Top Windows Exec Steven Sinofsky Abruptly Exits Microsoft

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live group, and widely considered a possible successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, has unexpectedly left the company.

Microsoft announced the departure of Sinofsky, the front man for the development of Windows 8 and a Microsoft veteran of more than two decades, late on Monday -- less than three weeks after the high-profile and long-awaited launch of Windows 8, the most important revamp of the operating system since Windows 95.

The company gave no reason for Sinofsky's departure but appointed Julie Larson-Green as head of Windows hardware and software engineering, while Tami Reller will remain chief financial officer and chief marketing officer. Microsoft said Reller will take over the overall Windows business.

Larson-Green is also a Microsoft veteran, having 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.

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.


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.