Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s long-time Windows boss, has left the company for new opportunities. He announced his plans earlier this week in an email to employees, and was quickly followed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who thanked him for his contributions to the company.
Julie Larson-Green, who will head up Windows engineering, has replaced Sinofsky. Tami Reller will handle all Windows business and marketing strategy.
With Sinofsky’s departure comes all kinds of questions. For more than 23 years, Microsoft has relied on Sinofsky’s expertise in building and marketing Windows, one of the company’s crown jewels.
He has proven extremely adept at handling the company’s many moving parts. He has been replaced by not one, but two people. It’s not even clear right now whether those two people will be able to achieve all that Sinofsky did at Microsoft.
Needless to say, Sinofsky’s departure will greatly impact Microsoft and the Windows division going forward. So, let’s take a look at that and find out the ways in which Microsoft and its stakeholders could be affected by the loss of Steven Sinofsky.
1. His Windows vision is gone
Windows hasn’t always been an ideal platform for consumers or enterprise customers, but it has found a way to stay dominant in the operating system market. A key reason for that has been Sinofsky’s vision for desktop software. Now, that vision is gone. Who knows how important it might have been in helping Microsoft chart its path in the coming years.
2. Windows 8 might have a different path
Next, it’s important to consider the impact Sinofsky’s leaving might have on Windows 8. He was instrumental in developing the software and likely had plans for its future updates. Now that he’s gone, it’s possible that Microsoft might put Windows 8 on a different trajectory. Whether that will be good or bad, however, remains to be seen.
3. Ballmer is now firmly in charge
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is believed to have an even tighter grip on Microsoft with the Sinofsky ouster. According to reports, Sinofsky was vocal in his feelings about the company and many believed he would eventually take over Microsoft. His departure eliminates at least one possible challenger to Ballmer’s position at the top of Microsoft.
4. Who will take over for Ballmer?
That said, if the rumors were true and Sinofsky was viewed as the likely candidate to take over for Ballmer, what might that mean for Microsoft’s future CEO transition? Most public companies have transition plans in place for years. If the most likely candidate is gone, it’s possible Microsoft is now scrambling to find an heir to the throne. Who that is remains to be seen.
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5. Executives should be pleased
Other Microsoft executives are likely more than pleased with Sinofsky’s ouster. According to several reports, Sinofsky was tough to deal with in the Microsoft halls and often had contentious relationships with fellow executives. Now that he’s gone, they might they might find it easier to flourish under a less oppressive management environment.
6. A new eye on Windows 9?
Although Windows 8 just launched, Microsoft is surely thinking about its plans for Windows 9. But for the first time, that planning phase won’t involve Sinofsky. Could that mean there will be a new strategy with Windows 9? Could the new operating system feature a revamped design? Time will tell.
7. Maybe the shareholders will be right: Little will change
If the shareholders are to be believed, there isn’t much to worry about with Sinofsky’s departure. On the first day of trading after it was announced that he’s leaving, stock prices were off just about $1 a share. In subsequent trading, they held steady. In other words, shareholders aren’t fleeing. If they’re not fleeing, that might mean they’re not concerned. So, should anyone else be worried?
8. Some new blood might come up
Sinofsky was part of Microsoft’s old guard, an entrenched and domineering group of people that have been in control for a long time. It appears now that the old guard is slowly but surely starting to break up. That might finally allow some young blood to make its way up the ranks and hopefully improve the company.
9. Is it a sign of Windows’ declining importance?
With Sinofsky now out and Microsoft seemingly not caring all that much, is it possible that Windows just isn’t as important to the software giant as it once was? After all, if Windows was ultimately important, Ballmer would have done everything he could to keep the man that made it so. Instead, Ballmer let Sinofsky go. Sorry, but that doesn’t sound like Windows is as important to Microsoft as it once was.
10. Other executives might get the ax
If recent history has shown anything, it’s that when one executive goes, others might not be far behind. At Apple, for example, Scott Forstall went along with John Browett. With Sinofsky now gone, it’s not a stretch to believe others might follow. Some reports suggest Ballmer is cleaning house, and Sinofsky was first to get the ax. Let’s see if others follow him out the door in the coming weeks.