Well, that came as a surprise. Not so much the fact that Steven Sinofsky unceremoniously leaves the company where he was considered crown prince – he had made plenty of enemies with his personality and leadership style, and Microsoft sources claim that his divisive attitude was indeed the sole reason for his leaving.
But one has to wonder why Sinofsky left so shortly after the launch of Windows 8 and Surface RT, even before next year’s launch of Surface Pro. His new products are still rather immature, and it’s far too soon to properly assess the success (or failure) of his thorough redesign of Windows. I should think the various pre-release gaffes and the negative early reactions encouraged his departure, both on the part of enemies who could use them as ammunition, as Tim Anderson conjectures, and on the part of Sinofsky himself who would rather not stick around until he had to take the blame and resign in disgrace.
For now, the new technical head of Windows Division is Julie Larson-Green, a Microsoft veteran who had been working on user interfaces for a broad range of products. Let’s hope she will listen to customers for a change, and fix the ugly Metro/desktop UI mash-ups in Windows 8 and Surface RT which were the focal points of criticism in both products.