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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

November 12, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Windows head Steven Sinofsky leaving Microsoft

[This post has been updated with more details.]

Sinofsky.jpgMicrosoft announced late today that Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, is leaving the company, effective immediately.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, the radical revamp of the company’s flagship operating system.

Julie Larson-Green, currently Microsoft’s corporate vice president of program management for Windows, will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering, the company said.

Tami Reller retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows, according to Microsoft.

Both Larson-Green and Reller will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

All the changes are effective immediately.

The news release announcing Sinofsky’s departure did not give a direct reason he is leaving. But the company indicated the parting was mutual.

“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft. I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company,” Sinofsky said in the news release.

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” Ballmer said. “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.”

Sinofsky, a 23-year Microsoft veteran, was named head of the Windows division in 2009. Before that, he had been senior vice president of the group with two other senior vice presidents, Bill Veghte and Jon DeVaan. Previous to that, he worked on developing Microsoft’s Office 2007 software.

Sinofsky was brought over to the Windows team after the buggy, delayed launch of Windows Vista. He took part in the launch of the well-received Windows 7.

As Windows president, Sinofsky is known for being exacting and for keeping the trains running on time, driving his engineering team to deliver products according to schedule.

But he’s also made missteps. Under his leadership, Microsoft did not include a browser choice option for certain PCs sold in the European Union — something the company had agreed to do. Because of that, the EU is considering fining the company and Sinofsky was dinged for it by Microsoft’s board of directors.

And while Windows 8 has received mixed-to-good reviews, the lack of apps for the platform has been noted time and again.

Sinofsky has also been a controversial and polarizing figure. He can be difficult to work with, reportedly clashing with other executives and sometimes company partners.

In a memo Ballmer sent to all company employees today announcing Sinofsky’s departure, Ballmer did not speak to that issue.

But he did point to what seems to be a contrasting set of skills and traits possessed by Larson-Green.

Larson-Green’s “unique product and innovation perspective and proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda will serve us well as she takes on this new leadership role,” Ballmer wrote.

(Photo of Sinofsky from Microsoft)

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