Did Sinofsky kill off Windows 7 tablet design?

One week ago today, Microsoft shocked the tech industry when it announced that the leader of its Windows division, Steven Sinofsky, was leaving the company immediately. Since then, there has been no end to the speculation on why Sinofsky, who headed up the development of Windows 8, had left.

Most of the unofficial accounts seem to agree that Sinofsky was asked to leave by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but AllThingsD.com claimed that plans for Sinofsky's departure were in the works for the past several weeks. Now a new report claims just the opposite. ExtremeTech.com claims, according to its own unnamed sources, that Ballmer's decision  " ... was a surprise to both Sinofsky and his staff."

The article also repeats the many insider claims of Sinofsky being hard to work with, causing many leading Microsoft executives to jump ship over the years. The article also claims that Sinofsky bailed on a chance to have the older Windows 7 work on a tablet device, well before Apple launched the iPad. It states, "Microsoft partners apparently had a reference design for tablet hardware ready in time for Windows 7. Sources tell us that Sinofsky refused to add support for it in Windows 7."

Source: Extremetech.com | Image via Microsoft

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neonspark said,

FALSE. WPF remains the only way to make desktop apps, which remain by far the #1 platform in the world. so much for killed wpf lol. what an ignorant comment you made.

All the WPF apps I have used were slow, and kludgy.

neonspark said,

FALSE. WPF remains the only way to make desktop apps, which remain by far the #1 platform in the world. so much for killed wpf lol. what an ignorant comment you made.

Actually, that's false. You can still use WinForms. Hell, you can still use VB6 to write desktop apps for Windows 8. The deprecation of Silverlight gave many development teams pause, and many of those teams likely decided to ignore WPF out of fear that Microsoft would just abandon it too (my team did exactly that). Microsoft has a long history of introducing new technologies just to deprecate them a year later in favor of the new shiny (e.g. LINQ to SQL, followed by EF, followed by EF2, etc.).


Sources tell us that Sinofsky refused to add support for it in Windows 7.

Add support for it? There is nothing to add. Microsoft doesn't make special versions of Windows for individual OEMs.

In fact, most of the Windows team was entirely unaware of Surface. They didn't want to treat the Surface team any differently from any other OEM.

AWilliams87 said,
Windows7 tablet would have sucked.

they were around and they were so bad, ran so hot, and were so heavy that they were a joke.

I don't see a problem with that decision. Just because hardware would have been ready doesn't mean it would have been feasible to implement proper touch software to go along with it under the same time constraints they had (remember getting it released on time was a big issue with the Vista perception problem, too). It would have been a mess just like later Windows 7 tablets were.

Anthony Tosie said,
I don't see a problem with that decision. Just because hardware would have been ready doesn't mean it would have been feasible to implement proper touch software to go along with it under the same time constraints they had (remember getting it released on time was a big issue with the Vista perception problem, too). It would have been a mess just like later Windows 7 tablets were.

The base technologies were implemented and solid in Windows 7, all it needed was even a 'Theme' for touch that changed the existing metrics of buttons and controls to work for touch users.

Let alone the work that was already done from WPF/.NET to create an App and Touch environment he chucked down a tube.

thenetavenger said,

The base technologies were implemented and solid in Windows 7, all it needed was even a 'Theme' for touch that changed the existing metrics of buttons and controls to work for touch users.

Let alone the work that was already done from WPF/.NET to create an App and Touch environment he chucked down a tube.

Implementing touch requires a lot more than getting the driver and UI elements in there. Windows 8 has a lot of certification process around the touch elements from hardware stack down to the driver, that dictates power, precision, sensitivity, response time, etc.

I don't think it is fair to say someone 'killed' off WPF. There were two similar technologies at, Silverlight and WPF that runs a similar stack of technology, XAML, .NET, DirectX, etc. It was merely merged to streamline the experience.

thenetavenger said,

The base technologies were implemented and solid in Windows 7, all it needed was even a 'Theme' for touch that changed the existing metrics of buttons and controls to work for touch users.

Let alone the work that was already done from WPF/.NET to create an App and Touch environment he chucked down a tube.

nah, window 7 is a performance hog. the bloated OS would required a 3lb tablet and have 2hr battery life at best. and cost 1200 bucks as an entry level...oh wait, that is the aweful Samsung series windows 7 tablet!!!

Some time ago at work we had an acer convertible with win7 and multitouch screen compatible with a stylus
It was more than usable, but not comparable to an os born for a tablet

When Steven took over Windows in 2006 he had a problem to fix, Vista. The concerns back in 2009 was getting Windows to run on Netbooks which was all the craze from 2007 to 2009. That was the focus, no one was thinking about iPad with exception to Steve Jobs. In fact, the iPhone had not even launched yet and would not until a year later in 2007. From 2007 to 2009, the game changed, it was all about Smart Phones, no one was falling over themselves about Tablets. If Apple had not entered the Tablet market and really changed the category, I am sure Windows 8 would probably be a different type of Windows, probably more traditional in its design and functionality. Other things that really really held Windows back was Intel/AMD processors while Apple was embracing new architectures with ARM offering exceptional efficiency with battery life and just a better Internet Experience on a mobile device. Who would have guessed back in 2007 Windows would be running on ARM in 2012 and Microsoft would be in the hardware business with Surface and Nokia would be running Windows on its flagship smartphone? Who would have guessed that Blackberry would be in decline? Who would have guessed that Android would be where it is today?

You have to praise Sinofsky for the decisions he made, even if it irked some divisions within the company. Windows 7 greatly brought back Microsoft and the Windows brand credibility. I would say Steven and his team was caught between a rock and hard place and had to make some key decisions to really make this work within a reasonable amount of time. Yes, some divisions got left behind, especially Office which I personally was expecting to be a pure Tablet release.

These are the things that pre-occupied Microsoft in 2007 to 2009
- Fixing Vista
- iPhone
- Google Search
- Getting Windows to run decently on Netbooks
- Getting back credibility
- Getting people off Windows XP

Even if the ODMs had a decent Tablet form factor in 2009 to run Windows 7, the fact is, Windows 7 would just not be a great experience. What probably would have been great is even the Start Screen was available then to push on Tablet devices.

Sometimes I say, imagine if all of what MS launch now Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 were available 5 years ago?

Mr. Dee said,
When Steven took over Windows in 2006 he had a problem to fix, Vista. The concerns back in 2009 was getting Windows to run on Netbooks which was all the craze from 2007 to 2009. That was the focus, no one was thinking about iPad with exception to Steve Jobs. In fact, the iPhone had not even launched yet and would not until a year later in 2007. From 2007 to 2009, the game changed, it was all about Smart Phones, no one was falling over themselves about Tablets. If Apple had not entered the Tablet market and really changed the category, I am sure Windows 8 would probably be a different type of Windows, probably more traditional in its design and functionality. Other things that really really held Windows back was Intel/AMD processors while Apple was embracing new architectures with ARM offering exceptional efficiency with battery life and just a better Internet Experience on a mobile device. Who would have guessed back in 2007 Windows would be running on ARM in 2012 and Microsoft would be in the hardware business with Surface and Nokia would be running Windows on its flagship smartphone? Who would have guessed that Blackberry would be in decline? Who would have guessed that Android would be where it is today?

You have to praise Sinofsky for the decisions he made, even if it irked some divisions within the company. Windows 7 greatly brought back Microsoft and the Windows brand credibility. I would say Steven and his team was caught between a rock and hard place and had to make some key decisions to really make this work within a reasonable amount of time. Yes, some divisions got left behind, especially Office which I personally was expecting to be a pure Tablet release.

These are the things that pre-occupied Microsoft in 2007 to 2009
- Fixing Vista
- iPhone
- Google Search
- Getting Windows to run decently on Netbooks
- Getting back credibility
- Getting people off Windows XP

Even if the ODMs had a decent Tablet form factor in 2009 to run Windows 7, the fact is, Windows 7 would just not be a great experience. What probably would have been great is even the Start Screen was available then to push on Tablet devices.

Sometimes I say, imagine if all of what MS launch now Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 were available 5 years ago?

Stop you right here...

Sinofsky didn't gain control of Windows until 2009, when Windows 7 was essentially finished, and he stopped the 'touch' UI and device side of Windows 7. He ripped out the touch pack, the projects for the touch overlay and App store. Windows 7 already had fully built in the Vista and PixelSense(Surface then) driver technologies, which is why it already supported multi-user and 50 simultaneous input points.

Just altering the Metrics of Windows and using the TabletPC adapted features would have been enough for a good touch experience with Windows 7. (He could of allowed them to include an Aero-Touch Theme that increased button and control sizes, and turned on the Explorer touch features at the VERY LEAST.)

Microsoft 2007 to 2009 was focused on their new Bing transition from MSN, and the new API sets that were combining technologies and getting the server side technologies, and cloud technologies in place. This includes the Live group and software that was streamlined to the complete redevelopment and rebuilding of their server technologies to run on Windows NT Azure with server side support for the client technologies.

(Windows 7 was to have the Windows 8 roaming features, but to get it out the door, they didn't wait on the server side features and pushed them to Windows 8. They also wanted to fix the public perception of Vista, which everyone now knows, was bad drivers at launch, and Windows by the time they hit Q4 of 2007, Vista was smoother and faster than XP with a whole new set of technologies that Windows 7 spring boarded off. Windows 7 has significant kernel changes, but the fundamental stacks, frameworks or driver models are revisions of the new technology in Vista. The biggest changes in Windows 7 driver technologies was the Touch and Multi-Point/Multi-User backend support, and Sinofsky was the idiot that didn't think these were important to even release what they had ALREADY DONE. Go look at UMPC or PixelSense v1 when it was called Surface, there was a lot of work sitting at Microsoft that was to be at the User level of Windows 7 that he killed, even making the TouchPack an OEM and touch Driver check install, as it was promised to OEMs so he had to let them finish it.

Sinofsky was the one that killed off TabletPC in Office and HATED the technology and HATED touch. Microsoft's biggest problem was Gates wanting to get out and letting Ballmer make 'tech' decisions by listening to the wrong people. There is the Gates way and Ballmer way, and Sinofsky was a Ballmer guy that screwed Microsoft time and time again.

thenetavenger said,

Stop you right here...

Sinofsky didn't gain control of Windows until 2009, when Windows 7 was essentially finished, and he stopped the 'touch' UI and device side of Windows 7. He ripped out the touch pack, the projects for the touch overlay and App store. Windows 7 already had fully built in the Vista and PixelSense(Surface then) driver technologies, which is why it already supported multi-user and 50 simultaneous input points.

Just altering the Metrics of Windows and using the TabletPC adapted features would have been enough for a good touch experience with Windows 7. (He could of allowed them to include an Aero-Touch Theme that increased button and control sizes, and turned on the Explorer touch features at the VERY LEAST.)

Microsoft 2007 to 2009 was focused on their new Bing transition from MSN, and the new API sets that were combining technologies and getting the server side technologies, and cloud technologies in place. This includes the Live group and software that was streamlined to the complete redevelopment and rebuilding of their server technologies to run on Windows NT Azure with server side support for the client technologies.

(Windows 7 was to have the Windows 8 roaming features, but to get it out the door, they didn't wait on the server side features and pushed them to Windows 8. They also wanted to fix the public perception of Vista, which everyone now knows, was bad drivers at launch, and Windows by the time they hit Q4 of 2007, Vista was smoother and faster than XP with a whole new set of technologies that Windows 7 spring boarded off. Windows 7 has significant kernel changes, but the fundamental stacks, frameworks or driver models are revisions of the new technology in Vista. The biggest changes in Windows 7 driver technologies was the Touch and Multi-Point/Multi-User backend support, and Sinofsky was the idiot that didn't think these were important to even release what they had ALREADY DONE. Go look at UMPC or PixelSense v1 when it was called Surface, there was a lot of work sitting at Microsoft that was to be at the User level of Windows 7 that he killed, even making the TouchPack an OEM and touch Driver check install, as it was promised to OEMs so he had to let them finish it.

Sinofsky was the one that killed off TabletPC in Office and HATED the technology and HATED touch. Microsoft's biggest problem was Gates wanting to get out and letting Ballmer make 'tech' decisions by listening to the wrong people. There is the Gates way and Ballmer way, and Sinofsky was a Ballmer guy that screwed Microsoft time and time again.

Why do you keep claiming someone 'hated' a technology? Someone must have good reason to be hating something, do you claim to know the reason as well? NUI in various forms have been a focus at Microsoft. If he hated touch UI so much by your logic there would never be Windows 8.

lonesomeroad said,

Why do you keep claiming someone 'hated' a technology? Someone must have good reason to be hating something, do you claim to know the reason as well? NUI in various forms have been a focus at Microsoft. If he hated touch UI so much by your logic there would never be Windows 8.

Lonesomeroad, I'm glad you said something.

No offense to thenetavenger, but much of what you are saying is opinion claiming to fact with a huge smack of displeasure for the man. For example, when you talk about Sinofsky taking over Windows 7 when it was essentially finished, and not giving any credit to him, you are saying the exactly the opposite of what every tech journalist has said. Two journalists that cover Microsoft to a great degree (Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley) both have given credit to Sinofsky for Windows 7 while railing on him for many other issues. They don't like Sinosfsky by any means, in fact Mary Jo really dislikes him, but they said that Sinofsky was the man who righted the ship with Windows.

So my thoughts then go to why do you call him an idiot? Do you have some skin in the game? Are you a disgruntled Microsoft employee? If you have some sort of inside info, then you need to be a journalist and not just a commenter on Neowin.

With regard specifically to touch and Windows 7, I personal don't care if they had 50 points of input and blah blah blah. Turning Windows 7 into a touch device with some sort of new skin is a terrible idea. That's my opinion, not fact. Microsoft needed to create a new product to compete with Apple's new product for tablets, it's that simple. Now I can understand an argument on maybe turning the Windows phone 7 OS into a tablet and leaving Windows 8 as more of just a desktop OS. That makes sense from those who have made that point. Continuing down the path of tabletfying Windows 7, however, is the same nonsense Microsoft has been pushing since 2000 which led to Apple beating them in the tablet space.

Maybe Sinofsky was a terrible manager and ruffled too many feathers, but I do think he had it right killing off a Windows 7 tablet.

DRock said,

Lonesomeroad, I'm glad you said something.

No offense to thenetavenger, but much of what you are saying is opinion claiming to fact with a huge smack of displeasure for the man. For example, when you talk about Sinofsky taking over Windows 7 when it was essentially finished, and not giving any credit to him, you are saying the exactly the opposite of what every tech journalist has said. Two journalists that cover Microsoft to a great degree (Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley) both have given credit to Sinofsky for Windows 7 while railing on him for many other issues. They don't like Sinosfsky by any means, in fact Mary Jo really dislikes him, but they said that Sinofsky was the man who righted the ship with Windows.

So my thoughts then go to why do you call him an idiot? Do you have some skin in the game? Are you a disgruntled Microsoft employee? If you have some sort of inside info, then you need to be a journalist and not just a commenter on Neowin.

With regard specifically to touch and Windows 7, I personal don't care if they had 50 points of input and blah blah blah. Turning Windows 7 into a touch device with some sort of new skin is a terrible idea. That's my opinion, not fact. Microsoft needed to create a new product to compete with Apple's new product for tablets, it's that simple. Now I can understand an argument on maybe turning the Windows phone 7 OS into a tablet and leaving Windows 8 as more of just a desktop OS. That makes sense from those who have made that point. Continuing down the path of tabletfying Windows 7, however, is the same nonsense Microsoft has been pushing since 2000 which led to Apple beating them in the tablet space.

Maybe Sinofsky was a terrible manager and ruffled too many feathers, but I do think he had it right killing off a Windows 7 tablet.

No offence but you are being short sighted about the Windows 7 "touch tech".

It was supposed to support the same type of programs what Surface 1 & 2 did (PixelSense). Go check out some videos. Some of the apps make Metro apps look like a joke.

This is more about the direction MS could have gone with their tech and their timing.

FunkyMike said,

No offence but you are being short sighted about the Windows 7 "touch tech".

It was supposed to support the same type of programs what Surface 1 & 2 did (PixelSense). Go check out some videos. Some of the apps make Metro apps look like a joke.

This is more about the direction MS could have gone with their tech and their timing.

those systems were too power hungry. I used surfaces at PDC and portable things they were not. I got the SDK and it was a joke. yes you could use it on touch screens of the time but the machine ran so hot and the power demands were so great that not even with todays hardware could you do it.

For the sake of this man's reputation, someone needs to come out with the thruth to stop all the rumours.

It's still possible that he was thinking of moving on, and MS asked him to stay for this last project. He was an ******* of a boss, but he still got **** done didn't he.

atifsh said,
when or where does it says microsoft killed media center????? yes that was old rumor but never came true... heck its even free for limited time!
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs

MS killed it because they backstabbed the Media Center team by some manoeuvres which prevented them from porting the code. The Media Center team utilized a derivative of XML called MCML. Now with WinRT being all about XAML and the APIS being vastly different to MCML there was a problem.

There was infighting .. late information etc etc. Read up on it.

Feature Packs is a burial site.

FunkyMike said,
MS killed it because they backstabbed the Media Center team

MS likes to do that - an obvious example would be the "Windows Home Sever"-tragedy...

I cannot confirm that Sinofsky has killed the touch features in 7, but he was aware about this. I've got a small discussion with him after RC for 7 was launched and talking about the removal of classic start menu and the fact that this affect touch capability ( imposible to use the small scrollable windowed menu on a tablet ) and that he must offer something to replace it, he prefered to change the subject. And yes - the old classci menu, even if it was designed for desktop - if set to use large icons was extremely easy to navigate with on a touch screen.

eiffel_g said,
I cannot confirm that Sinofsky has killed the touch features in 7, but he was aware about this. I've got a small discussion with him after RC for 7 was launched and talking about the removal of classic start menu and the fact that this affect touch capability ( imposible to use the small scrollable windowed menu on a tablet ) and that he must offer something to replace it, he prefered to change the subject. And yes - the old classci menu, even if it was designed for desktop - if set to use large icons was extremely easy to navigate with on a touch screen.

big icons would have done nothing to help windows 7 problems. lousy performance and battery life on anything other than a massive laptop or desktops aren't what you look for in a tablet os.

Sinofsky's run-ins weren't limited to tablet computing initiatives. The Wall Street Journal's well-connected Kara Swisher even links him to the departure of Stephen Elop for Nokia.

it also may be an attempt to vilify the man after he decided that Microsoft may not be the best place to work.. blame him for every screw up.. happens all the time even around us "mundane" ppl after all he wasnt the only decision maker out there

Probably a very good thing. Imagine Windows-7 being the debacle of Windows-8--a mongrel (oops, compromise or hybrid) OS trying to work well on two entirely different form factors with entirely different uses. Regrettably, he got overulled with Windows-8.

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