Windows boss Sinofsky leaves Microsoft

November 13, 2012 // 10:44 a.m.

Tags: #julie-larson-green #microsoft #steve-ballmer #steven-sinofsky #tami-reller #windows #windows-7 #windows-8

Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, the man behind Microsoft's recent changes to its Windows platform, has left the company - effective immediately.

Sinofsky started at the company back in 1989 as a software design engineer, and quickly rose through the ranks. By 1992, Sinofsky was sat at the right-hand of co-founder Bill Gates, acting as his personal technical assistant. In 1999, Sinofsky was moved sideways into the Office arm of the company, where he acted as senior vice president before being given the Windows group to play with. Most recently, in 2009, Sinofsky was promoted to overall president of the Windows arm in toto.

The appointment of Sinofsky to rule over Microsoft's Windows division was seen by many as a response to the poor showing from the company's Windows Vista release. Under Sinofsky, Microsoft launched Windows 7, generally recognised to be a significant improvement over the Vista mess and one with which most users are now comfortable - even if it didn't manage to convince the Windows XP stick-in-the-muds to splash out on an upgrade.

Sinofsky's departure from the company, during which it's worth mentioning he will not be working notice, comes hot on the heels of the launch of Windows 8. While benefiting from under-the-hood improvements, many buyers remain unconvinced as to the benefits of the once-and-former Metro UI, a touch-centric tile-based user interface which owes much to the company's Windows Phone products.

Officially, the split is amicable. 'I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,' claimed Microsoft chief and co-founder Steve Ballmer in a statement regarding Sinofsky's departure. The remainder of Steve's soundbite, however, is notable in its completely lack of mention for Sinofsky, concentrating instead on the company's achievements as a whole. 'The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We’ve built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and ‘Halo 4,’ and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.'

'It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft,' claimed Sinofsky. 'I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company.'

The terse soundbites included in the official press release offer little in the way of context for the move, with leaked internal memos from Sinofsky and Ballmer providing only the claims that Sinofsky's departure was of his own volition. Coming so soon after the launch of Windows 8, however, it's hard to see the move as anything but a response to the luke-warm - and, in the case of a vocal minority, actively hostile - reception for Windows 8 and its dramatic new user interface.

Sinofsky is to be replaced by Julie Larson-Green, who is promoted to take charge of the development of Windows hardware and software, and Tami Reller, who adds responsibility for the business aspects of the role onto her existing jobs of chief financial officer and chief marketing officer.

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