Sinofsky strikes back, says there was no power grab at Microsoft

Steven Sinofsky

Steven Sinofsky, the former Windows poobah at Microsoft has apparently heard enough about a power grab being the reason for his departure and wants to set the record straight.

Most of the reports  (including my own) about Sinofsky’ sudden and tersely worded departure from Microsoft Monday centered on the notion that he wanted more power and that he resisted top management  ie. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. (Microsoft has offered very basic comments on his departure and last night at The Churchill Club, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer lauded Sinofsky’s contributions to the company.)

But still, most people — including many Microsoft insiders — were shocked at his exit and posited that he wanted more power at the company. That’s perception sparked his response to a blog post by former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Hal Berenson who wrote:

“Steven had apparently lost recent battles to bring both Windows Phone and the Developer Division under his control.  I suspect that he saw those loses [sic] both as a roadblock to where he wanted to take Windows over the next few years, and a clear indication that his political power within Microsoft had peaked.  At the very point where he should have been able to ask for, and receive, almost anything as reward for his proven success he got slapped down.  And so he chose to leave.”

A commenter who identified himself as Sinofsky (and who appears to be the real deal as Berenson’s response to him shows) wrote:

“I find myself feeling [needing] to offer some insight — relative to what you say above, I never initiated any discussions to bring together the organizations/products you describe and no one ever approached me to manage them as part of Windows 7 or 8.”

Sinofsky also maintained that at during his tenure at Microsoft he resisted attempts to take more teams under his purview:

“If we had worked together you would know that historically, very few things moved into teams I managed as (you’ve no doubt seen in internal blogs) and when they did I usually pushed back hard looking for a cross-group way to achieve the goal (in other words, decide open issues rather than force an org change to subsequently decide something). it is far better to collaborate with the org in place and avoid the disruption unless it is on a product cycle boundary and far better to plan and execute together than just organize together.”

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user ToddABishop

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