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Microsoft removes Sinofsky to end internal strife

13 Nov 2012
Steven Sinofsky

The shake-up continues at Microsoft. Just three weeks after Microsoft launched its Windows 8 platform the man behind it - Windows president Steven Sinofsky - has left the company.

Once tipped as a successor to chief executive Steve Ballmer, there's been little word on the reason for Sinofsky's departure, although it was said to be "mutual", with a prepared statement praising the firm

"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," Sinofsky gushed.

An email has since surfaced sent to Microsoft employees from Sinofsky that offers a bit more insight into his departure and claiming there's nothing to speculate on.

"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," he wrote.

Nevertheless the timing is surprising, with Windows 8 probably Microsoft's biggest gamble in a decade, as it radically alters its familiar, if staid, Windows environment, into an all-singing, all-dancing, colourful live-tile interface, similar to its Windows Phone system.

It's too early to gauge how successful, or not, it's proving with customers so far - although Ballmer has admitted sales of its own brand Surface tablet on the software have been "modest" . But Sinofsky's departure suggests things are not rosy at the firm.

"I think Sinofsky is notoriously difficult to deal with, has his own plans and ideas. He is very much an authoritarian," Gartner research analyst Michael Silver told V3.

"You can get away with that when products are doing great and saving the company. But if they're not doing as well as company needs them to do, then they're not sure they want them to deal with that personality."

Analysys Mason, principal analyst, Ronan de Renesse, agreed that Sinofsky's reputation at Microsoft as a difficult person to work with was likely the cause of his exit, especially as the firm moves to integrate its different products and divisions to work more closely together.

"I think it was necessary as the way Microsoft is going with Windows 8 and Windows RT and Windows Phone across different products means it needs to concentrate on a combined strategy across departments," he told V3.

"Sinofsky is known for having disputes with other managers within different business units, having power struggles with others in the company and this is not something Microsoft can afford to have as it moves to a more converged strategy."

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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