. 28. Ballmer could also use the event to name a new lead independent director.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Netflix at the time of publication. He also had a long-term call options position in Netflix. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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