Microsoft Windows Chief Sinofsky Abruptly Quits - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Applications
09:41 AM

Microsoft Windows Chief Sinofsky Abruptly Quits

Microsoft veteran Steven Sinofsky says his departure is strictly for personal reasons, but his exit could leave the company in the lurch at a critical time.

A high-profile Microsoft executive who led the development of the company's new Windows 8 operating system has abruptly left the company, the software maker confirmed late Monday.

23-year Redmond veteran Steven Sinofsky, who was head of Microsoft's $18 billion Windows unit, has stepped down from his position.

Microsoft will split his responsibilities between two executives. Windows planning head Julie Larson-Green becomes head of Windows software and hardware engineering, while CFO and chief marketing officer Tami Reller takes on the additional role as head of Windows business.

[ For more on Microsoft's strategy for Windows 8 and beyond, see Microsoft: Windows 8 Ends Tablet Era. ]

Both will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, in a statement, said he was "grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company."

For his part, Sinofksy said he decided that, after more than two decades at Microsoft, and after shepherding the launch of Windows 8, it was time for a change.

"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," Sinofsky said in an e-mail to colleagues. "My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines."

Sinofsky also addressed Internet chatter that his departure was an indication that the debut of Windows 8 and related products, which hit stores Oct. 26, was not going as well as expected.

"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," Sinofsky wrote.

Windows 8 represents one of the biggest gambles in Microsoft's history. Under Sinofsky, the company completely revamped the user interface, replacing familiar items like the Start menu and Task Bar with a new GUI, initially dubbed Metro, that presents users with large on-screen blocks called Live Tiles, from which they can access apps and services. The new UI has generally received positive reviews, but some users have complained about its unfamiliarity.

With Windows 8, Microsoft also boldly entered the computer hardware business, introducing a tablet called Surface.

Over the weekend, Ballmer told a French newspaper that Surface sales were "starting modestly," but didn't provide more details. Some hardware makers, particularly Acer, have criticized Microsoft for launching Surface, which they view as competition.

In a research note, Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard said Sinofsky's departure could leave Microsoft in the lurch at a critical time. "While we think Windows 8 and Surface have promise, there is still a ton of work ahead to catch iOS and Android," Maynard wrote. "In our view this disruption is less than ideal and creates uncertainty."

In his e-mail, Sinofsky said he would assist with the Windows team's transition to new leadership "however needed." Microsoft shares were down about 4% at one point during opening trading Tuesday.

InformationWeek is conducting our annual Outlook Survey to explore how IT leaders are planning their priorities and budgets for 2013. The results of the survey will appear in an upcoming issue as well as in an in-depth report. Take our InformationWeek 2013 Outlook Survey now and enter to win one Samsung Series 5 Chromebook. Survey ends Nov. 19.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2012 | 12:22:17 PM
re: Microsoft Windows Chief Sinofsky Abruptly Quits
Heard the same, but Microsoft's biggest problem was and still is Ballmer. Rarely seen a more inept CEO. With Sinofsky out there is nobody left who can take the blame for shoddy and overpriced product.
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2012 | 6:42:31 PM
re: Microsoft Windows Chief Sinofsky Abruptly Quits
However if rumors are to believed, he was an abrasive individual and in fact was NOT going to be considered for the job. The stories suggest he threatened to quit if Balmer didn't name him heir apparent, and Balmer called him on the bluff.

Oh to be a fly on the walls of Redmond
Tom LaSusa
IWK Community Manager
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2012 | 4:21:31 PM
re: Microsoft Windows Chief Sinofsky Abruptly Quits
And I thought he would be replacing Ballmer
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll