Iris Classon
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Stupid Question 81: Why did Microsoft's Windows chief Steven Sinofsky quit?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

Steven Sinofsky - image from the Guardian

On Monday Microsoft’s Windows chief Steven Sinofsky quit, after 23 years. I was very surprised, not just because he had worked there for so long- but because of the timing. If it wan’t for the timing I would have easily thought it could be health related, family related or whatever. But with Windows 8 still being so new with it’s future considered by a some as uncertain, why?

I’ve read everything I’ve come across in RE to news, and several articles suggest that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky did not agree on the future of Microsoft- a disagreement that lead to Steven’s departure on Monday. Some suggest that it was because he was not appointed as the next CEO by Ballmer. Some say he was hard to work with, and some say he was depressed, and why not suggest a combination?. Speculations are useless really, and sometimes down right nasty- but I would want to know why he quit (especially since I have Microsoft stocks ;) ). Nonetheless, I have my faith in Microsoft and wish him, and the rest of the staff all the best. He sure did one hell of a job, and I very curious to see what he will do next.
Julie Larson-Green will take over his role, she has been a part of the company since 1993. And I don’t know much about her, but will probably soon :)


As for bad timing or perfect timing- I just read in Forbes that IDC analyst Al Hilwa considers the timing to be perfect, as resigning before the launch would have made people question the product, but by resigning soon after a massive product roll-out gives the new management time to adjust and grow with the new product. Makes sense to me, although I’m pretty sure this wasn’t planned, they tend to announce this kind of stuff a year in advance - so something is up.

This is the memo he sent out (source)
*With the general availability of Windows 8/RT and Surface, I have decided it is time for me to take a step back from my responsibilities at Microsoft. I’ve always advocated using the break between product cycles as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and that applies to me too.

After more than 23 years working on a wide range of Microsoft products, I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences. My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines.

The Windows team, in partnerships across all of Microsoft and our industry, just completed products and services introducing a new era of Windows computing. It is an incredible experience to be part of a generational change in a unique product like Windows, one accomplished with an undeniable elegance. Building on Windows, Surface excels in design and utility for a new era of PCs. With the Store, Internet Explorer,, SkyDrive and more, each of which lead the way, this experience is connected to amazing cloud services.

It is inspiring to think of these efforts making their way into the hands of Microsoft’s next billion customers. We can reflect on this project as a remarkable achievement for each of us and for the team. Our work is not done, such is the world of technology, and so much more is in store for customers.

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. I am beyond grateful.

I have always promised myself when the right time came for me to change course, I would be brief, unlike one of my infamous short blog posts, and strive to be less memorable than the products and teams with which I have been proudly and humbly associated. The brevity of this announcement is simply a feature.

Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing. I can assure you that none could be true as this was a personal and private choice that in no way reflects any speculation or theories one might read–about me, opportunity, the company or its leadership.

As I’ve always believed in making space for new leaders as quickly as possible, this announcement is effective immediately and I will assist however needed with the transition.

I am super excited for what the future holds for the team and Microsoft.

With my deepest appreciation,

Steven Sinofsky*


Leave a comment below, or by email.
11/14/2012 4:49:26 AM
Until either Ballmer or Sinofsky writes a book, I doubt we'll get to the truth of this.
That said I do wonder if this is really something we need worry about. Is a platform we write for potentially going to change that much due to one man leaving? 
11/14/2012 12:50:10 PM
Reply to: Sacs
You could argue that the loss of Ray Ozzie was one of the reasons that Sinofsky was promoted thus rebuilding Windows for the Touch Era and a massive change to the Windows architecture. I don't think anyone else would of radically changed Windows so much so quickly, which I think will be his legacy. "Thank You Stephen".

Roll on Windows 9 and hopefully better NUI Interfaces to use with our brand spanking new Windows Kinect 2 or even better....PixelSense 3's....(All speculation and dreams in my head!). 
11/16/2012 8:18:00 PM
Something that I haven't read about and few seem to consider is his health. Is he alright? 

Last modified on 2012-11-13

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