Explaining Steven Sinofsky's resignation from Microsoft
Steven Sinofsky has left Microsoft. If you find yourself saying “Why” or, more importantly, “Wait - who?” then read on as we explain it so even your mom can understand
Thanksgiving is just one week away and that can only mean one thing: awkward and sometimes unpleasant conversations with family members (but, hey, over turkey and pie, at least!). This year, consider avoiding such hot-button topics as politics, sports and reasons why you never visit mom and stick to something more neutral - like this week’s departure of Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft.
Worried that mom (or grandma or Uncle Charlie) won’t have a clue what or whom you’re talking about? Well, here’s a quick Q&A to break it all down into simple terms for the older crowd.
Hopefully this will make the conversation around the turkey less stressful. Unfortunately, it won’t do anything for mom’s lumpy gravy.
Who is Steven Sinofsky and why should I care about him?
He was a longtime Microsoft employee who spent the past three years as the president of the Windows Division.
So he’s a window maker?
Not those kind of windows. Windows software, the operating system that’s still used on the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers around the world.
Was he any good at his job?
Well, he took over Windows after the disaster that was Windows Vista and oversaw the development of the last few major releases of Windows, Windows 7 and Windows 8. The former was a hit, and the latter is getting OK-to-good reviews.
He’s not the guy who came up with Clippy, was he?
No, Clippy was designed by a fellow named Kevan Atteberry.
Well, if he wasn’t responsible for Clippy, and Windows was doing well under him, why did he leave the company? Was it because he was having an extramarital affair?
No, you’re thinking for former CIA-head David Petraeus.
Oh. Did Sinofsky's departure have anything to do with a sex scandal, at least?
Sorry to disappoint you, but no.
Dang. Then why did he leave? Was he fired or did he resign?
Hard to say for sure. The official word is it was a mutual decision. You can try and judge for yourself by reading his resignation letter, and the response from his boss, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, neither of which sheds much light on what happened.
That’s the official word, but what’s the real story?
When does he officially leave Microsoft?
His resignation was effective immediately, so he’s already gone.
Wow. Did he get escorted out of the building? Did he even have a chance to steal any office supplies on the way out?
Who’s taking over for him?
Two internal people are being promoted to handle his duties: Julie Larson-Green, who was a lead engineer on Windows 7, will take over the engineering of Windows, while CFO Tami Reller will now handle the business side.
Is it true their first choice was Phil Jackson?
No, mom, you’re thinking of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Does his departure hurt Microsoft?
In the short run, yes. Microsoft stock took a big hit in the wake of this news, dropping 4% the next day, which translated to losing $10 billion from its market capitalization.
What does Bill Gates think of all this?
Can Bill Gates fix my toilet that won’t stop running?
No. He’s not involved at that level.
What does Sinofsky do next?
Who knows? Maybe he’ll move to Apple, since two of their executives recently left.
Wait - what’s that all about?
That’s a complicated story for another day.
Makes sense? Now, please pass the lumpy - er, I mean delightful! - gravy.