3. Steven Sinofsky's Sudden Departure
The spotlight had been on Steven Sinofsky all year as the clock ticked down to the launch of Windows 8. As president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division, it was Sinofsky's job to oversee the development of the next release of Microsoft's flagship product. And it was Sinofsky who got to share the stage with CEO Steve Ballmer at an Oct. 25 press event where the availability of Windows 8 was officially announced. So it was a shock when less than three weeks later Sinofsky suddenly departed Microsoft with no official explanation. Speculation centered on reported friction between Sinofsky and other Microsoft executives. (One report had Sinofsky making a power grab to bring Windows Phone development under his control, a report Sinofsky denied.) Some channel partners questioned whether enough effort had gone into recruiting third-party ISVs to Windows 8. Others wondered whether early Windows 8 demand was meeting expectations. In late November Microsoft said it had sold 40 million Windows licenses in its first month -- a number that some analysts called respectable, but not blockbuster.