Steven Sinofsky steps down as Windows chief

Windows is under new management.

In a surprise executive shakeup earlier today, Microsoft announced that Steven Sinofsky has stepped down from his post as Windows and Windows Live President, "effective immediately."

Two executives have taken over Sinofsky's former duties: Julie Larson-Green, who is now in charge of "all Windows software and hardware engineering," and Tami Reller, who is leading the "business and marketing strategy for Windows devices, including Surface and partner devices." As before, Reller will also continue to fill in as Microsoft's Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer.

I haven't heard much about Larson-Green before, but Microsoft says she's been an employee since 1993. The company credits her for the UI design of early Internet Explorer releases as well as helping to "drive the thinking behind" the Office UI refresh. (Presumably, that means she was involved with creating the infamous ribbon interface, which spread to the File Explorer in Windows 8.) More recently, Microsoft says Larson-Green was "responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases" for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

According to the folks over at CNet News, Microsoft's official stance on Sinofsky's departure is that it was a "mutual" decision. The site says some considered Sinofsky to be potential CEO material, but the executive was known for being "divisive" and "not working well with executives in other divisions." That has led to speculation that perhaps the shakeup wasn't so mutual, after all.

This all sounds eerily similar to the recent departure of iOS chief Scott Forstall, whom sources say had a tense relationship with other executives. Apple didn't get into details about exactly why Forstall stepped down last month, but word is that he was let go after refusing to apologize for the Apple Maps fiasco.

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