There's something fishy about the departure of Microsoft's rising star. Martin Taylor, 36, was a favorite of Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer , tapped to head the company's web fightback against Google's new office applications, and groomed for greater things. Even had Martin Taylor lost out in an internal struggle over strategy or power, Microsoft would have made more effort to provide a graceful exit. The Redmond software giant made it clear, in a statement, that it fired Taylor — "part ways" is pretty strong in corporatese — and the defenestration suggests Taylor's offense was too serious to be overlooked. Anyone plugged into the Redmond rumor mill?