Steven Sinofsky with Microsoft

It's an eventful month for Microsoft in more ways than one -- its long-serving executive (and Windows lead) Steven Sinofsky is leaving the company, effective immediately. Internet Explorer, Office and Windows interface veteran Julie Larson-Green will be taking on most of his duties by heading up all Windows development, including hardware "opportunities" like Surface; CFO and CMO Tami Reller will take on the pure business and marketing sides of the OS. Microsoft declined to comment to us regarding the departure, although there's rumors of an uncanny parallel to Scott Forstall's departure at Apple -- AllThingsD claims that there was "growing tension" between Sinofsky and fellow executives. Whatever the reason Sinofsky left and regardless of where he's going, the move deprives Microsoft of an executive known for getting the development trains running on time.

Update: Windows-focused writer Paul Thurrott has obtained a copy of Sinofsky's email, which might shed some light on the departure. He portrays it as the outcome of some post-launch reflection and a chance to "seek new opportunities" based on his experience. It's clear Sinofsky anticipated that critics would be suspicious -- he's adamant that it was a personal decision and not the result of an internal scuffle. The sudden exit, he claims, is to help make "space" for his new replacements.

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Microsoft Announces Leadership Changes to Drive Next Wave of Products

Nov. 12, 2012

Steven Sinofsky to leave the company; Windows executives Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller take expanded roles.

REDMOND, Wash. - Nov. 12, 2012 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky will be leaving the company and that Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Tami Reller retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

These changes are effective immediately.

"I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company," Ballmer said. "The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We've built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and 'Halo 4,' and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings."

"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," Sinofsky said.

Since 1993, Larson-Green has worked on and led some of the most successful products for Microsoft, including the user experiences for early versions of Internet Explorer, and helped drive the thinking behind the refresh of the user experience for Microsoft Office. For Windows 7 and Windows 8 she was responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases. She has a master's degree in software engineering from Seattle University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Washington University. In her new role she will be responsible for all future Windows product development in addition to future hardware opportunities.

"Leading Windows engineering is an incredible challenge and opportunity, and as I looked at the technical and business skills required to continue our Windows trajectory - great communication skills, a proven ability to work across product groups, strong design, deep technical expertise, and a history of anticipating and meeting customer needs - it was clear to me that Julie is the best possible person for this job, and I'm excited to have her in this role," Ballmer said.

Reller joined Windows in 2007 from the Microsoft Dynamics Division where she held a number of leadership positions. She began her career in technology at Great Plains Software in 1984 while still in college, and was the company's chief financial officer at the time the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. She has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Minnesota State University Moorhead and an MBA from St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif. In her expanded role she will assume the lead in driving business and marketing strategy for Windows devices, including Surface and partner devices, in addition to her current marketing and finance responsibilities.

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Steven Sinofsky leaves Microsoft, Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller take the Windows reins (update: Sinofsky email)