In a completely unexpected move, Microsoft today announced Steven Sinofsky will be leaving the company with immediate effect. The 23-year-old Microsoft veteran and the head of its Windows division had just launched Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, Microsoft’s first ever venture into consumer PC hardware. Julie Larson-Green will take over all Windows software and hardware responsibilities as Microsoft attempts to spin the leadership change as a move to integrate both software and hardware for faster development cycles.
However, the timing does not seem quite right as Sinofsky was considered to be the heir-apparent to take over the reigns from Steve Ballmer whenever the day came. The announcement comes weeks after Microsoft released Windows 8 operating system, the company’s biggest overhaul to Windows to take on iOS and prepare for the next generation of touch-enabled PCs and laptops. Even its Surface tablet is a big bet to revive Windows brand as it competes with its hardware partners.
The news also comes on the heels of Apple letting go of Scot Forstall, the head of its iOS division and often called as Mini-Steve inside Apple. He was known to be a divisive executive in the company and other senior executives didn’t feel comfortable working with him. However, Tim Cook had a reason for firing Forstall when his team botched Apple Maps and he was not ready to apologize to Apple users. Ballmer does not have any reason, at least none known publicly, to let go of Sinofsky.
Something is amiss here and we should be hearing more about this in coming days and weeks when insiders start talking about the circumstances of today’s news.