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Microsoft Windows head Sinofsky abruptly leaves company

The Microsoft executive who headed the Windows and Windows Live operations, has abruptly left the company, Microsoft announced late Monday.

Steven Sinofsky’s departure comes just weeks after the Redmond, Wash., software company launched Windows 8, which represented a major overhaul of its ubiquitous computer operating system.

The company did not say why Sinofsky is leaving.

“He is the person who really got Windows back on track after the disasterous Windows Vista launch back in 2007,” analyst Todd Bishop said. “He essentially remade Windows with Windows 8 and the release of the Microsoft Surface.”

In a statement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer expressed gratitude for Sinofsky’s contribution to the company. He indicated the need for the company to further integrate its array of offerings, which in addition to Windows includes services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox and a new tablet computer, as it begins what he called “a new era at Microsoft.”

Ballmer said “it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings.”

The launch of Windows 8 last month heralded the biggest change to the industry’s dominant operating system in at least 17 years. It attempts to bridge the gap between personal computers and fast-growing tablets with its touch-enabled interface.

Sinofsky joined Microsoft as a software design engineer in 1989. Before heading the Windows division, his work included overseeing the development of Microsoft Office products.

“So you look at what he has done at the company the past five years and it’s really remarkable,” Bishop said.

Sinofsky, who left the company Monday, had been widely rumored to be a candidate to eventually replace Ballmer as CEO. But Bishop says that was unlikely given his reputation as someone who didn’t collaborate well across divisions within the company.

“He’s sort of a control freak in some ways, and that makes it hard as Microsoft tries to incorporate more and more products and make them work well with Windows at the center. And so that sort of lack of ability to collaborate across groups is certainly one of the things that made it tough for Sinofsky to find a continued role at Microsoft,” Bishop said.

Company veteran Julie Larson-Green has been promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering, Microsoft said. Tami Reller will take over responsibility for the Windows business while retaining her posts as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer.

Larson-Green has been with Microsoft since 1993. She was responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases for Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft said.

In her new role, she will be responsible for all future Windows product development in addition to future hardware projects.

The Associated Press and KIRO Radio’s Val Stouffer contributed to this report

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