Microsoft has announced that they are parting ways with the man behind Windows 8, mere weeks after the release of the company’s most aggressive launch in decades, sparking debate over just what caused the unexpected shake-up.
With rumors swirling over what exactly caused Sinofsky’s departure, analysts have speculated that he is being blamed for a slow start to Windows 8 and the Surface RT, his decision to do away with the Windows start button, his alleged attempt to take over Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, and many other scenarios. Despite the chatter, there has still been no official confirmation that he was fired, leaving others to speculate that he left over some internal dispute.
Given the bad timing – Windows 8 and the Surface RT were released on a few weeks ago – something is definitely up. Sinofsky appeared on stage on release day, something that would be unlikely had either he or the company known that he would be departing so soon afterwards.
The Windows 8 and Surface RT Angle
The first major source of gossip rests on poor sales of Windows 8 and the Surface RT out of the gate, though Microsoft has yet to confirm any sales numbers for either. This theory suggests that, as head of Microsoft’s Windows division, and apparently the final vote behind the tossing of the much-disputed start button in Windows 8, Sinofsky is being canned by company brass for failing to deliver on some very big promises.
This seems a real possibility, though a bit early for Microsoft to be making rash decisions; there was never any doubt that Windows 8 would be adopted slowly, and the Surface RT entered an already saturated tablet market that everyone understood would take some time to accept it, if at all.
The Windows Phone Angle
This week, new rumors have emerged that Sinofsky was waging something of an epic war at Microsoft in an effort to take over the company’s Windows Phone and Developer divisions, as well as maintaining his post as head of the Windows division, something that CEO Steve Ballmer and other top executives staunchly blocked. This new came from apparent sources within Microsoft, though the original report left them all anonymous.
For his part Sinofsky has firmly denied having any interest in Windows Phone, and the general feeling is that his clashes with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had begun far earlier, leading most to believe that his departure was a forced, but agreeable one.
Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft makes any sudden changes to its plans for Windows 8, such as re-adding the start button via a service pack.