Why Steven Sinofsky Really Left Microsoft

Microsoft is sure to miss some of Sinofsky’s attributes. He was the fixer, and the guy who kept the trains running on time at a company that made a religion out of being late. “He would be able to tell a year in advance what day the product would ship to the customer,” says Vince Mendillo, a former Microsoft employee who spent years working with Sinofsky. “He’s a brilliant engineer who understood the customer’s articulated and unarticulated needs better than anyone else.”Such qualities explain Sinofsky’s rise to become what amounted to second in command behind Ballmer. But they were also part of his undoing. As Mendillo points out, Sinofsky’s focus on hitting schedules sometimes meant a reluctance to chase after breakthrough innovations. Just like Ballmer, Sinofsky underestimated the threats that Apple’s iPad and iPhone posed to Microsoft, and he deserves much of the blame for Microsoft’s decline in relevance.

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