[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Nov. 13, 2012.]
In a move that surprised many, Microsoft announced late Monday that Steven Sinofsky, the exacting and controversial president of Windows and Windows Live, had left the company just weeks after delivering the radical revamp of its flagship software product, Windows 8.
The announcement came barely two weeks after Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 with launch events in New York City in which Sinofsky figured prominently.
With his departure, Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of program management for Windows, will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering, the company said. She will be responsible for all product development for Windows and Windows Live, in addition to the Surface tablet.
Tami Reller will retain her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer for Windows and also assume responsibility for the business of Windows, including leading business and marketing strategy.
Both Larson-Green and Reller will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
All the changes are effective immediately. Sinofsky’s last day was Monday.
Microsoft gave no reason for Sinofsky’s departure but indicated the decision was mutual.
“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft,” Sinofsky, 47, a 23-year Microsoft veteran, said in a statement. “I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company.”
Ballmer said in a statement that he was “grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company. The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft.”
Sinofsky 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.
Sinofsky’s leadership has been credited with being part of the reason for the company’s comeback after the delay- and bug-prone launch of Windows Vista, and for the well-received launch of Windows 7.
“He’s accomplished a lot for Windows, bringing it back from the brink of disaster after Vista,” said Rob Helm, an analyst with independent research firm Directions on Microsoft.
Before working on the Windows team, Sinofsky oversaw the development of the Microsoft Office system of programs, servers and services.
As Windows president, Sinofsky was known for being demanding and also for keeping the trains running on time, driving his engineering team to deliver products according to schedule.
Windows 8 launched on schedule to mixed-to-positive reviews, with some reviewers praising its innovative design and user interface, and others finding some elements of the new interface unintuitive to use. Most reviewers noted the lack of apps for the new platform.
Sinofsky has also made missteps.
[Continue reading the story here.]