SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft Corp. announced Monday (Nov. 12) that longtime executive Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, is leaving the company.
Sinofsky's departure comes just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, the most ambitious redesign of the operating system in at least two decades. Sinofsky, who joined Microsoft in 1989 and was considered a candidate to one day become CEO of the software giant, oversaw the development of Windows 8, which supports touchscreens and features a tiled "fast and fluid" GUI that attempts to bring the user experience of smartphones and tablets to the PC.
Reviews of Windows 8 have largely been mixed thus far. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last month that the company sold 4 million upgrades to Windows 8 within three days of its launch on Oct. 26, a faster start than Windows 7 managed.
Sinofsky was reportedly a controversial figure within Microsoft. After getting the ear of Bill Gates early in his Microsoft career, Sinofsky reportedly frequently clashed with other Microsoft executives.
It is unclear if Sinofsky left Microsoft of his own accord or was pushed out. Some news outlets have reported that Sinofsky was shown the door, but Microsoft framed the departure as Sinofsky's decision. In his goodbye email to Microsoft employees, reported by tech news site Mashable, Sinofsky says his departure is a "personal and private choice" made as part of a desire to seek new opportunities.
In Microsoft's statement on his departure, Sinofsky is quoted as saying: "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."
In the same statement, Ballmer said he was "grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company."
To replace Sinofsky, Microsoft announced that Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Tami Reller, Windows' chief finanacial officer and chief marketing officer will assume responsibility for the business of Windows, Microsoft said. Both will report directly to Ballmer.
Since 1993, Larson-Green has worked on and led some of the most successful products for Microsoft, including the user experiences for early versions of Internet Explorer, and helped drive the thinking behind the refresh of the user experience for Microsoft Office, Microsoft said.