Barely two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, the executive behind Microsoft’s new operating system has left the company. In a statement issued earlier this evening, the company said that Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky is “leaving” and will be replaced by Julie Larson-Green, who had served as Corporate VP of Program Management, and Tami Reller, who had served as CFO and CMO for Windows, with the latter taking over business functions while the former handles product development.
“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a press release.
Starting at Microsoft in 1989, Sinofsky worked his way up through the ranks from software design engineer to SVP of Office and finally, in 2006 to VP of Windows. As head of the Windows divison, Sinofsky oversaw the highly-successful launch of Windows 7 and the development and recent launch of Windows 8. For a long time, he was touted as a future CEO-in-waiting, but he was also a controversial figure who, according to a recent CNET profile, had a tendency to rub other executives the wrong way.
While it remains unclear whether Sinofsky resigned or was pushed out, the timing of this announcement raises some troubling questions. Microsoft hasn’t released sales numbers yet, but could Windows 8 already be generating poor enough sales to force a change? Could the Surface Tablet and its scaled-down Windows RT operating system, which can’t run any existing Windows applications, be to blame?
For her part, long-time Microsoft Watcher Mary Jo-Foley sees the change of management as a positive one, writing that “I cannot pretend I am sad about the passing of the torch. I have been persona non grata with the Windows division for the entire time that Sinofsky ran it. Many long-time Microsoft employees, managers and testers have expressed similar sentiments, mostly in private.”