Photo: Screenshot Of Microsoft’s Surface Launch Video
Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky is the latest idiosyncratic tech executive teetering on the brink of being considered a god-like genius.With Microsoft set to release Windows 8, a radical redesign of the world’s most popular operating system, all eyes will be on Sinofsky.
If Windows 8 is a smashing success, Sinofsky will seal his position as one of the most talented, and important executives in tech. He’ll also have a clearer path to become CEO of Microsoft.
If Windows 8 is a disaster, then Microsoft will lose more share to Apple and Google and the company’s recent slide into irrelevance will accelerate. If this happens, Microsoft might actually finally be screwed as a consumer company, which is something people have been predicting on a weekly basis for the last 10 years or so. In this scenario, Sinofsky will not become CEO. He’ll have been humbled, and could even end up out of the company.
Here are the key points for understanding who Sinofsky is and how he’s influencing almost every part of Microsoft’s operations:
- He has a signature style of dressing. He wears v-neck sweaters with t-shirts underneath.
- His big claim to fame is helping Microsoft recover from the Vista disaster. Microsoft released Vista, which was reviled. Sinofsky delivered Windows 7, which was hailed as a great operating system. It was also delivered on-time, which was important for Microsoft.
- His rigid adherence to shipping schedules is costly, according to his critics. A former Microsoft executive says Sinofsky’s management style leads to “soulless” products. It also prevents the company from delivering innovation because everything is planned out.
- He hates skunkworks projects. Those are the side projects big tech companies use to innovate and experiment with new products. Sinofsky thinks you can innovate as a big company without little side groups.
- He is grabbing more power. He controls Windows, which is the heart and soul of Microsoft. When other groups at the company look at making products that tie in with Windows, he tends to quash their ideas in favour of Windows-built products. The company is increasingly siloed, because Sinofsky is taking control, say former employees.
- He writes long emails and long blog posts.
- He’s universally considered to be very smart.
- People think he could be CEO but… One reason Sinofsky wouldn’t become CEO when Ballmer retires is that Sinofsky is too demanding and doesn’t tend to work well with other people.