Windows chief leaves Microsoft

US software giant Microsoft has announced the immediate departure of Steven Sinofsky, head of its flagship Windows and Windows Live operations. The move came just a few weeks after the launch of the company’s next generation software platform, Windows 8, which spans both desktop and mobile devices.

Microsoft did not give any reason for Sinofsky’s departure but it raises questions over the future direction of its platform strategy. Windows 8 was billed as more than a simple product upgrade when it was launched, with Microsoft  positioning it as a multi-device strategy that would embrace modern diversity in devices used to access services and content.

With Sinosfky gone, Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering while Tami Reller, who retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer, will also assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Since 1993, Larson-Green has worked on and led some of the most well known products for Microsoft, including the user experiences for early versions of Internet Explorer, and helped drive the thinking behind the latest 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.

Reller began her career in technology at Great Plains Software in 1984 and was the company’s chief financial officer at the time it was acquired by Microsoft in 2001.

Microsoft is not the only major player to rewrite its team sheet. Apple recently announced an executive reshuffle, which will see the departure of Scott Forstall, one of the original architects of the Mac OS X operating system and head of the team responsible for the software platform at the heart of the iconic iPhone device.

Apple announced that Forstall will be leaving next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim. The company did not expand on his reasons for leaving, but rumours suggest he was given the push in the wake of the Maps debacle and issues with Siri.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving after only five months as head of Retail. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the retail team will report directly to Cook.

In other movements, famed designer, Jony Ive, who was responsible for everything from the iMac to the iPhone and iPad design is now going “to provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design.”

Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, will take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps, placing all online services in one group along with iTunes, the App Store, the iBookstore and iCloud.

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering, will lead both iOS and OS X development. While Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Technologies, will lead a new group, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organisation and will also include the semiconductor team.

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