Former Windows boss Sinofsky happy with Windows 8 sales

At the D11 conference, Steven Sinofsky said it's too early to pick winners and losers as the PC industry evolves with new form factors.

Former Windows boss Steven Sinofsky, speaking at the D11 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Asa Mathat/D: All Things Digital

To hear former Windows boss Steven Sinofsky tell it, Windows 8 is doing just fine, despite analyst reports that PC sales have declined, in part, because of tepid consumer interest in the 7-month-old operating system.

"It's hard for me to look at selling 100 million of something and not be happy," Sinofsky said at the D11 conference Thursday, according to AllThingsD's live blog of his conversation. (Microsoft said earlier this month it had sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses in the six months since Win 8's introduction.)

Asked why those Windows 8 sales haven't revived PC sales overall, an uptick both Wall Street and market analysts had expected, Sinofsky suggested patience.

"It will take a long time for things to play out," Sinofsky said. "It's exciting, but it means while it is going on you have to resist the urge to pick winners and losers."

Earlier today, Microsoft began to shift course a bit with the OS. It offered up a series of new features and functions for Windows 8 that will come in an update later this year, addressing some shortcomings of the operating system.

Perhaps the biggest reset in Windows 8.1 will be a so-called "Start tip," that's something of a half-step toward bringing back the Start button that many critics wanted. Clicking on the Start tip won't launch the familiar Start menu, found in older versions of Windows, but it will take people to the PC's Start screen, which they can customize.

Sinofsky didn't discuss the Windows update. Instead he talked more about software development and some of the challenges of innovating in a large organization.

"It's really just a classic Microsoft challenge -- you have all these people, and you want to align them," Sinofsky said, according to a live blog of the event by The Verge. "It's a management challenge, there's no shortage of ideas. You have to get them all on the same path."

Sinofsky didn't go into detail about his departure from Microsoft , just a few weeks after Windows 8 launched. A CNET profile of Sinofsky prior to his departure laid out fights he had with other Microsoft executives, including Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Sources said at the time that the company's senior leadership was increasingly concerned about Sinofsky's inability to work across divisions at Microsoft.

At D11, Sinofsky said his exit was his choice.

"You have to pick a time, so I picked a time," Sinofsky said, according to the AllThingsD blog.

Sinofsky, who is now teaching at Harvard Business School , isn't certain what he'll do next. He compared this time in his life to an earlier sabbatical he took. He said he's learning by writing and teaching.

"I'm not in a big rush," he said.

 

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