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

Windows is a longtime source of financial fuel for Microsoft’s business, and by extension for the Seattle region’s economy — used by hundreds of millions of people around the world and producing billions in profits every year. But the world is rapidly changing, and Microsoft is radically transforming its flagship product in an effort to keep up in the era of mobile devices and the web.

A Windows 8 start screen.

It’s a huge but necessary gamble for Microsoft, and the person leading the charge is Steven Sinofsky, the Windows president, who unveiled the company’s plans for Windows 8 in September. The role has landed Sinofsky a spot on GeekWire’s list of Newsmakers of the Year for 2011.

“From the chipset to the experience, Windows 8 re-imagines what Windows can be,” said Sinofsky as he introduced the new version at the company’s Build conference in Anaheim.

The new Windows, expected out sometime next year, is Microsoft’s response to Apple’s iPad, using a tile-based Start screen that echoes the visual stylings of Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Xbox 360 interface. But beyond trying to rival the iPad on tablets, Windows 8 is complete overhaul of the desktop computing experience, which makes it even more of a gamble for the company.

In aiming to make the new interface the default on computers, Microsoft is hoping that people around the world will embrace it as a standard on all sorts of devices and screens. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but Sinofsky and his team are the ones trying to make it so.

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing more than 20 Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station. We’ll introduce a new Newsmaker every weekday leading up to the big event.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

Tickets available here for the event.

Thanks to our sponsors Zillow, BingFilter, Facebook and Barokas PR for helping to make this special evening possible.

Contact Rebecca Lovell,, for sponsorship opportunities.

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