Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky unveils Windows 8 in Anaheim in September. (Microsoft photo)

Leading up to the debut of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview tomorrow, Reuters is out with an extensive story about Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, examining his management style and temperament and asking the question of whether he could ultimately succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO.

One catch: It’s not clear if Sinofsky would be the right fit, or if he would want the job if offered. I broached the topic with him once during an interview about his “One Strategy” management book but didn’t get anywhere with the line of questioning.

More than anything, the speculation underscores the fact that Microsoft hasn’t been public about its succession planning.

On that topic, Reuters quotes an anonymous “large institutional investor” saying, “Sinofsky is an executor, he can deliver …  They (Microsoft) should be able to provide more transparency to the depth of bench – to demystify the inner circle of management. In the absence of providing that, you get non-productive chatter. It would serve them well to nip that in the bud.”

Absent a shareholder revolt, there’s plenty of time for speculation. Ballmer has said he’s planning to stick around until 2017 or 2018, when his last kid goes to college.

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  • Kevin Morrill

    I think the landscape will likely look different in 2017 when/if he retires.  Years ago, Eric Rudder used to be the odds on successor.  It’s hard to think of any recent blockbusters with Rudder’s name attached, and now he’s a distant memory.

  • Nick Knight

    MS needs to find someone ASAP. The need someone who can balance where they are and where they need to be. Ballmer is stuck in the 90s and needs to turn the ship over to someone who can realistically evaluate technologies and trends.

  • Gmcascade

    Microsoft has almost allowed itself to become merely an adjunt to the technology industry (see: Big Four–Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google….. none of whom is based in Redmond!)  New leadership–AND, perhaps equally as important–a new BOD, are the only thing that can change the incredible “stasis” that now IS this company.  By definition, new leadership should come from outside.

  • MicrosoftStockHolder

    Isn’t DelBene, the Office chief, the obvious choice?  Seems like the division that continues to outperform, time after time.

  • MHazell

    I know this might sound stupid, but Gates should do it again. Microsoft was ok when he was in charge.

  • Saderoche

    “Microsoft’s next CEO: If not Steven Sinofsky, then who?”Probably John Thompson who just joined the Microsoft Board of Directors.—————————————-Steve Stites

  • Guest

    The large investor is correct. Every CEO or even senior executive has a responsibility to identify and groom a successor. It’s just another area where Steve’s performance is deficient and where the board, who should be all over this particularly given the concerns about that performance, aren’t doing their job of oversight.

    As far as Sinofsky goes, he’s done some great things (fix Vista with W7) and some really stupid ones (push for Windows on tablets with the resulting three year delay in responding to iPad). I’m not at all convinced he’s got the right combination of skills for what MS needs. But he’d probably be better than Ballmer. Then again, so would a chimpanzee.

  • Guest

    Paul Maritz.

  • Danbloom

     from the reuters article —  ”Despite his powerful position, Windows colleagues say Sinofsky — known by his internal e-mail handle as “SteveSi” []” — still takes the time to reply to e-mails personally and is usually chatty in the hallways, though he may not always be the figure that people want to see coming the other way.”Should Bill Rigby of Reuters have printed the private email of Mr Sinosky? yes no? What was HE thinking? Bill i mean?

    • Guest

      Stevesi, steveb, and other senior execs routinely give out their email id publicly.

  • Ad.P.

    “Ballmer has said he’s planning to stick around until 2017 or 2018, when his last kid goes to college.”

    That’s seems like sort of a douchebag move. “Hey kids, while you’re living at home I’m going to be working long and hard as the CEO of a super-major-corporation. But once you’re out of the house, I’m going to take some time to myself.” 

    • Guest

      Yeah, how selfish of him /s

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