The distinguished engineer Agüera y Arcas will be leaving Microsoft and joining Google. He has been with Microsoft since 2006, when the company acquired his Seadragon startup.

Agüera y Arcas went on to become a key software architect, helping develop and build Microsoft’s Bing Maps and the image-stitching Photosynth software. When he moves to Google he will be working on machine learning, reports The New York Times. This could prove a little annoying to Microsoft, who have also been focusing intensley on machine learning recently.

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In a blog post, the engineer described how he felt about the move saying: it’s  “the hardest decision of my life”. Microsoft’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,” Agüera y Arcas says. “It’s painful to leave behind so many wonderful ongoing projects, and even more so to leave behind such a great team.”

Microsoft no doubt will feel the loss of Agüera y Arcas. The announced depature was revealed only a few days after a new Photosynth preview was shipped to the web. In a statement to The New York Times, a spokesperson from Microsoft said: “he was a great colleague and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

It’s not very often that we see Microsoft empolyees leaving to join Google. When Google employed the former vice president, Kai-Fu Lee, Microsoft sued the company, emphasizing the strong rivalry between these two high-profile companies.

[Image via ted]