Microsoft Windows Chief Departs; Tensions to Blame

Dennis Faas's picture

Steven Sinofsky, chief of Microsoft's Windows division, is leaving the company. His former position will now be shared by two other Microsoft executives.

Sinofsky had been in his position since 2009, and has been with Microsoft since 1989. He spent much of his career working on the Microsoft Office suite, then later spearheaded development of Windows 7, an operating system widely considered a major success.

During his work on both Windows 7 and Windows 8, Sinofsky took a very distinctive approach to communication. He blogged regularly about the development process, giving the massive software company a more human touch.

Sinofsky also worked on development of Microsoft's new Surface tablet, the company's first Windows-based hardware device.

In addition to overseeing Surface production, Sinfosky helped calm relations with rival hardware manufacturers that were upset over Microsoft entering their markets.

Departure Designed to Ease Tensions: Report

The AllThingsD blog reports that, despite his success, Sinofsky had become a source of tension within Microsoft. According to the blog, he often clashed with other key figures within the company. (Source:

The Microsoft statement announcing Sinofsky's departure appears to hint at those conflicts.

For example, CEO Steve Ballmer noted that "it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings." (Source:

Microsoft isn't saying why Sinofsky is leaving, though its statement suggests the decision was mutual.

Microsoft Executives to Share Windows Division Chief Position

There won't be a direct replacement for Sinofsky. Instead, his job will be split into two parts. Tami Reller, who is currently chief financial officer and responsible for marketing at Microsoft, will now take over the business side of Windows.

Julie Larson-Green, who previously played a key role in the development of Internet Explorer, Office, Windows 7 and Windows 8, has been promoted to take over the engineering side of Windows software and related hardware devices.

With Reller looking after business and marketing, Larson-Green should be able to focus her attention on improving the Windows product. The opportunity is reminiscent of Apple's early days, when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak divvied up duties in a similar way.

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