Sinofsky’s History: 20+ Years of Milestones with Microsoft Windows

You’ve all probably heard that Steven Sinofsky, the head of Microsoft’s Windows division, left the company and that  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,  will be taking over his position.  Tami Reller will lead business and marketing strategy for Windows, including Surface and partner devices.  Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer only had good words for Sinofsky on his departure, reminiscing how huge his contributions are to the company.  And Sinofsky cannot thank Microsoft enough for everything he has and is because of the company.

A trip down memory lane…

Sinofsky joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software designer engineer, but it wasn’t until 1994 that he was given a chance to shine when Microsoft’s Office Product Unit was formed.  Sinofsky joined the team as the director of program management and led the design of the shared technologies in Microsoft Office 95 and Microsoft Office 97.  He spent four years as a software design engineer and project lead in the Development Tools group, where he helped lead the development of the first versions of the Microsoft Foundation Classes C++ library for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Visual C++.

He was involved in the development of Microsoft Office system of programs, servers and services, responsible for the product development of Microsoft Office 2007, the ribbon UI, and oversaw the development of Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Office XP, and Microsoft Office 2000.

In 2009, Sinofsky became the president of Windows division and his first heavily-involved projects included Windows Live Wave 3 and Internet Explorer 8.  He was also responsible for the development of Windows 8 and the Surface tablets.  It was believed that Sinofsky and his team were already working on the next version of Windows so his departure from the company was a bit of a surprise but one that is said to have been a mutual decision between the company and Sinofsky.

Sinofsky bids farewell

After Ballmer sent a memo to Microsoft employees regarding Sinofsky’s departure and the new appointees, Sinofsky also bid farewell to every employee of Microsoft in an internal e-mail:

From: Steven Sinofsky
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 5:42 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: RE: Windows Leadership Changes

With the general availability of Windows 8/RT and Surface, I have decided it is time for me to take a step back from my responsibilities at Microsoft. I’ve always advocated using the break between product cycles as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and that applies to me too.

After more than 23 years working on a wide range of Microsoft products, I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences. My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines.

The Windows team, in partnerships across all of Microsoft and our industry, just completed products and services introducing a new era of Windows computing. It is an incredible experience to be part of a generational change in a unique product like Windows, one accomplished with an undeniable elegance. Building on Windows, Surface excels in design and utility for a new era of PCs. With the Store, Internet Explorer,, SkyDrive and more, each of which lead the way, this experience is connected to amazing cloud services.

It is inspiring to think of these efforts making their way into the hands of Microsoft’s next billion customers. We can reflect on this project as a remarkable achievement for each of us and for the team. Our work is not done, such is the world of technology, and so much more is in store for customers.

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. I am beyond grateful.

I have always promised myself when the right time came for me to change course, I would be brief, unlike one of my infamous short blog posts, and strive to be less memorable than the products and teams with which I have been proudly and humbly associated. The brevity of this announcement is simply a feature.

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.

As I’ve always believed in making space for new leaders as quickly as possible, this announcement is effective immediately and I will assist however needed with the transition.

I am super excited for what the future holds for the team and Microsoft.

With my deepest appreciation,
Steven Sinofsky