According to Apple PR, Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Mac Software Engineering, is leaving the company.

Serlet has a long history in the software game. He worked at Xerox PARC, where Steve Jobs famously saw such tech as the GUI, mouse and more. Serlet worked at NeXT, as well, the company Jobs formed after leaving Apple in the late 1980s. He was promoted to his current role in 2003.

To say that he has been influential over what the Mac has become is a severe understatement.

According to his quote in the press release, Serlet wants “to focus less on products and more on science.”

Serlet will be replaced by Craig Federighi, who was also a NeXT employee. Federighi returned to Apple in 2009 to help lead the Mac OS X team.

Here’s the official press release:

CUPERTINO, California—March 23, 2011—Apple® today announced that Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Mac® Software Engineering, will be leaving the company. Craig Federighi, Apple’s vice president of Mac Software Engineering, will assume Serlet’s responsibilities and report to Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. Federighi is responsible for the development of Mac OS® X and has been managing the Mac OS software engineering group for the past two years.

“I’ve worked with Steve for 22 years and have had an incredible time developing products at both NeXT and Apple, but at this point, I want to focus less on products and more on science,” said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Craig has done a great job managing the Mac OS team for the past two years, Lion is a great release and the transition should be seamless.”

Federighi worked at NeXT, followed by Apple, and then spent a decade at Ariba where he held several roles including vice president of Internet Services and chief technology officer. He returned to Apple in 2009 to lead Mac OS X engineering. Federighi holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Serlet joined Apple in 1997, and has been involved in the definition, development and creation of Mac OS X, the world’s most advanced operating system. Before joining Apple, Serlet spent four years at Xerox PARC, then joined NeXT in 1989. Serlet holds a doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Orsay, France.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

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