Windows Head Sinofsky Out at Microsoft

The sudden departure raises questions about the initial success of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface RT tablet.

Microsoft announced on Monday that Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live group, has left the company. Sinofsky, who was once viewed as a possible successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, is departing less than three weeks after the launch of Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface RT tablet.

The company gave no reason for Sinofsky's departure. Microsoft has not named a replacement. Microsoft veteran Julie Larson-Green was promoted to head of Windows hardware and software engineering. Tami Reller remains chief financial officer and chief marketing officer of the Windows group. Both Larson-Green and Reller will report to Ballmer.

"I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company," Ballmer said in a statement. "The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We've built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and 'Halo 4,' and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. 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."

It is unclear whether Sinofsky left Microsoft voluntarily or if he was dismissed, but his departure certainly raises the question of whether the company is pleased with the initial success of Windows 8 and the new Surface tablet, Microsoft's first ever computing device. Sinofsky had a reputation for being polarizing and was said to not work well with others at Microsoft.

Little more is known at this point regarding the circumstances behind Sinofsky's departure, where he may be headed and what this means for the future of the Windows division.

Larson-Green joined the company in 1993. She was involved with the user interface of Internet Explorer and played a key role in the development of the Office user experiences, Microsoft said. Larson-Green was a program manager for Windows 7 and Windows 8, where she was involved with the UI and research.

Reller took a more unusual path to the Windows group in 2007. She was an executive in the Dynamics division, having come to Microsoft from the company that developed Dynamics, Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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