Apple recently had an executive shake-up, and now Microsoft’s Windows division is going through one as well. The Redmond-based company has announced that Steven Sinofsky, President of Windows and Windows Live, is leaving Microsoft, effective immediately. Julie Larson-Green will take his place as head Windows software and hardware engineering, while Tami Reller will take over the business side.

Sinofsky’s departure is somewhat of a shock, and comes just weeks after the launch of Windows 8, which he spearheaded. It’s actually quite common for people to leave their jobs after the completion of a project, but nobody suspected that Sinofsky would leave Microsoft.

Before becoming the President of Windows and Windows Live, Sinofsky made a name for himself in the Office division, where he started as a Software Development Engineer (SDE), moved on to Program Management (PM), and eventually rose to the head of Office. He and Larson-Green were responsible for Office 2007′s innovative ribbon interface and, more recently, Windows 8′s brand new look and feel. Throughout it all, Sinofsky was known for meeting deadlines while putting out a high-quality product.

There are many rumors surrounding the circumstances of the Windows leadership changes, but in his farewell letter to Microsoft employees, Sinofsky states that “none could be true.” It was a “personal and private choice.” Regardless, Sinofsky’s influence will be felt throughout the company for some time to come.

From: Steven Sinofsky
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 6:42 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: RE: Windows Leadership Changes

With the general availability of Windows 8/RT and Surface, I have decided it is time for me to take a step back from my responsibilities at Microsoft. I’ve always advocated using the break between product cycles as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and that applies to me too.

After more than 23 years working on a wide range of Microsoft products, I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences. My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines.

The Windows team, in partnerships across all of Microsoft and our industry, just completed products and services introducing a new era of Windows computing. It is an incredible experience to be part of a generational change in a unique product like Windows, one accomplished with an undeniable elegance. Building on Windows, Surface excels in design and utility for a new era of PCs.   With the Store, Internet Explorer, Outlook.com, SkyDrive and more, each of which lead the way, this experience is connected to amazing cloud services.

It is inspiring to think of these efforts making their way into the hands of Microsoft’s next billion customers. We can reflect on this project as a remarkable achievement for each of us and for the team.  Our work is not done, such is the world of technology, and so much more is in store for customers.

It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft. I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company. I am beyond grateful.

I have always promised myself when the right time came for me to change course, I would be brief, unlike one of my infamous short blog posts, and strive to be less memorable than the products and teams with which I have been proudly and humbly associated.   The brevity of this announcement is simply a feature.

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.

I am super excited for what the future holds for the team and Microsoft.

With my deepest appreciation,

Steven Sinofsky

[Microsoft News Center via enConnected | SuperSite for Windows]