The man tipped to lead Microsoft's fight back against Apple and Google has left the company in mysterious circumstances a fortnight after unveiling one of its most important products in years.
Steven Sinofsky, who joined the company in 1989, stepped down from his role as head of Windows yesterday amid reports of friction between him and other executives at the group.
The timing of his departure took analysts by surprise given the recent launch of Windows 8, which is seen as pivotal for a company that is struggling to keep up with its rivals.
Sinofsky had been viewed by some as a likely successor to Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, when he eventually stands down. In an email to staff, Ballmer, who is under pressure to reverse Microsoft’s fortunes, said simply: “Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company.”
In a later press release, he added: “To continue [Windows’] 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.”