Ina Fried

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Windows Head Steven Sinofsky to Leave Microsoft

Windows unit president Steven Sinofsky is leaving the company, effective immediately, AllThingsD has confirmed.

The move comes less than a month after Sinofsky presided over the launch of Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Surface tablet — products seen as key to the future if the PC software pioneer is to retain its position in a market increasingly dominated by phones and tablets.

Sources have said the move came amid growing tension between Sinofsky and other top executives. Sinofsky, though seen as highly talented, was viewed at the top levels as not the kind of team player that the company was looking for. The move is likened by some to the recent ouster at Apple of iOS head Scott Forstall.

Officially, Microsoft is saying that the move was a mutual decision by Sinofsky and the company.

Microsoft is dividing Windows oversight among two top Sinofsky deputies. Julie Larson-Green will head up the engineering side of Windows, while Tami Reller, who has headed marketing and served as the unit’s CFO, will have responsibility for the business side of things. Both will report to CEO Steve Ballmer.

Sinfosky, who took the reins of Windows in 2006 after a long career in the Office unit, helped restore order and discipline to the operating system following the boondoggle of Windows Vista. In the wake of that widely-panned release, Sinofsky spearheaded the development of the largely praised Windows 7 release before turning his attention to Windows 8 — a far more radical overhaul of the software.

However, he was a divisive figure both inside and outside of the Windows group.

Update: In a press release, Ballmer praised Steven’s work, but also talked about a need for “more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.”

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” CEO Steve Ballmer said. “The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We’ve built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and ‘Halo 4,’ and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. 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.”

Sinofsky, praised the company in the statement.

“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft,” Sinofsky said. “I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work