Microsoft Bans Ex-Windows Chief From Working At 7 Rival Vendors

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Microsoft, in its annual Form 10-K filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, included a list of companies that former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky can't go work for until the end of the year, according to the terms of his "retirement agreement."

Sinofsky, who left Microsoft last November after 23 years with the company, can't "accept direct or indirect employment" with Amazon, Apple, EMC, Facebook, Google, Oracle or VMware until Dec. 31, 2013, one year from the date of his official departure, Microsoft said in the 10-K.

The list of companies was first spotted by GigaOM Tuesday.

[Related: After iPad Sales Dip, Apple CEO Tim Cook Trash Talks Tablet Market]

What's ironic about Sinofsky's non-compete is that he himself was notorious for being obsessed with secrecy, especially during Windows 8 development. At last year's Build conference, Microsoft's field evangelists weren't allowed to talk to attendees about Windows 8, one Microsoft partner told CRN last November.

Most companies listed in the 10-K are obvious Microsoft rivals -- especially Google and VMware, which also are barred from attending Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference. is also banned from WPC, but isn't part of the list.

It's harder to see why Microsoft would be concerned about Sinofsky jumping to Facebook, since Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in the social network in 2007 for $240 million. Microsoft, however, did pay $1.2 billion last June to acquire Yammer, which has been described as a business-friendlier version of Facebook.

Oracle is a longtime Microsoft enterprise software rival, but the companies just unveiled a big cloud computing deal and are apparently on friendlier terms than in the past.

Microsoft first mentioned Sinofsky's non-compete agreement in an SEC filing last month, but didn't name the banned vendors.

In the filing, Microsoft said it awarded Sinofsky 418,361 shares, worth some $14.2 million, in return for complying with the terms of the retirement agreement.


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