Breaking Analysis: Sinofsky the Tyrant – Is Windows 8 Better Off Without Him?

Microsoft and Steven Sinofsky already said their goodbyes, but some questions are still left unanswered.

With Sinofsky’s farewell memo, it appears that a loving father is saying goodbye to his children in order for them to grow and for him to pursue the meaning of life.  But some sources say that his departure is not as amicable as he’d have you believe.  Sinofsky’s departure may have been due to a clash of personalities.

Sinofsky may have been the company’s next CEO, considering the success he brought to the company, but according to The Verge, some sources describe Sinofsky as “abrasive and off-putting, aggressively maintaining his control over products and putting up roadblocks for products that would have any potential to diminish the Windows (and therefore his) power.”

The sources stated that his departure was planned, but Microsoft thought it would be best if he stayed until Windows 8 was off the ground.  But his attitude was something that could no longer be ignored, and that apparently was the final straw.

Internal warfare?

It’s quite natural for different departments within a huge company to engage in a little friendly competition, like racing to release a product.  This was referenced by Microsoft’s Larry Lieberman in a famous comic of the company’s organizational structure wherein the employees of the department were depicted in a war-like scenario.  Friendly competition is natural, but some were not fond of Sinofsky’s abrasive attitude and did not want to work with him.

One of the people that Sinofsky reportedly did not get along with was Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, who was hand-picked by Bill Gates himself.  He had envisioned a product that Sinofsky deemed a threat, since it will be incorporated into Windows.  Sinofsky didn’t want anything to be incorporated in Windows that he did not have control over.  Sinofsky argued that development of Windows would be delayed if they push through with the incorporation of Ozzie’s product, and the company took his side.  Ozzie soon left Microsoft.

Contributing editor John Cassaretto discusses this further during this morning’s NewsDesk segment:

The would-be CEO

This ties in with another theory that Sinofsky left because he was denied Microsoft’s throne.  Apparently, Sinofsky demanded that he be made CEO when Ballmer steps down, but it was declined.  Sinofsky allegedly threatened to leave Microsoft if his demand was not met and Ballmer called his bluff.

But most would like to believe that Sinofsky’s departure was because he wanted to pursue something else and explore his options.  Whatever the reason is, we’re left to wonder how Sinofsky’s departure will impact Microsoft and their Windows 8 product in particular.

What’s Sinofsky’s departure mean for Win8?

If the above theories are true, Sinofsky’s departure could open up the channels of communication between Microsoft departments, which will be key for Windows 8 moving forward.  Windows 8 is a highly inclusive offering that leverages a widening array of sectors, from mobile to home entertainment.  Whether or not Sinofsky’s presence was a true hindrance to inter-department communication at the Redmond-based software company remains to be seen, but there’s undoubtedly a major transition happening at Microsoft right now.

Sinofsky’s position will be filled by Julie Larson-Green, responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases of Windows 7 and 8, and Tami Reller who will lead business and marketing strategy for Windows, including Surface and partner devices.

Larson-Green is no amateur.  Though she was rejected by Microsoft when she sought a place in the company after getting her business management degree from Western Washington University, the company pursued her after hearing a talk she gave regarding the comparison between Microsoft compilers to Borland compilers while she was still working at Aldus.

Microsoft asked her to run a Visual C++ focus group for the company and ended up landing a job on the Visual C++ team.  She slowly crept up the ladder, moving from the Internet Explorer team, then to Office team and worked on FrontPage, then to Office.Net, led user interface design for Office XP, Office 2003 and Office 2007.

Win8 needs company-wide cooperation

It seems someone like Larson-Green is befitting to replace Sinofsky, since she has been around a range of Microsoft teams.  She has an idea as to what the other divisions are having problems with, so there’s a huge chance that instead of competing internally, they could be working more closely with each other.

Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8, the Surface tablet, and the new Xbox features all point to one thing: streamlining consumers’ various screens.  Everyone wants to deliver a more streamlined experience across multiple devices and with the departure of Sinofsky, Microsoft’s divisions may find they’re better able to work well together towards the company’s revamped vision of the future.