Steven Sinofsky's management of Windows ‘controversial'

When Microsoft tasked Steven Sinofsky with getting Vista back on track, and out the door, he did just that. Since then he’s delivered Windows 7 (a solid product) and he and his team are about to deliver Windows RT and Windows 8.

In a detailed profile on the man they’re calling “Mr. Windows 8”, CNET has compiled accounts from multiple executives that have worked with Sinofsky over the years and the picture is certainly interesting.

There’s certainly a lot of respect for Sinofsky, and his track record of delivering products (keep in mind that he only joined the Windows team shortly before Vista launched) and most of the executives have great things to say about Sinofsky and the work he’s done. However, there is concern about Sinofsky’s focus.

Sources claim that as the Windows group has been working harder to make Windows a higher-quality product, they’ve also been collaborating less with other divisions. Even Charlie Kindel (the former GM of Windows Phone) felt that the Windows Phone team was in an “us versus them” situation. This has raised concerns that innovation will be stunted within Microsoft, as departments are soloed off from the Windows team. However, recent efforts like Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox Music show that there’s still a lot cross-product work going on at Microsoft – at least it appears that way from the outside.

According to sources, Sinofsky was also a main opponent of the famous ‘Courier’ tablet, a project that left a lot of people disappointed when it was canned. This project was also the apparent reason that J Allard (of Xbox 360 and Zune fame) left Microsoft.

Regardless of what you think about Microsoft, Windows, or Steven himself – it’s worth reading over CNET’s profile, as it’s full of interesting insights into the management of one of the world’s most significant products.

Source: CNET (via The Verge)

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MsftGaurav said,
The fact that Sinofsky's team is pushing a new working environment/UI on all desktop PCs, laptops and existing non-tablet devices for no convincing reason and the headache it's causing shows he has no understanding of human computer interaction (HCI), or the importance of backward compatible design of OS features, computer usability, productivity, not giving form priority over function etc. Windows 7 only succeeded because for just one release, Sinofsky maintained continuity on the desktop with the concepts and experience of what Allchin envisioned up to Vista. That coupled with the fact that for Windows 8, REGRESSIONS from Windows 7 are ignored, and all external feedback falls on deaf ears is reason enough to give Windows division to some other leader who is transparent, open to external opinions of customers, giving them what they want and has some vision about usability. The folks in the UX team like Julie Larson Green also need to leave Msft. She is the single person who ruined Office and Windows GUIs completely - wonder what they will give her next - Visual Studio? The Metro style design that very few people like also shows they have no taste in design either. Design of a product has to appeal to as many people as possible to make the product sell maximum. The fact is that Windows 8 is a compromise on the desktop for a mobile market where far more growth is possible for Microsoft's OS business.

Yep. We should just switch back to the archaic Windows XP interface, as nothing else will apparently suit you.

MsftGaurav said,

Rando crap

If everything about Microsoft and Windows is so bad and ruined why do you have your picture as a Windows 8 Metro Influenced Microsoft logo?

MsftGaurav said,
The Windows 8 fanboys having strokes and heart attacks again as the truth hurts.

I support you. Sadly that I can't defend each one above.

MsftGaurav said,
The Windows 8 fanboys having strokes and heart attacks again as the truth hurts.

You should stop using Windows and use Linux then. They haven't changed UI for the last 15 years. Should appeal to you (just avoid Unity, as the some linux folks seem to hate it as much as you hate Win 8 UI).

MsftGaurav said,
The Windows 8 fanboys having strokes and heart attacks again as the truth hurts.

so accusing others who replied to you as Win8 fanboys and the tongue smiley make what you have said as truth?

sviola said,

You should stop using Windows and use Linux then. They haven't changed UI for the last 15 years. Should appeal to you (just avoid Unity, as the some linux folks seem to hate it as much as you hate Win 8 UI).


Your way of making a point seems a lot like incapability to judge for yourself and instead put good faith and trust into those who "must know best", because they put some research behind their products.

When something doesn't work for an individual, it doesn't.
Good for you if it does for you or if your way of computing hardly gets affected by any change to the UI or general UX, but don't blindly put blame on those who want to maturely state that they are amongst a not very small group of people who just found their daily driving platform to be heading into a direction they cannot favor.

Being silent about it is fanboyish and putting the blinds on.

GS:mac

So basically he has all traits that made Steve Jobs a darling of the tech press and now it suddenly bad because we are talking about Microsoft?
/facepalm

BajiRav said,
So basically he has all traits that made Steve Jobs a darling of the tech press and now it suddenly bad because we are talking about Microsoft?
/facepalm

The issue isn't his attitude, it's the end result. His leadership of Office 2007 lead to the biggest overhaul of the Office UI since the original release and while some were critical it was generally seen as a very positive move. Unfortunately Windows 8 is a very different affair, as Metro apps are a clear step backwards in terms of functionality and usability (with the exception of tablets), the restrictions on the Windows Store are patently anti-competitive and the way Metro apps and desktop apps integrate is poor (there is no consistency, it's clunky and unintuitive).

It's also worth noting that Steve Jobs was heavily criticised by members of the public and press.

theyarecomingforyou said,

The issue isn't his attitude, it's the end result. His leadership of Office 2007 lead to the biggest overhaul of the Office UI since the original release and while some were critical it was generally seen as a very positive move. Unfortunately Windows 8 is a very different affair, as Metro apps are a clear step backwards in terms of functionality and usability (with the exception of tablets), the restrictions on the Windows Store are patently anti-competitive and the way Metro apps and desktop apps integrate is poor (there is no consistency, it's clunky and unintuitive).

It's also worth noting that Steve Jobs was heavily criticised by members of the public and press.

It's been said time and time and time and time again but it still hasn't got through to you people... METRO APPS ARE NOT COMPULSORY TO USE. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THEM OR THINK THEY LACK FUNCTIONALITY THEN DON'T USE THEM. The desktop tile is right there, click it and all YOUR problems are gone...

ingramator said,
The desktop tile is right there, click it and all YOUR problems are gone...

That completely ignores the Metroisation of the desktop experience. You want to change network? Metro. Want to shut down your computer? Metro. Want to search for something on the Start Screen? Metro. Want to change the lock screen? Metro. Change the Start Screen background? Metro. Want to play Solitaire? Metro. Play an MP3? Defaults to Metro. Play a video? Defaults to Metro. Bring up the Ctrl-Alt-Del screen? Metro. Open a PDF? Defaults to Metro. Open a photo? Defaults to Metro.

While I still consider the desktop experience to be an improvement over Windows 7 - especially with the new Task Manager, Storage Spaces and multi-monitor improvements - the decision to pursue Metro has come at the expense of the user experience on the desktop. And people are right to be concerned about the monopolistic powerplay with the Windows Store. Do you really think Microsoft is going to look at all the money coming in from the Windows Store and not move Windows in that direction? That's incredibly naive.

theyarecomingforyou said,

That completely ignores the Metroisation of the desktop experience. You want to change network? Metro. Want to shut down your computer? Metro. Want to search for something on the Start Screen? Metro. Want to change the lock screen? Metro. Change the Start Screen background? Metro. Want to play Solitaire? Metro. Play an MP3? Defaults to Metro. Play a video? Defaults to Metro. Bring up the Ctrl-Alt-Del screen? Metro. Open a PDF? Defaults to Metro. Open a photo? Defaults to Metro.

While I still consider the desktop experience to be an improvement over Windows 7 - especially with the new Task Manager, Storage Spaces and multi-monitor improvements - the decision to pursue Metro has come at the expense of the user experience on the desktop. And people are right to be concerned about the monopolistic powerplay with the Windows Store. Do you really think Microsoft is going to look at all the money coming in from the Windows Store and not move Windows in that direction? That's incredibly naive.

You're luck you even got a desktop, Metro and tiles are thew way forward for MS and nothing a few people with attachment issues say will change that
I suggest either getting over it or switching to Linux if you want a never changing UI on your PC

I read somewhere that Sinofsky drastically reduced the height of the Windows team hierarchy - there are only 3 or 4 levels between him and an intern. Also, he treats everyone with respect and takes feedback from anyone within his team.
I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people disliked him for reducing the power & respect they once had, as well as the number of people they control.

He's doing a great job thus far. Every windows distro has had it's fair share of problems in the beginning and has gotten better over time:

Windows 2000 and XP - Buggy drivers, people didn't like the start menu redesign
Vista - Bugs and Drivers. Need I say more?
Windows 7 - Damaged MP3 files and rendered them useless
Windows 8 - (some) Drivers and buggy Metro apps. People didn't like the new start menu.

Tyler R. said,
He's doing a great job thus far. Every windows distro has had it's fair share of problems in the beginning and has gotten better over time:

Windows 2000 and XP - Buggy drivers, people didn't like the start menu redesign
Vista - Bugs and Drivers. Need I say more?
Windows 7 - Damaged MP3 files and rendered them useless
Windows 8 - (some) Drivers and buggy Metro apps. People didn't like the new start menu.

Well, to be fair, he wasn't involved in Windows before Vista, and only joined Windows team at the end of the Vista development cycle, to make sure it would be deployed, as it was already 2 years behind schedule.

Also, buggy apps is not responsibility of the Windows team, it's of the app dev team.

Tyler R. said,

Windows 7 - Damaged MP3 files and rendered them useless
Windows 8 - (some) Drivers and buggy Metro apps. People didn't like the new start menu.

To be fair, that MP3 bug was caught quickly and fixed in Windows 7's beta.

Also Windows 8's release preview (might have been consumer?) had a sporadic freezing bug that affected a couple of users.

Denis W said,

To be fair, that MP3 bug was caught quickly and fixed in Windows 7's beta.

Also Windows 8's release preview (might have been consumer?) had a sporadic freezing bug that affected a couple of users.

True. Is that windows 8 bug the one that got Steve S. in his keynote?

I do admire Sinofsky he has managed to get some great products out, to me after reading the article he seems to add much needed focus to Microsoft, during the 2000's it seemed that Microsoft was using the pasta against the wall technique and throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck, this led to loads of services and products which lacked cohesion, some were a success but many were not.

Im not a fan of Windows 8, i have given it a solid trial for a month but im not a fan of the UI. I can see how it will work on tablets but i don't like using it on my PC, i love change but this one is not for me, however this is going slightly off topic.

I think that Sinofsky has brought in cohesion in the Consumer windows space, with the release of a desktop, tablet and mobile phone OS with a uniform UI and operation, i think they have done very well to do this. Some people will compare Sinofsky with Steve Jobs, i would say one of the best quailities of Steve Jobs was his ability to say no, for example if he was still alive i know SJ would have never in a million years allow the new apple maps to be released, i get the feeling that Sinofsky would be the same.

Sinofsky's the draconian guy responsible for all the turmoil in the development division. He "doesn't like" managed code, so Windows div is now setting the direction for dev div, which has been tremendously successful on its own up to this point. It's a shame that we're seeing Microsoft play up severely limited technologies like HTML5/JS and the WinRT API while the future is uncertain, and somewhat dark for powerful and productive tech like .Net and WPF.
Sinofsky's doing important things with the direction of Windows, but he's directing a whole lot od detrimental changes of direction in the development side.

IMHO, the main problem with windows 8 is that he added features that nobody asked (and nobody likes). The question is, why?. May be he is pavenmented a touch future but, right now, windows 8 is neither desktop nor tablet but a weird hybrid.

I guess the only good achievement of Sinofsky's is getting rid of piracy in windows.
I guess not even the pirates would want that garbage of OS I'm speeking of metro not the desktop.

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