Major leadership reshuffle at Microsoft – Sinofsky to leave company

13 Nov 2012

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer launching Windows 8 recently - will the changes at the top return Microsoft to pole position in terms of IT industry innovation?

Within weeks of launching Windows 8, Microsoft has revealed that the man who masterminded the new operating system’s delivery, Steven Sinofsky, is to leave the company. Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering.

CFO Tami Reller will retain her role as CFO and chief marketing officer and assume all responsibility for the business of Windows.

Both Reller and Larson-Green will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The Microsoft of 10 years ago is not the Microsoft of 2012 and the computing world it dominated for the best part of 30 years has changed in a bewildering way in the past three to five years.

If anything, computing has broadened out thanks to devices like the iPhone and iPad from Apple and Google’s Android ecosystem and Microsoft has had to scramble to remain relevant.

In a nutshell – the computing world that greeted Windows 7 in 2009 is almost unrecognisable from the one that greeted Windows 8 in 2012. And while Microsoft is a leader on many fronts, from servers to cloud and gaming, it is at the interface point that it has to do most of its work … all over again.

‘The inflection point for Microsoft’s reinvention’

Sinofsky was the mastermind behind the iteration and successful delivery of Windows 8 and as the president of Microsoft International Jean-Philippe Courtois recently told, “Windows 8 is the inflection point for Microsoft’s reinvention.”

Ballmer said he is grateful for the many years of work that Sinofsky has contributed to the company.

“The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We’ve built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and Halo 4, and great integration of services, such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.”

It will be interesting to see how effective the changes will be at Microsoft, a company that in just a few years has become almost as unrecognisable to itself as it has been to many who have known the company over the years.

Larson-Green has worked and led major product launches for Microsoft since 1993, including Internet Explorer, a refresh of the user experience for Microsoft Office and the user interface design of Windows 7 and 8.

Reller, who began her career at CRM player Great Plains in 1984, joined Windows 7 from the Microsoft Dynamics division and will now take the lead in driving the business and marketing strategy for Windows devices, including Surface.

Sinofsky’s departure comes at a curious time for Microsoft and if it was planned may be his way of saying “fait accompli.” But for those remaining at Microsoft it will be all shoulders to the wheel if it wants to return to being regarded as an innovation leader in the world of software and computing.

“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,” Sinofsky said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years