theodp writes "A recent Amazon SEC filing sheds light on the puzzling departure of Microsoft Sr. VP Brian Valentine in Sept. 2006. Valentine is the Gen. George Patton-like figure charged with pushing Vista developers, who dumped the still not-ready-for-prime-time OS into RC1 status as he bolted for a new gig at Amazon. Having repeatedly assured everyone that Valentine was staying with the company post-Vista, Microsoft backpedaled and explained that Valentine decided to leave since the company had shipped a near-final version of Vista. Not so. Although analysts fell for the PR line, it seems Valentine had actually signed an Employment Agreement way back in June calling for him to be on board at Amazon on Sept. 11 if he wanted to pick up a $1.7M signing bonus, $150K base salary, another $500K bonus, and 400K shares of Amazon stock (now worth almost $30M). Who says you have to shell out $999.95 for MS-Project to come up with accurate planned completion dates?"