The shakeups keep coming in the world of tech. Two weeks ago Apple booted out Scott Forstall, who oversaw development of the iOS operating system. And now Microsoft is losing its top development boss – Steven Sinofsky, who ran Windows 8 and was perhaps the most powerful person in the company after CEO Steve Ballmer.

Whether SInofsky jumped or was pushed is not clear. Microsoft says the departure was a mutual decision. 

President Of Windows

Sinofsky’s title had been President of Windows and Windows Live. He will be replaced by Julie Larson-Green, a veteran Microsoft executive who most recently has been overseeing user interface design. That’s been a big project at Microsoft which is trying to unify all of its products and platforms – Windows, Windows Phone and even the Xbox — with a tile-based interface that used to be known as Metro.

Sinofsky, meanwhile, is known to be an abrasive, polarizing figure with an outsized ego – much like Forstall, who was so obnoxious that some people quit Apple rather than work with him, while others, including two top executives, refused to sit in meetings with him unless CEO Tim Cook was present.

I heard earlier this year that Sinofsky and Ballmer had been butting heads. Sinofsky became a hero inside Microsoft for driving development of Windows 7, which rescued Microsoft from the mess that was Windows Vista. Word is he had become so powerful inside the company that supposedly he had stopped listening to Ballmer, and simply did whatever he wanted to do.

Sinofsky’s departure comes just two weeks after Microsoft introduced its long-awaited Windows 8 operating system and its Surface tablet, both of which have been receiving tepid reviews.

Job Done, Job Gone?

My guess, looking in from the outside, is that Ballmer decided to get rid of Sinofsky a while ago, and told him to finish up WIndows 8 and then get out.

Microsoft is a leaky enough place that we’ll probably get the true story, or perhaps several versions of it, in the not-too-distant future.

For now we must make do with a press release from Microsoft in which Ballmer says the goal of the shakeup is to make sure that Microsoft can “continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycle for our offerings.”

Apple said similar things when it booted Forstall, talking about the need to have better collaboration across teams. The implication was that the much-loathed Forstall was an impediment to collaboration. 

The same may be true of Sinofsky, who nonetheless bowed out gracefully with a quote about the “blessings I have received” at Microsoft. “I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company,” Sinofsky said in the press release.

“Humble” is not a word one often heard in the same breath as “Sinofsky.” But it may be he is feeling that way right now.

Image courtesy of Microsoft.