Office Leader Promoted to Windows Hot Seat

Although insisting that a sudden change in top management is not related to news that Windows Vista has slipped its schedule, sources inside the company say that Microsoft has promoted a veteran executive to head its Windows efforts, according to news reports.

Steven Sinofsky, 40 and currently senior vice president of Microsoft Office, will move to take over the Windows division, according to a story Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, quoting unidentified sources within the company.

The move is seen as significant, but it is not unusual for the company to shuffle executives as part of larger and frequent reorganizations. For example, the Journal story points to last fall’s reorg of the entire company by CEO Steve Ballmer from seven separate businesses down to three.

Additionally, Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, one of the three new units, who had the ignominious duty of announcing the delay of Vista on Tuesday, is set to retire after the company finally delivers Vista to manufacturing this fall.

Allchin, also a long-term veteran of the Microsoft leadership, has been roundly criticized over the years as being an ineffective manager, among other complaints. However, he has been a focal point for Windows in one role or other since he joined the company in 1990. He spearheaded development of Windows NT in the early 1990s. Previous to Microsoft, he co-founded networking pioneer Banyan Systems.

Sinofsky joined Microsoft in 1989 fresh out of graduate school at the University of Massachusetts where he got his masters degree in computer science. After stints as a software design engineer and later as Bill Gates’ technical assistant, he has been involved with Office since 1994, according to a biography on Microsoft’s Web site.

“I think bringing in Sinofsky is a good move,” commented one retired Microsoft executive who wished to remain anonymous. “He is well liked by the company and since Allchin has lost face, it will be well received overall . . . . on the other hand, Windows is a much different baby than Office, so Steven will have his hands full.”

Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.