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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why did Sinofsky go ?

Both the technical and the financial communities are somewhat puzzled about the departure of the President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky, so near the Windows 8 launch.

A lot of explanations and suggestions have been made (you can check one and another to form your own view on the matter) . Personally, I thought that news of senior management leaving shortly after a major product launch and before a crucial business period (the holidays season), is  an indication for internal politics, and not for the realization of a technical failure. Why ? because such departures have their own impact, sending signals to the entire market of the corporation's products, and any sound management would prefer to avoid such signals until after a crucial business period. Microsoft's inability to prevent that, has to mean this act is politically motivated.

But now I no longer have to use circumstantial evidence logic. Steve Ballmer's letter informing Microsoft workers about this managerial change (which TheVerge was kind enough to bring to the world's attention), tells it all. Go ahead - Read it.

Didn't you see it ?

Lets compare the way Ballmer refers to Sinofsky and to the person replacing him:

Julie Larson-Green
 Steven Sinofsky
will lead Windows engineering.
She will be responsible for all product development for Windows and Windows Live, in addition to Surface.

Julie has been a stalwart leader of building compelling “experiences” from her time on Internet Explorer,
through the evolution of Office
and most recently to the re-imagination of Windows.
Her unique product and innovation perspective
and proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda will serve us well as she takes on this new leadership role.
has decided to leave the company.
Steven joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software development engineer
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.
I am grateful for the work that Steven has delivered in his time at our company.

Notice anything interesting ?

See how the "ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda" is stated, marking the clear distinction between the person who leaves the role and the person entering it ?

Yup. Sometimes the sensitive reading of internal company memos can tell it all.

Does it mean that Microsoft will put an end to the somewhat ridiculous competing fiefdoms model  ? Are different departments within the organization actually going to work together under a unified managerial vision, being able to reconcile competing departmental interests ?

Only time will tell if this is going to work, but the risk of changing management while trying to retake the leading role of the changing technological world is a clear indication of Microsoft's determination to change. One has to give them credit for that, don't you think ?