Steven Sinofsky

Microsoft has announced the immediate departure of Windows executive Steven Sinofsky. Julie Larson-Green, who has worked at Redmond-based company since 1993, will now take control of Windows software and hardware engineering, while CFO Tami Reller will be in charge of Windows business.

Microsoft did not give a reason for Sinosfky’s sudden and surprising departure, which comes less than a month after the company launched Windows 8, Sinofsky’s most recent project. In a letter to Microsoft employees, which was obtained by The Verge, CEO Steve Ballmer wrote:

As we enter this new era, and with the successful launch of Windows 8 and Surface behind us, Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company. Steven joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software development engineer and has contributed to the company in many ways from his work as a technical advisor to Bill Gates, to leading the evolution of the Microsoft Office business, to his direction and successful leadership of Windows and Windows Live as well as Surface.

Just hours after the announcement was made, The Verge heard from sources inside Microsoft that Sinofsky’s departure had nothing to do with issues over Windows 8 or the new Surface tablet, but rather a clash of personalities within the company camp.

It’s possible that his departure was already planned, The Verge says, and that Microsoft decided to keep Sinofsky on board to get them through the Windows 8 launch. “But his attitude (and skill set) as an aggressive, tightly-siloed Windows boss — not a holistic Microsoft boss — may have done him in,” the report notes.

Does that remind you of anyone? You may remember that Apple said goodbye to its senior vice president of iOS software, Scott Forstall, last month, reportedly for much the same reasons.

According to Sinofsky himself, however, the rumors are false. He explains in a letter to his Microsoft colleagues, obtained by Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows:

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.

Whatever the case may be, Microsoft is clearly losing an influential member of its team in Sinofsky. And the fact that his departure is so sudden, with no prior announcement, suggests that there is certainly more behind it than a regular mutual agreement.

How do you think Microsoft’s Windows business will fare without Sinofsky?

[Via: The Verge]