Does Steven Sinofsky's Leaving Herald Microsoft's New Direction?

Ballmer Out

In what is still somewhat of a mystery as to why, Steven Sinofsky, the now ex-president of Windows at Microsoft, has left the company after a 23 year career. Rumours abound as to why, but the most common suggestion is that it's due to poor early sales of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet which were both launched in the last couple of weeks.

"I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. "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."

Ballmer admitted earlier this week that sales of the Surface tablet had so far been "modest", but he talked up Windows 8 saying that Microsoft sold four million upgrade licenses in just the first few days after launch, as well as tens of millions of licences to partner firms.

The big note in this story is how long Sinosfky had been a part of Microsoft. Nearly a quarter of a century. That shows how serious Microsoft is taking the launch of its new style, multi-platform products: if it doesn't work or you can't play well with others, you leave. It would seem likely in this situation that while he wasn't fired, Sinofsky was politely asked to leave in the wake of poor Surface sales and the fact that he's a well known maverick. If the tablet continues to sell poorly, will someone else's head roll? What about the development team that worked on it?

Microsoft is sending a clear message with this change of the guard: if you can't play by the rules, you're gone. This is a similar direction that the company is taking with the closed nature of its new operating system, Windows 8. It could be a sign that in the future, the once great open platform, the PC, becomes anything but.

Linux anyone?

Image source: DAN GLUSKOTER

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