You may have heard that Microsoft just released a new version of its Windows operating system. After spending millions on promotion, the company certainly hopes you’ve heard of Windows 8. What you might not know is that, as of this week, Windows has a new leader directing its flagship product.
With an announcement that reverberated in the technology circles around the globe, Steve Sinofsky quit the company after 23 years. The question is why?
In an email to his team, published on Mashable.com, Sinofsky wrote:
“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. My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines.”
Many technology journalists are speculating that Sinofsky was forced out, that he never fit in and, according to AllThingsD reporter Kara Swisher, that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates threw his support behind CEO Steve Ballmer, who wanted to push Sinofsky out.
Swisher wrote: “Several high-level sources at the company said that it came down to former CEO and co-founder Bill Gates’s backing of current CEO Steve Ballmer in the controversial decision to part ways with the powerful executive.
The goal? To better allow various units to work together more closely going forward.”
Whether he left on his own accord or not, there is plenty of evidence on tech blogs that Sinofsky did not fit in. Todd Bishop of GeekWire posted this screenshot featuring Microsoft executives who changed their profile pictures to avatars in 2010 to coincide with Microsoft’s launch of the Xbox Kinect. Sinofsky’s avatar, strangely, is just the Windows logo.
Bishop also wrote: “Whatever the reason, for me it symbolized Sinofsky’s reputation inside Microsoft -- focused intently on controlling the success of his own division, and not all that interested in playing along with the rest of the company.”
Taking over are two women, both Microsoft veterans. Julie Larson-Green, who will according to a Microsoft press release, handle all Windows software and hardware engineering, and Tami Reller, who will handle the financial side.
Despite the palace drama, how much does Sinofsky's departure affect sales of Windows 8, or any of the products running the new “live tile” -based software on PCs, the new Surface tablet or on Windows phones? Microsoft has not released any sales data yet, and a spokesman says sales of the Surface are limited to some 30 Microsoft stores, soon to be joined by an roughly equal number of seasonal “pop up” stores for the holidays.