A Surprise Exit for Windows Chief ; Departure Is Announced amid Mixed Reviews of Software's Latest Version

By Wingfield, Nick | International Herald Tribune, November 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

A Surprise Exit for Windows Chief ; Departure Is Announced amid Mixed Reviews of Software's Latest Version


Wingfield, Nick, International Herald Tribune


Steven Sinofsky has parted ways with the company in what is billed as a mutual decision. He was often mentioned as a possible future chief executive.

Microsoft has unexpectedly parted ways with Steven Sinofsky, the leader of one of its most lucrative businesses and often mentioned as a possible successor to the current chief executive.

In a surprise announcement Monday, Microsoft said Mr. Sinofsky, the president of its Windows division, would leave the company immediately after a 23-year career there. His departure was a mutual decision by Mr. Sinofsky and Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, according to a person briefed on the situation who was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Just weeks earlier, Microsoft released Windows 8, the company's biggest overhaul of its flagship software product in years. The departure raises questions about how Microsoft, one of the giants in the technology business, will prepare itself for a new generation of leadership.

In an e-mail sent to all employees Monday evening, Mr. Ballmer said that Mr. Sinofsky's decision to leave Microsoft had come at the start of a "new era" for the company, with the release of new products like Windows 8.

"I am grateful for the work that Steven has delivered in his time at our company," Mr. Ballmer said in the e-mail. Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman, said Mr. Sinofsky was not available for an interview.

In a statement announcing his departure, Mr. Sinofsky, 47, said, "I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company."

Mr. Sinofsky was viewed as one of the most competent managers at Microsoft, and he earned high marks for helping to improve the quality of its software after the company released Windows Vista, a widely criticized version of the operating system. A former technical assistant to Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, he was known to be a big admirer of Apple's attention to detail in its products. …

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