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Microsoft removed Sinofsky to reduce friction

Analysis Firm needs well integrated divisions to succeed, claim analysts
Fri Nov 16 2012, 16:13
Steven Sinofsky

THE SHAKE-UP continues at Microsoft. Just three weeks after Microsoft launched its latest Windows 8 operating system the executive behind it, Windows division president Steven Sinofsky has left the company.

While Sinofsky had been widely regarded as a potential successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, there's been little word on the reason for his departure, although it was said to be "mutual", and Microsoft issued a prepared statement from Sinofsky 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 from Sinofsky sent to Microsoft employees has since surfaced that claimed there's nothing to speculate about and offered a bit more insight into his departure.

"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, since Windows 8 is 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 it's proving to be with customers so far, although Ballmer has admitted that sales of its own brand Surface tablet running Windows RT have been "modest". But Sinofsky's departure suggests that 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 The INQUIRER.

"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 The INQUIRER.

"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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