Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive in charge of the development of Windows 8 and widely regarded as the future successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, has resigned from the company. He was also responsible for leading the development of Windows 7, salvaging the operating system following the disaster of Windows Vista, launched in 2006.
Before that, he had been responsible for building up the Microsoft Office division, which is one of the two mainstays of Microsoft's revenues.
Sinofsky is leaving with immediate effect, indicating a new bout of infighting within the software giant. Windows executives Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller will take expanded roles.
Larson-Green has been promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering, while chief financial officer Tami Reller will remain CFO and chief marketing officer, and will also assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Ballmer, Microsoft said in a statement released late on Monday.
Sinofsky had been president of the Windows Division at Microsoft from July 2009 through to his resignation yesterday.
There is a wide degree of speculation over the reasons for Sinofsky's departure. An abrasive, polarising figure, according to a source quoted by Business Insider, Sinofsky had demanded the CEO role from Ballmer and threatened to quit if he did not get his way.
However, he had also put a number of noses out of joint in his ascent up the Microsoft corporate ladder and did not work well with other business heads at Microsoft. He had been responsible for centralising development teams, enabling him to release products to deadline, but reducing their creative input at the same time.
The abrupt departure of Sinofsky came as a surprise to staff. "People walking the hallways tonight at work certainly can't believe it. I can't believe it – working at a Microsoft without Sinofsky? Inconceivable," wrote Microsoft staff blogger 'Mini-Microsoft'.
The comments left underneath the blog, though, were not necessarily complimentary – about either Sinofsky or Larson-Green. "Good riddance, Mr. Sinofsky. Unfortunately for MS, Julie Larson-Green makes the man look like a genius," wrote one commenter.
Wrote another: "God, not Larson-Green, she is so short-sighted and never original. Good riddance to Steve Sinofsky. Wish we could add Ballmer to the list. How many chances do the board of directors give Steve B? Spineless folks pocketing Microsoft $$$$$."
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