Steven Sinofsky Resigns From Microsoft (MSFT)

Microsoft (MSFT) announced late Monday that Steven Sinofsky, the head of the Windows division and the guy who had been seen by some as the successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, is leaving the Redmond-based company.

Sinofsky, who joined Microsoft as a software design engineer in 1989 and had been president of the Windows division from July 2009, is leaving with immediate effect, indicating a new wave of infighting within the software giant. Windows executives Julie Larson-Green has been promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering, while chief financial officer Tami Reller will remain CFO and chief marketing officer, and will also assume responsibility for the business of Windows, Microsoft said in a statement.

There is a wide degree of speculation over the reasons for Sinofsky’s departure, but according to tech site AllThingsD that first broke the news, the M’soft executive’s departure “came amid growing tension between Sinofsky and other top executives.”

“Sinofsky, though seen as highly talented, was viewed at the top levels as not the kind of team player that the company was looking for,” according to writer Ina Fried.

Business Insider also reports that Sinofsky had demanded the CEO role from Ballmer and threatened to quit if he did not get the nod.

The abrupt departure of Sinofsky, likened by some to the recent ouster at Apple (AAPL) of iOS chief Scott Forstall, comes less than a month after Sinofsky presided over the launch of Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Surface tablet, the company’s biggest new product roll out in years.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed Sinofsky’s departure in a company statement, describing the move as a “leadership change”.

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company. The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft,” Ballmer said.

Ballmer however, didn’t explain the real reason why such a prominent Microsoft executive who knew Msoft’s two most important businesses inside and out, was leaving the company.

MSFT ended lower $0.61, or 2.12%, to $28.22 in late trading Monday.

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