Steven Sinofsky leaves Microsoft, effective immediately

Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows and the guy who presided over the launch of both Windows 8 and the Surface, has officially left Microsoft effective immediately. According to a Microsoft press release announcing the leadership shakeup, Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to head of all Windows software and hardware engineering, while CFO and CMO Tami Reller takes on the business of Windows.

AllThingsD reports that there has been growing tension between Sinofsky and other executives at Microsoft, and the two decided to part ways mutually. Sinfosky has been at Microsoft since 1989, working mostly in the Office unit before his promotion to President of the Windows Division in 2009. His duties as President included work on Internet Explorer, Outlook.com, SkyDrive and other (former) Live services, as well as restoring the Windows division after Vista's less than desirable launch.

In a press release by Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer says:

I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company. The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft.... 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

Sinofsky follows by saying:

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

The Verge also has this letter, written by Steve Ballmer to the team on Sinofsky's departure:

Over the past few months we have delivered the foundation for a new era for Microsoft. From Office to Bing to Windows Phone and Windows Azure, to Xbox and of course Windows and Surface and everything in between, we’ve unleashed a huge wave of devices and services that people and businesses love. I simply couldn’t be more proud of the effort you have all put in to get us here and to set the foundation for our future. At the Windows launch in New York, at the Windows Phone event in San Francisco, and again at the Build event on Redmond campus, I was struck that while externally many people look at these events as the finish line, they really represent the starting line of a new era.

As we enter this new era, and with the successful launch of Windows 8 and Surface behind us, Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company. Steven joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software development engineer and has contributed to the company in many ways from his work as a technical advisor to Bill Gates, to leading the evolution of the Microsoft Office business, to his direction and successful leadership of Windows and Windows Live as well as Surface. I am grateful for the work that Steven has delivered in his time at our company. Effective immediately, Julie Larson-Green will lead Windows engineering. She will be responsible for all product development for Windows and Windows Live, in addition to Surface. Julie has been a stalwart leader of building compelling “experiences” from her time on Internet Explorer, through the evolution of Office and most recently to the re-imagination of Windows. Her unique product and innovation perspective and proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda will serve us well as she takes on this new leadership role. All of the current Windows engineering teams will report into Julie, and Julie will report to me.

Tami Reller will lead business and marketing strategy for Windows including Surface and partner devices. She will provide broad stewardship to our PC marketing efforts while managing the line business functions for Windows. Her work on Windows since 2007 has been exemplary and her strong talents in working with internal groups and partners will also serve us well. Tami also will report to me.

We are facing a time of great opportunity. What we have accomplished over the past few years is nothing short of amazing, and I know we have more amazing in us. I am excited about our people, I am energized by our ability to change and grow, and I look forward to the success which lies ahead. Thank you for all you do, and please join me in congratulating our new leadership and celebrating all that we have accomplished so far.

Steve

This departure is perhaps as surprising as the departure of Scott Forstall from Apple late last month, and the future of Microsoft's Windows division could be very different without Sinofsky at the head.

Source: AllThingsD | PR | Image courtesy of fukapon via Wikipedia

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Wow, finally... Woo Hoo!

In case anyone doesn't follow the politics of technology, trust me when I say this is a really good thing.

For example...

If you look back at one of the major 'software' reasons that TabletPC didn't do well it was the departure from support for the Ink and TabletPC technologies in Office, that was the sole responsibility of Sinofsky.

Office when TabletPC launched initially had a brilliant level of Ink and touch support, that was 'removed' in the subsequent versions. For example, one of the main features of TabletPC and Word was the ability to pen a letter or document in your own handwriting, and still have all the features of the wordprocessor to arrange, edit and modify the handwritten text. (You can probably still find a video of this being demonstrated by Bill Gates.) It kept both the Ink and the recognized text, so spell check worked on your handwritten text.

Sinofsky didn't like the work that this feature required of the Office team and ripped it out and shunned inherent TabletPC support in Word and Excel, instead relying on the OS level handwriting popups for input and limited Ink editing. This crippled TabletPC for writers and there were several other major integrated Ink features removed from Word and Excel as well.

The OneNote team even had to FIGHT to keep the Ink features. Also if you look at the 'mobile' versions Sinofsky is the reason Excel/Word/OneNote do not support handwriting on WP7, when it should have been an inherent feature.


This is just one example of how his decisions crippled what others at Microsoft were doing. He is a brilliant software engineer and understands platform concepts well, and is why the Office development and infrastructure is beyond robust, but when his decisions hurt Windows and other Microsoft brands, it was ego versus what was right for Microsoft.

I hope the people that pick up where he left off, realize the importance of things that Sinofsky shoved to the side and get them back with the cohesion that is still missing in many pieces of Windows 8. The killing of Live without having a strong replacement set of product in place, the low priority to Windows 8 Apps provided by Microsoft (Mail, Music, etc are just oK, and not the showcase Apps they should be.)

So, I hope he is off to do good things and isn't in a place to make horrible decisions that has hurt Microsoft.

As much as people realize I am a fan of Windows 8, there are things that his decisions kept the product from being even better, and I lost all technical respect for him as he pivoted on a few key issues that were stupid.

"have more .. rapid development cycles" - I especially hope this applies to Internet Explorer which has been significantly lagging behind other web browser offerings since... well, IE6 (!)

its very simple.

If something was selling well due to the guy that maged that team you dont fire them

if its not selling well and bad feedback you fire them

Proves windows 8 OR surface is a failure.

Example HSBC dont fire their top trader who earns them £££ just because they wanted a mix up. BUT if the trader is losing them £££ then they fire him.

simplez

But, he didn't get fired did he? Nor is anyone within the retail industry even alluding too Windows 8 performing disappointingly.

~Johnny said,
But, he didn't get fired did he? Nor is anyone within the retail industry even alluding too Windows 8 performing disappointingly.

Bingo!

"I've always advocated using the break between product cycles as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and that applies to me too.
...
After more than 23 years working on a wide range of Microsoft products, I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences.
...
Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing. I can assure you that none could be true as this was a personal and private choice that in no way reflects any speculation or theories one might read - about me, opportunity, the company or its leadership.

As I've always believed in making space for new leaders as quickly as possible, this announcement is effective immediately and I will assist however needed with the transition.
...
Steven Sinofsky

Sent from Surface RT"

I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences = It is the buzzterm for fired.

Brony said,
I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences = It is the buzzterm for fired.

Not necessarily...but glad you think so.

Coming soon - "Windows 8 - Desktop Edition".
Marketing subtitle - "You spoke and we listened".
Well, one can but hope.

There were tons of rumors about how the DevDiv wanted .NET and C# and managed code everywhere while WinDiv wanted C++ and native code and tried not to use managed code. If they were true, Sinofsky's departure may have been caused by Midori (or whatever its final name is), which would make the entire WinDiv switch to managed code for almost everything.

How the hell does this thread have over 170+ replies? Was it because someone left a company with a Golden parachute or is it some deeper meaning that I am not seeing?

Hmmm. Lets factor this out - Ballmer says Windows RT sales are Modest and the guy responsible is fired... Yup, Surface RT is not the iPad killer people want. Truth is discovered finally. Maybe the Surface Pro will be the "one" or may be the second coming of Windows Pen Extensions (remember that on XP?). We will have to wait and see.

NeoPogo said,
Hmmm. Lets factor this out - Ballmer says Windows RT sales are Modest and the guy responsible is fired... Yup, Surface RT is not the iPad killer people want. Truth is discovered finally. Maybe the Surface Pro will be the "one" or may be the second coming of Windows Pen Extensions (remember that on XP?). We will have to wait and see.

1. That's not what Ballmer said. That has since been clarified, so please keep up.
2. StevenSi left. There is a difference between being fired and leaving.

This needs a lot of clarification and since it was going to make news and none was provided that is interesting. I can speculate but there is plenty of that already in here lol
I am skeptical that it had anything specific to do with win 8 if anything the overall direction they took with maybe but i doubt it. The timing of Windows 8's release and his leaving IS a bit coincidental though so i can't blame people for being suspicious on that angle.
So fired or not ?
I guess we'll be seeing more on this story..

well after windows 8 debacle and current state of affair its a way to accept responsibility....

Lets see if windows phone 8 survived this mess, but so far i dont see any sign of positive change, windows 8 needs to be fixed and M$ should acknowledge it....

He has done a lot of good for Microsoft... it's a shame it had to come to this. I wonder what the underlying cause is... certainly not for turning Windows around after Vista.

@yowanvista

I am not an MS Fanboi... are you calling the touchscreen OS a failure based on sales? Cost comparisons? Functionality? I actually like it, so I am curious as to whether you are buying into a popular MS bashing trend, or speaking from actual experience.

All the idiots who keep saying, the start button is the issue and the UI is the issue, really need to grow up. Whether I build my own PC or buy a branded one, I use the start menu maybe once or twice. I use after I install all my apps and I create either desktop shortcuts or pin them to the taskbar. With the Windows shortcuts, you don't even need the start menu. IT'S OLD - GET OVER IT. However, using the the new touch UI as the app launcher is also not that great of an idea.

Even tho I personally have no issue navigating the UI with a mouse or keyboard, I rarely use the new UI for anything. When I install apps, I hurry an remove any icons created and pin them to the taskbar. I open the Metro UI only to use a few of the options provided. I love the slick integration of Facebook/Yahoo Messenger into the Messaging application. Even tho I have download some RT based apps, I haven't had time to use them as yet so I won't commit on that front.

The only thing I am concerned with about this executive position change is, if they chose the right person for the job. Let's go back in time a bit. I am not saying that females are bad at UI design. What I will say is ones I am aware of have failed.

First, Microsoft Bob's UI failed. The concept of the idea which Gates came up with was good. The overall look of the UI was terrible. Who designed it? It was designed by Gates future wife to be, Melina.

Office 2007 and the introduction of the ribbon UI. As stated above the UI was designed by Green. Was it a good idea? I started using Office with Office 95 and every version afterwards kept the general style and look. everything was familiar. Office 2007 introduced a fancy menu for the same tasks. Instead of a gradual change, it was to radical to quick. Much like the move from XP which basically kept the general look and fell of Windows 9x, to Vista which was an abrupt shock. The new Ribbon UI was hated for quite a while, but MS stuck with it. I think an option to go back to the default one we all know would have been nice, but then what si the point of spending time and money to make changes? Sometimes it not about what people want. My argument is also, people will say well its the same old application, why gloss it with new UI changes and stick another number on it? If it is new, it needs to not only be named new, it needs to look new. Would u consider a new car to be new if it looks exactly like the model before it? I wouldn't...look at Apple. In 6 years they have made basically 2 phones. # years each they looked all alike. The original iPhone, the 3G and 3GS all look so much alike that you can't tell them part unless you are close to them. Same for the next 3 models. Same for the iPad. No innovation, just subtle boring stupid changes. Those things don't make the product new or fresh.

Now we have Windows 8 UI. It is specifically designed for Touch. The tight integration of the phone, the desktop and Xbox, require that they all care a similar look and feel. Microsoft needed to get into tyhis market as fast as possible. This is only the first rendition.

Last I checked, Windows Phone 7, Android 1.0, iPhone OS 1.0 and ealt versions of Windows, OSX, Mac OS were all clumsy, ugly half-assed UI's that sucked on first usage. Over time those progressed and evolved to mainstays. This was a radical change that will surely be improved with the next version.

I am perfectly okay with the death of the start menu. It was tiring, fairly useless and outdated. Many class 1 operating systems don't have such a button. yes it has been part of Windows since Windows 95 and NT. SO WHAT! Its a 3 decade old concept, let it die.

No one is begging anyone here to buy Windows 8. I wasn't at first, but for $40 I see nothing to cry about. IE10 is amazing, its faster than Windows 7 even on the same hardware which means I don't have to buy anything. The Metro UI skin? I could care less. I use it when I have too and I move it when I don't need it. very simple, very easy, nothing to complain about.

All these idiots here who think you can do better? Then sit in front of your PC and make it for us, sell it on the open market and we will decide if it is better. Looks aren't everything. Microsoft has always been about function. You may not like the approach and it hasn't always worked, but they must be doing something right. They are still here and they aren't going anywhere. They have never been knocking on the door of bankruptcy...can you say the same for others I could name?

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