So much for all that talk about Steven Sinofsky being the next CEO of Microsoft. In a surprise move this evening, Microsoft announced that the Windows president is leaving the company, effective immediately, less than three weeks after the release of Windows 8.

“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years 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.

A 23-year veteran of the company, Sinofsky took over the leadership of Microsoft’s Windows Division after the Windows Vista release and righted the ship with the development of Windows 7, before overseeing the transformation of the flagship operating system for tablets and touch screens with the Windows 8 release.

Sinofsky’s departure comes as Microsoft aims to integrate its consumer products more tightly, with groups including Xbox, Bing and others working more closely with Windows. Sinofsky does well managing products under his purview, but he likes control and is not known for collaborating well across organizational lines.

FOLLOW-UP: Ballmer’s memo on Windows chief’s surprise departure

Here’s the full news release from the company.

Microsoft Announces Leadership Changes to Drive Next Wave of Products

Steven Sinofsky to leave the company; Windows executives Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller take expanded roles.

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 12, 2012 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky will be leaving the company and that Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Tami Reller retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

These changes are effective immediately.

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” Ballmer said. “The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We’ve built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and ‘Halo 4,’ and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.”

“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years 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.

Since 1993, Larson-Green has worked on and led some of the most successful products for Microsoft, including the user experiences for early versions of Internet Explorer, and helped drive the thinking behind the refresh of the user experience for Microsoft Office. For Windows 7 and Windows 8 she was responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases. She has a master’s degree in software engineering from Seattle University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Washington University. In her new role she will be responsible for all future Windows product development in addition to future hardware opportunities.

“Leading Windows engineering is an incredible challenge and opportunity, and as I looked at the technical and business skills required to continue our Windows trajectory — great communication skills, a proven ability to work across product groups, strong design, deep technical expertise, and a history of anticipating and meeting customer needs — it was clear to me that Julie is the best possible person for this job, and I’m excited to have her in this role,” Ballmer said.

Reller joined Windows in 2007 from the Microsoft Dynamics Division where she held a number of leadership positions. She began her career in technology at Great Plains Software in 1984 while still in college, and was the company’s chief financial officer at the time the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Minnesota State University Moorhead and an MBA from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. In her expanded role she will assume the lead in driving business and marketing strategy for Windows devices, including Surface and partner devices, in addition to her current marketing and finance responsibilities.

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  • Guest

    I think I just saw him at the Apple Store buying an iPad. Can you blame him?

    • arcana112

      He needed a real skateboard (although obviously of cheaper quality than Surface).

  • guest

    Wow! Didn’t see that coming.

  • Stephen Medawar

    Obvious follow-up: Does anyone know what he’s going to be doing next?

    • Guest

      I bet he ends up at the Rebel Base on Hoth with the others that Grand Moff Ballmer has driven out (i.e. Amazon).

  • Guest

    And the Saddam Hussein management method continues: because he was being seen as a possible CEO he had to go.

  • Jean-Jacques Dubray

    surface effect? or lack thereof? we don’t hear much about it 3 weeks after the launch.

    • arcana112

      That’s not how big companies work. This was obviously planned for several months now.

  • DaMarico Fowler

    Is Microsoft now doomed?!

  • guest

    Totally shocked. And given how much the stock traded down today and the much higher than average volume, it seems some may have had this news ahead of time.

    • guest

      Possible. But there were some major negative revisions to PC growth forecasts through 2015 during the session. Now calling for no growth and in fact a 10% decline in units over that period.

    • Guest

      Why some? Ballmer has enough shares that he can dump and impact the stock alone.

      ‘Cos he knew he was going to fire Sinofsky today and the market won’t take it well tomorrow when they wake up.

      He’s riding MSFT down and milking it for as much as he can as long as he can.

  • Guest

    Happy trails to Stephen! With Windows 8 successfully delivered, I think the next steps are clear.

  • Azalp Yerbua

    Clearly, Steven Sinofsky was also sleeping with David Petraeus.

  • FremontFella

    The new head of Windows was responsible for the user experience of Internet Explorer?!? God help us all…

    • arcana112

      Way back in 3.0/4.0 days. Like 18 years ago. She was also responsible for Windows 7. No help from god is needed chill out…

      • Guest

        No help from god because there is no god.

        Remember, once you make partner you get to fail upward at Microsoft.

  • Microsoftie

    Sinofsky was bad enough, but promoting Julie Larson-Green shows that Microsoft really does want to kill Windows. Microsoft lucked into the OS monopoly and that helped them luck into the productivity suite monopoly. Now Ballmer seems to be doing everything he can to destroy them.

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