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A Wall Street Journal article Tuesday said Microsoft watchers had considered Sinofsky to be a possible successor to Ballmer. But, the story also said he was widely seen as "a polarizing figure" who was unable to collaborate well with other senior executives.
Several industry watchers said Sinofsky's reported difficulty in working with others was a likely factor in his quick departure. "From what I read, he wasn't the best at cooperating with other departments in Microsoft. I don't see how that could ever be good for an organization, so in that regard this could be a positive," said Ferguson at Wasatch I.T.
Others lament his departure. "Sinofsky was great at getting things done, and getting them done well," said John Kvasnic, CEO and co-founder of Navantis, a Toronto-based Microsoft partner.
"It's not unusual for people at Microsoft to finish a project and move somewhere else," said Gartner analyst Mike Silver in an interview. "But usually that's within Microsoft if it's successful and outside of Microsoft if it's not. And, I think Sinofsky's reputation precedes him, in terms of his personality and way of doing things, and certainly there have been rumors about dissension at Microsoft. You can only get away with certain behaviors as long as your products are hugely successful."
The CEO of a top Microsoft partner said Sinofsky's sudden departure could have been in part due to what he saw as a lack of available third-party applications for Windows 8. "Microsoft is two years late developing an application development community for Windows 8," said the CEO, who did not want to be identified for fear that it would hurt his relationship with the software giant.
"I hear chatter all the time for companies to develop for iOS and Android. I don't hear anybody talking about getting a Windows 8 application out there." The first priority for the two Microsoft executives replacing Sinofsky has to be to "engage the development community to develop robust Windows 8 mobile applications," the CEO said.
The executive thought Sinofsky did a good job with the presentation layer of Windows 8, developing a new mobile interface that could allow Microsoft to make up lost ground in the tablet and smartphone market. But he said Sinofsky did a poor job of building a Windows 8 application development community.
Other partners don't see the number of applications available for Windows 8 as an issue. Christopher Hertz, CEO of New Signature, a fast-growing, Microsoft exclusive solution provider based in Washington, D.C., said the quality of Microsoft Windows 8 applications are "high" and certainly sufficient for consumers and businesses.
"Measuring the success of a platform by the number of apps is a poor measure," Hertz said. "Many of those applications are not used. I have an iPad and I only use maybe seven or eight applications. The general populace uses less than 1 percent of the apps available."