Microsoft Management Shake-up: Windows Chief Defenestrated

By | Nov 15, 2012

Dust was still settling from a top-level shake-up at Apple when Microsoft was also hit by a management shake-up. Out the window goes Steven Sinofsky, head of Redmond's Windows operations. The parallel to Apple, where the iOS chief Scott Forstall fell from grace, is striking.

For the IT community at midsize firms, the relevance of the Microsoft management change, like the one at Apple, goes beyond one company's C-suite turmoil. The mobile-technology market is starting to mature, and vendors are repositioning themselves. But for IT, the future of Windows is of particular significance. It is a huge presence in the enterprise world, and Windows mobility has offered continuity in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era.

Out the Windows

The announced departure of Sinofsky came weeks after the launch of Windows 8. And as Galen Gruman reports at InfoWorld, it has re-ignited debate about the recent and future direction of Windows.

Some observers credit Sinofsky with revitalizing Windows after the Vista debacle. Others say that he left too many Windows 7 legacy features in Windows 8--while still others criticize Windows 8 as too much of a departure. And as Jay Greene notes at CNET, some observers criticized Sinofsky as unable to work well with other executives in integrating Microsoft products.

His place in charge of Windows will be taken by Julie Larson-Green, who previously was in charge of the touch-centric Metro user interface (UI). This move suggests that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer favors a continued move away from Windows past--and, perhaps, toward a more consumer-centric Windows future.

Is Windows Broken?

The Microsoft management shake-up comes at a critical time for Windows 8. Newly released, it is seeking traction in a marketplace where mobility has become central, and where Apple and Android are dominant. In short, Microsoft and Windows have their work cut out for them.

And IT professionals at midsize firms have a large stake in the outcome. Windows has been a central part of the IT picture at most midsize firms for many years. IT managers may not always love it, but they are familiar with it.

The Metro UI, however, challenges this familiarity. If individual employees and IT at-large must relearn basic skills in order to deal with Metro, it might actually be easier to shift over to, say, Google Apps. And these are likely to end up with full Android support.

Potential turmoil within major mobile operating-system vendors is not something the IT community at midsize firms wants to deal with. But IT may not have any choice.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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