"Steven has made one of most amazing contributions anybody will ever make to any company in terms of guiding key activities and engineering systems," Ballmer said.
From various reports, it appeared that Steve Ballmer had reached his limit with Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. He had rolled out Windows 8 and the Surface with some success, but it was time in the organization for a different leadership style. After 23 years, Sinofsky was sent packing, or decided make his own exit. The company said the decision was mutually agreed upon by the two longtime colleagues.
In a conversation with Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist, at a Churchill Clubevent, Ballmer was asked about future directions with the management change but didn't shed much light on what led to Sinofsky's split with the company.
"Steven has made one of most amazing contributions anybody will ever make to any company in terms of guiding key activities and engineering systems," Ballmer said. "I wish him well. He's always recommended if you make a change you make it on a product boundary."
He noted that the new team taking Windows forward may be less well known, but the new chief, Julie Larson-Green, has been "a driver behind the vision."
Read: Steven Sinofsky: Microsoft's controversial Mr. Windows 8
Read: Microsoft, Apple, and the demise of the take-no-prisoners exec
As CNET's Jay Greene reported in his story on Sinofsky's departure, "Ballmer is on this big kick to get different pieces of the company working together and Sinofsky had his middle finger extended," a former Microsoft executive said. The Windows leader, who also tamed Microsoft Office when it was having development problems, had become too divisive at a time when collaboration among the divisions was deemed by Ballmer the critical path.
In appointing the 19-year Microsoft veteran Larson-Green to lead Windows engineering, Ballmer wrote, "Her unique product and innovation perspective and proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda will serve us well as she takes on this new leadership role."
In his parting note, Sinofsky wrote:
"Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing. I can assure you that none could be true as this was a personal and private choice that in no way reflects any speculation or theories one might read--about me, opportunity, the company or its leadership. As I've always believed in making space for new leaders as quickly as possible, this announcement is effective immediately and I will assist however needed with the transition."
Sinofksky's departure due to politics or products?
Meet Julie Larson-Green, the new head of Windows