Steven Sinofsky and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer celebrate the completion of Windows 7 at a Microsoft event in July 2009. (Microsoft photo).

This was the rap on former Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky following his sudden exit last month: He was unwilling to play along with the rest of the company — making him a poor fit as Microsoft looks to integrate its products more deeply and compete more effectively in the fast-paced world of consumer technology.

And yet, in a internal blog post to the Windows team less than two weeks before resigning, Sinofsky practically gave a dissertation on the subject of cross-company collaboration — outlining best practices and pointing to the newly released Windows 8 as the ultimate example of teamwork among Windows, Xbox, Office, Bing, Microsoft’s internal IT department, customer support … and pretty much every team in between.

“Windows 8 is a remarkable study in being a product of all of Microsoft,” Sinofsky wrote.

So what gives? The internal post, obtained by GeekWire, makes it clear that the circumstances surrounding Sinofsky’s departure were more complex than they initially seemed. Reading between the lines, the post hints at a fundamental clash between Sinofsky and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer over the best way to run the company — a pivotal issue as Microsoft attempts to catch up in tablets and smartphones, and ensure its future among the top tier of tech companies.

Sinofsky’s prickly personality aside, the memo shows that he wasn’t opposed to collaboration. However, he believed it should be done in a purposeful way, as part of a plan, with an understanding of the complex organizational “physics” involved in making large-scale technology products.

And he warned of serious problems if executives became too heavy-handed.

The Windows 8 start screen, showing apps from across the company.

He wrote in the post, “Collaboration is not a management thing. … Everyone has a role in defining whether collaborations happen or not. But history has shown that the most critical part of a collaboration are the individuals doing the work.”

Ballmer, in contrast, is known for his freewheeling and intense management style — willing to dive deep into product features and make key decisions at the executive level about nuances that would otherwise be left to product teams. This is particularly the case when the products, like Windows, are key to Microsoft’s competition vs. the likes of Apple and Google, or critical to Microsoft’s relationships with its industry partners.

Here’s the gist of the physics problem outlined by Sinofsky in his post: Decisions from the top expand exponentially as they ripple down through a large and complex organization and its industry partners. As a result, those decisions need to be grounded in the realities of the people actually doing the work.. They should also stay out of the weeds, remain consistent, and be communicated at the right point in the process … or things can really get screwed up.

Sinofsky wrote, “There’s always a lesson for management in ‘be careful what you ask for’ because if you push hard enough on a collaboration that is up against physics, ultimately one might drive things that don’t work for anyone — schedules will be missed, features will not deliver what is promised. Nothing is worse for a product than an integrated effort that is worse for all involved.”

Under the circumstances, it’s difficult not to read that as a cautionary note to Ballmer, because Microsoft has been there before.

Windows Vista was the infamously late and troubled version of Microsoft Windows that shipped in January 2007. Sinofsky, a former technical assistant to Gates who previously led the Microsoft Office division, was brought over to Windows in the wake of those problems. As Windows president, Sinofsky led the turnaround of Microsoft’s flagship product with Windows 7, and a reinvention of the franchise with Windows 8.

Management gurus have taken note: Some of Sinofsky’s past internal memos to the Windows and Office teams were turned into a book, One Strategy, co-authored and narrated by a Harvard Business School professor.

If Sinofsky is the physics teacher, Ballmer is the football coach. The Microsoft CEO, who comes from the sales and marketing side of the company, often wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s a tireless champion of the company, expressing unrelenting optimism in public.

“We see nothing but a sea of upside!” he told a shareholder who questioned Microsoft’s chances vs. Apple and other rivals in tablets and smartphones. “We appreciate that you’d like us to realize it, and we’re after that with all of our heart.”

In some ways, Ballmer’s hands-on approach represents a return to the days of Bill Gates — except that Ballmer, the business leader, doesn’t have the decades of software development experience that Gates did. Many of the leaders that report to Ballmer also come from the business side of the company. And Microsoft, with more than 90,000 employees, is a much larger and more complex organization than when it was run by Gates.

Inside the company, one of Ballmer’s greatest strengths over the years has been his ability to rally the troops to pursue big goals and fend off competitive threats. He listens closely to the company’s customers and partners, and because of that he serves as an influential channel for feedback to the rest of the company.

Sinofsky introduces Windows 8 in September 2011.

But people who believe in Sinofsky’s approach view Ballmer’s habits as a source of problems when they’re not a methodical part of the process. Entire teams can be sent in completely new directions based on new signals from the CEO that may conflict, unbeknownst to him, with more important goals.

What’s next? There are reports that Microsoft is aiming for more incremental Windows updates, released more regularly, which will sound familiar to Mac users.

In addition, some kind of divisional reorganization appears to be in the works, according to a recent post by Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet — who quoted a separate snippet of the same internal post referenced above, in which Sinofsky asserted that reorgs aren’t the right way to improve collaboration.

He wrote, “Having two groups report together doesn’t address the reasons that led to a challenging collaboration — if groups have different schedules or vectors on principles then make those changes without an org change. If you can’t make those changes without an org change then why will they change if the org changes?”

Despite detractors in some parts of the company, the approach championed by Sinofsky still has plenty of supporters in the Windows division. Julie Larson-Green, who now heads Windows engineering, reporting to Ballmer, is a respected executive and a longtime colleague of Sinofsky.

Still, if there’s a redrawing of the divisional lines in Microsoft’s post-Sinofsky era, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ballmer and other top execs take a more hands-on role in the integration and collaboration between Windows and the rest of Microsoft’s major products and teams.

The big unanswered question is what happens after that.

Follow us on Twitter @GeekWire.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • TechWatcher

    Sinofsky’s departure was the direct result of a gambit. He had to take the chance to unseat Ballmer before the numbers started coming in on Windows8 and Surface. If he waited, he would have nothing to stand on. The promise of the future is always better than the reality of a declining product or a late product. Sinofsky was also an architect of his own demise. Microsoft had the Tablet PC and handwriting recognition and touch scenarios working with Vista and Windows7. But Office never supported the Tablet capability and Sinofsky was head of Office before shifting to Windows. Technical advances in batteries, chip capability and solid state memory were not sufficiently exploited by Microsoft. Nor did Microsoft have the courage to do hardware–which is Ballmer’s fault, not Sinofsky’s.

  • Jean-Jacques Dubray

    It’s an illusion to think that you can change the culture or the structure of an organization to instill more collaboration. Cooperation (which I prefer to collaboration) and Motivation can come much more directly if you change the way people communicate and create insight into what needs to be done.

    Changing Culture (or Structure) yield often unpredictable results, with a large time constant. The probability to reach desired outcomes is much higher when you focus on communication and insight.

    More thoughts on this here:

    • Anonymous Coward

      :-D In engineering speak: specify protocol, not implementation.

  • ByeByeSoul

    Thanks Todd,

    Overall a thoughtful and well thought out piece.

    I do though think that you didn’t connect this as part of a broader trend. Specifically, that more respected and respectable technical leaders don’t stay while the more business focused leaders are staying.

    Put another way, there’s a Ballmer camp (with Ballmer and Kevin Turner as the main examples) and a Gates camp (with Sinofsky, Ray Ozzie, Bach and Allard at the main examples). Granted that Gates came before Ballmer and is the chairman: but the fact remains that since Gates left no one cut of his cloth has survived let alone thrived.

    In that vein, I disagree with your statement “one of Ballmer’s greatest strengths over the years has been his ability to really the troops to pursue big goals and fend off competitive threats.”. Some of that meddling that Sinofsky is outlining as being harmful is harmful because it’s coming from non-technical people like Ballmer. All that “rallying” does is drive the technically clueful nuts (and out) and gives the technically clueless (who are “rallied”) firedrills that muck things up and end up on their annual reviews.

    In other words, there is a fight for the soul of Microsoft, yes. But it’s been going on since Gates left. And it’s whether smart technology people are going to run the company or the GE and Wal-Mart types are going to. And the GE/Wal-Mart type have been winning for a while and that’s why the company is drifting towards irrelevance because those folks are technically clueless.

    If you need proof of that last, look at Ballmer talking about the iPod, the iPhone, the
    iPad, or Chrome (especially in the video with Ray Ozzie who did get Chrome).
    In a way the soul has been seeping out of the company since 2002 or so. We’re just seeing the last bits of it evaporate.

    • ByeByeVision

      You’re right on the money ByeByeSoul. The wrong man lost the battle. Ballmer’s blustery beatings over the product teams heads can be seen either as rallying or railing. Microsoft needs a visionary leader, not a cheerleader. Sinofsky could have lead MS into the future, Ballmer will (continue to) drive it into corporate insignificance.

      • WindowsExpert

        Mr. Sinofsky seemed very stubborn and combative. He did not seem like a friendly person. Contrast his personality with Scott Guthrie – open, warm, thoughtful, patient. I think Balmer made the right call with this one. Windows 8 on a desktop is stunningly confusing, I think they really screwed up the UI for business people on a desktop. Windows 8 = Vista, and I won’t be surprised when businesses decide to wait for Windows 9.

        • mahadragon

          All business leaders are stubborn and combative (read: jerks). You think Steve Ballmer is a nice man? You think Bill Gates is a nice man? You don’t get to be a billionaire by being a nice guy. Yes, in public, they say the right things and are diplomatic, but you miss quarterly earnings and I guarantee you, Mr Ballmer will tear you a new ***hole.

  • Cameron

    There is a typo in paragraph 17.

    • Todd Bishop

      Thanks – got it.

  • Roy Leban

    I used to say that BillG would make some comment in a BIll Review like “have you considered making it purple?” and word would come down that “Bill said it had to be purple” and the whole organization would pivot to make everything purple. The same thing happened to a lesser extent with Steve and Steven, even if they didn’t think it did. Culture like that is hard to change, especially at a company the size of Microsoft, and memos and reorgs alone don’t do it.

    • Steven Sinofsky

      That’s always going to be a challenge for any manager, not just executives. One way I’ve found to help avoid that problem is to make sure the culture knows meetings are not to decide things but to communicate what has been decided. In our book mentioned in the article we talk about this quite a bit and there were a lot more blog posts internally on the specific topic of meetings and purpose. I think most senior folks recognize the challenge you describe–folks might be surprised how often we feel we have to unwind a question turned request. A tool to help in this regard is for the “owner” or “leader” of the meeting to send out the notes for the meeting, rather than the attendees, so that there aren’t any ambiguities like you describe. It is something I tried to do personally for a long time.

      • Roy Leban

        Agree that this can be a challenge for every manager. It’s just harder for executives and it’s harder at bigger companies. BillG’s iconic status at Microsoft made it almost impossible for him. I used to tell people to be ready for the “purple” questions (which are frequently execs just wanting to make sure that all avenues have been explored), so that edicts didn’t happen by happenstance.

        One thing I like to say is that (most of the time) the manager’s job isn’t to make decisions, it’s to decide who’s the best person to make each decision. Of course, at a startup, this is very easy to accomplish.

      • Grab

        Accounts from people in many non-Windows Microsoft groups say that Windows devs were not allowed to speak to them on your orders. How does that reconcile with promoting a cross-company culture? If those accounts are incorrect, then given how pervasive they are and how harmful they are to collaboration, what did you do to dispel them?

  • The Shambolic Skeptic

    It is humerus that the company that is renowned for internal warfare that the most successful executive in a decade gets shot just after his biggest contribution.

    Gates is simply daft keeping Ballmer in charge. I guess he can’t see anyone else filling his shoes.

  • guest

    Both execs are (or were) very hands on, and both are controversial.

    Re: Steveb, the marketing and sales engineering that he pushed in the 00’s did a lot to keep MS stock up after it shipped products that would have killed other companies. But the culture is a bad combination of crazy and corrosive, especially on the business side, and that has a lot to do with decisions he’s made.

    They’re riding a wave of new, younger hires after the layoffs, and while things may be OK in the short term, over the next two years I’d bet they regress to the mean and it looks like 2005 all over again, especially now that Steven is out.

  • AlexKper

    Mr. Sinofsky misrepresents himself pretty clearly as a great and wise cross-division collaborator. The reality is he practiced ruthless, slash and burn, take-no-prisoners internal warfare. And he won most of the time because others were less cynical, busy trying to compete, to innovate (not something he really had to do as head of Office during that period). Look at the trail of talent and successful execs that were pushed out at his bidding or because of his maneuvers. Look at the number of projects that were obstructed or killed, simply so he could build his empire. Microsoft could’ve been a force with Tablets early on if not, in part, for Sinofky’s total non-cooperation as head of Office. Windows8 was a mystery to nearly all of us until the cement was nearly dry – too late to do any real collaboration. It’s obvious that Sinofsky’s memo came out after the fact, in part to counter real internal criticism and the disastrous results were becoming apparent. I’m not surprised in the least bit that Win8 is what it is – having maneuvered himself into that position and eliminated all “competition”, Sinofsky finally had to put up or shut up.

    Honestly, did you bother to interview any Microsoft execs outside of his fiefdom before writing this?

    • Reedley Smith

      Sinofsky had a lot of power as head of the Windows team, but he didn’t have the power to go his own way if that was in conflict with Steve Ballmer’s direction as CEO.

      Especially (in this case) when the board, headed by the ‘insiderest’ of inside directors, Bill Gates, would give Ballmer whatever backing he needed to keep a tight rein on his entire team, as he finally did by cutting Sinofsky loose after he shipped Windows 8.

      If Ballmer wanted cooperation from Sinofky, he would’ve gotten it. Since you claim that Sinofsky did not cooperate with others, that meant that Ballmer didn’t care if he did or didn’t.

      • mahadragon

        I think cooperation was only part of the equation. Sinofsky wasn’t new to the company and they have been working together for over a decade. I think Win8 sales numbers were very disappointing to Ballmer and I think that was definitely a big blow for Sinofsky. It always comes down to the bottom line: Production. Sinofsky didn’t produce.

    • half full or half empty?

      “The reality is he practiced ruthless, slash and burn, take-no-prisoners internal warfare.”

      I worked for a team that was acquired and killed by Sinofsky. We were told what a great opportunity it was to integrate what we were doing into office. The next week we were told that everything we were doing was being canceled and we’d all be reassigned to a new project. Hard to say if these were the right decisions but definitely the wrong way to communicate them and lots of people left.

      What Microsoft needs to do is free its engineers to innovate and build great products. Neither Ballmer’s approach (blind cheerleading) or Sinofsky’s (ruthless vision) works. Too bad they couldn’t work it out because half of Ballmer plus half of Sinofsky would crush.

  • ToBobTim

    Corporate America really makes me ill!

    • matt66210

      What a dumb comment. Corporate America is just people – I know the people making dumb billion-dollar decisions at Microsoft. But it’s better than the dumb people in government. If you don’t like a company, you go to its competitor, but to ditch a government takes a revolution.
      Do us a favor. Don’t vote again until you can think.

  • Jamie

    Correction: Sinofsky never ‘ran the Office division’. He reported to Jeff Raikes, then Stephen Elop. He led engineering efforts but never owned the P&L or Marketing like he did with Windows as “President”

  • danonym

    Just as I was starting to get annoyed with yet another regurgitation of MSFTs official message that Sinofsky “was unwilling to play along with the rest of the company”, you continue to provide real insight into what likely led to his demise. Well written article, Todd. Unfortunately, this is also very disturbing news relating to Microsoft’s future. Once again a salesman wins against the geek in political infight. When will executive boards learn that tech companies need technical people at the helm in order to thrive? Anyone remember John Sculley at Apple? Maybe Sinofsky should take a lesson from what Steve Jobs did after he got ousted.

    • mahadragon

      Ballmer is not a salesman. He’s a businessman. There’s a big difference there. Ballmer is interested in numbers, he’s interested in the bottom line: production. I also think he’s smart enough to understand, that MSFT needs to grow the business in different directions so they don’t have to rely on Windows and Office so much for their business. Oh, Steve Jobs wasn’t a technical person, he was a marketing guy who loved tech gadgets. Steve Jobs was not a computer engineer but a college dropout.

  • AnonymuosCoward

    Sinofsky ruined Windows as I knew it and Windows as I liked it. Neither Windows 7 is as good as Windows XP and Windows 8 is just the beginning of the end as Microsoft sinks against Apple and Google. Sinofsky and his team are anti-backward compatibility and Microsoft’s foundation is built on the notion of backward compatible product design. Without it, they will not succeed. Sinofsky was hardly a visionary, more like Hitler dictating his own visionless goal.

    • Kristaps Berzinch

      Windows 8 (but not Windows RT) is backwards-compatible with Win32 apps.

      • AnonymuosCoward

        Backward compatibility doesn’t mean just being able to run apps. It extends to operating system features as well. What’s the use of me being able to run an app from the 90s if Windows 7’s and Vista’s best features were crippled in the new shitty OS?

  • Andrey Gerasimenko

    It is still a mystery for me. Yes, Microsoft had to reinvent Windows and declare the future of computing before Android gets multitasking that must solve its UI sluggishness problem and before Ubuntu releases an OS for everything capable to run Android apps. Both events would allow any brave entrepreneur to eliminate Windows – a system that locks files, degrades with time, and claims to be a server without the ability to do fork and send signals to threads, – in no time.

    Why the “future of computing” is on top of COM and not vice versa? Why all decisions were taken based on the current capabilities of the tablet hardware (thus, either yearly upgrades run smoothly or Windows 8 tablets are DOA)? Why the limited capabilities of COM were stripped down to even more limited capabilities of Java Script?

    Finally: the “future of computing” cannot do anything as complex as a Notepad and apps that do a pathetic attempt to be an alarm clock tend to hang the Start Screen.

    How come? I guess it is necessary to consider more parties, like the .NET/VS clan. My wild guess:

    Balmer orchestrated the Windows vs. DevTools conflict, forced wrong decisions on Windows 8, and fired Sinofsky before the Windows 8 success was numbered and Sinofsky started pointing fingers and calling names.

    Pro: the way we, the people of beta testers, released Windows 7. Contra: any ideas?

  • John

    I have reached a point which I never thought I would reach, my primary desktop OS is not WIndows, it is Mac OS X. I have an Android Tablet, and an Android phone. I still run Windows on a VM on my Mac. Microsoft’s Server OS’ are still top rate, as are their SQL server products, the Microsoft Office line, and their IDE’s (basically all of the things that appeal to companies) but in regards to consumers they have lost relevance, which is a problem as they seem to have abandoned the enterprise, and are focusing on consumers. In other words, they are abandoning a willing customer base and focusing on one they have already lost. I think Sinofsky would have reversed that trend, and he is gone.

    • mahadragon

      MSFT is doing what they have done since day 1: copy Apple. Apple comes out with the Mac, MSFT counters with Windows 3, then XP. Apple comes out with an mp3 player, MSFT counters with Zune. Apple opens their own line of retail stores, MSFT follows with their retail stores which look eerily similar. Apple comes out with iPhone, MSFT counters with Windows Phone. Apples comes out with the App Store, MSFT counters with their app store. Apple comes out with iPad, MSFT counters with Surface. And it goes on…and on… and on…MSFT isn’t abandoning anyone. It just so happened their software ran well with enterprise because it was very technical. They’ve always looked to Apple for their inspiration because they have no ideas of their own. You never see Apple copying MSFT, it’s always the other way around.

      • guest

        Your knowledge of industry history is embarrassingly inaccurate.

  • Daniel_Automitive

    I have been in the business 25 years – and one thing I have noticed; Techies create innovative companies and Suits kill them. The only variable is how long it takes.

    Microsoft is on it’s way out – the last project I worked on, a 100+ team, about 50% of machines used by the team were Macs and the back end was MS free (MongoDB). That would not have happened a few years ago.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Shareholders and suites never learn. All the big tech companies (Sun, MS, Apple, Google, SGI, you name it) were originally founded by engineers/tech guys. As soon as those left (or were thrown out – see Jobs’ history at Apple) the companies started going down.

    MS is too big a company to fail fast – this being IMO a bad thing, because it will be hard to notice when MS starts to fail, and too late/too difficult/too costly to reverse the trend once it happens.

    Obviously Sinofsky is right and Ballmer is wrong – obviously at least for an engineer. All systems are governed by the same essential cybernetic laws – a human body, a society, a company or the earth’s ecosystem. Sinofsky is aware of the disturbing forces which appear when you introduce external constraints/influences in such systems, Ballmer isn’t. That’s why Ballmer is more likely to create chaos, or at least an unstable system, where Sinfosky would have created steady innovation through organized collaboration. Of course, we won’t see the chaos from outside, or at least not very clear, but at some point it will unavoidably seep into MS’s products – unless they kick Ballmer’s butt really soon, and return the company’s management to tech guys – after all, that’s what Gates was too.

    • mahadragon

      Steve Jobs was hardly a tech guy. He knew very little about computers. I think maybe you should have done a little research on Apple, Steve Jobs has a book out that will explain it all to you. Woz was the technical guru in the beginning, Steve Jobs was the marketing wiz that brought people together and drove profits and sales. Jobs was always a fan of technology but he wasn’t a computer engineer.

  • TD

    Based on the headline they are fighting over something that does not exist.

  • jalapi

    Microsoft sucks, buy an Apple and you will never look back… :)

  • daraho

    It is somewhat sad and not a little creepy that these old men now seem to want to present themselves as Steve Jobs clones launching an Apple product (because our PR guru told us to try to appeal to a younger audience by wearing clothes we dont look or feel comfortable in) when we all know they are Microsoft drones launching some already obsolete tat whose only appeal is that lately it resembles something Apple might have considered producing. Microsoft needs to develop its own style and image (like IBM did wth Thinkpad or Apple with Mac) and to do this they need to have a consistent vision of what a Microsoft product looks and feels like otherwise the entire company will end up appearing as tired, unreliable, and worn out as its leadership. Perhaps a complete rebrand and consistent inhouse design philosophy with an emphasis on truly high qualty, cutting edge products, that are secure and reliable might help. The slate was a good start but the OS appearance lets it down.

    • mahadragon

      Nope, MS needs to go back to what worked in the past: shamelessly copy Apple. They’ve done it with Windows 3 and XP, copying the UI on the Mac. They already tried to do it with their retail stores, their app store, the Zune, Windows Phone, and the Surface. The difference is, Google is the one who shamelessly copied Apple and they are reaping the benefits. They need to make Surface look and feel exactly like the iPad. They need Windows Phone to look and feel just like the iPhone. Then MS will have a winner on their hands. They’ve already copied Apple with their retail stores, they’ve already copied the way they present new product offerings. They just need to copy the rest verbatim because they don’t have any ideas of their own that people are interested in buying.

  • BlueCollarCritic

    BEFORE : “Unwilling to play along with the rest of the company” ~ [Steve Ballmer] Microsoft

    AFTER: Internal company blog memo from Sinofsky shows that he was for cross-company collaboration.

    SUMMARY: Once again we find out that what was initial sold as news turns out to be BS. Is anyone surprised by this? Is anyone shocked that Microsoft would exaggerate the reason for why a top level employee was leaving the company especially when its right after a key new product launch in which the employee was the lead?

    Far too often the initial news we get be it on technology, Health, world affairs or [especially] politics is at best an exaggeration of the truth and more often than not a border line lie. When I read this news on Sinofsky I knew something as up because the technology news outlets were trying way too hard to convince the readership that Sinofsky’s exodus was his own fault and that Microsoft was not only blameless but in some ways was the victim of a control freak like non-team player. Now that enough time has passed and more about the truth of the matter is able to get out (that often happens with time) we find out that not only was Sinofsky not the semi-villain that MS management tried to paint him as but he was also the kind of person that MS should not have let go.

    This has pride, ego and arrogance written all over it and I’ll leave it to you to figure out whose ego I’m talking about and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Sinofsky. Best wishes to Sinofsky, its Microsoft’s loss, let’s just hope the Ball stops with Sinofsky so that no other valuable employees are pushed out because of someone’s ego.

    • mahadragon

      Ego may have been partly to blame, but I find it very hard to believe Ballmer is so jaded he would listen to his ego rather than common sense, to fire one of the company’s top leaders. A more plausible explanation: Windows 8 sales haven’t been very good. Preliminary numbers show Win8 sales lukewarm at best. That’s not what MSFT needs at this juncture because their mobile efforts have been dismal at best (not to mention they are hemorrhaging their bottom line). I’m not privy to internal talk, maybe Mr Sinofsky can chime in and answer this question. But it looks to me like MSFT may have to make a change in their philosophy, because the “Windows Phone on a desktop” is apparently pissing a lot of people off. I don’t know who decided putting a phone OS on the desktop was a great idea, but just looking at the surface (no pun intended), it looks like it was Sinofsky’s idea.

  • guest

    The record shows that Sinofsky has been correct with much greater frequency than Ballmer. It also shows that when Sinofsky ran an org, any org, he ran it. He didn’t outsource it to others as Ballmer has consistently. Whether he and his vision would have succeeded in fixing MS’s numerous competitive problems in unclear. But we’ve had thirteen years to see that Ballmer can’t. Ballmer has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of technical depth to spot trends and accurately gauge competitive threats. That has made him overly dependent on the advice of others, who in too many cases have fallen short (and he picked many of them). He’s also seemingly incapable of thinking up and executing a strategy that has any subtlety or misdirection at all. On a Sun Tzu scale of 1-10 he’s a minus 5. That has made it trivially easy for Apple, Google and others to anticipate MS’s next move and either thwart it or otherwise take advantage.

    Getting rid of Sinofsky was probably a bad move but it’s done. Mundie moving on is potentially good. Now get rid of Ballmer and MS might actually have a future.

Job Listings on GeekWork