Who is Julie Larson-Green? Meet the new head of Windows

Who is Julie Larson-Green? Meet the new head of Windows

Summary: Microsoft announced on November 12 that Windows President Steven Sinofsky is leaving, effective immediately. Meet the new head of Windows engineering, Julie Larson-Green.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows

I don't know the back story here, but here's what I do know: Microsoft President Steven Sinofsky is leaving Microsoft, effective immediately -- just days after launching his babies, Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface. And the new head of Windows is Julie Larson-Green.

As my CNET colleague Jay Greene reported, Microsoft is saying Sinofsky's departure was mutually agreed upon. Sinofsky is leaving to pursue other unspecified interests.


In the shake-up, announced on November 12, Microsoft said that Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Tami Reller will continue on as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, according to Microsoft's press release.

Julie Larson-Green has been Corporate Vice President, Program Management, Windows Client. Larson-Green is no stranger to Windows: She has had between 1,200 and 1,400 program managers, researchers, content managers and other members of the Windows team reporting to her.

Last time I got to interview her (March 2010), Larson-Green was in charge of Windows planning. Her colleagues Jon DeVaan and Grant George led Windows development and test, respectively. This core team of three reported directly to Sinofsky. This was a new structure for the Windows team since Windows 7 shipped. Rather than organizing Windows Client around smaller product units, the team operates more like the Microsoft Office team does -- not too surprising, given the leaders of the Windows team all came from Office.

Read this

How Steven Sinofsky changed Microsoft, for better and for worse

How Steven Sinofsky changed Microsoft, for better and for worse

When Steven Sinofsky moved to the Windows division in 2006, it was fundamentally broken. He leaves behind an engineering process that runs smoothly. But he also leaves a legacy of cutthroat politics and feuding between divisions.

Larson-Green applied to Microsoft right after she got her business management degree from Western Washington University, only to be told no. But she did land a job at desktop-publishing-software maker Aldus working on the product support call lines.

Microsoft "discovered" Larson-Green after a few Softies attended a talk she gave comparing Microsoft compilers to Borland compilers and asked her to run a Visual C++ focus group for the company. In 1993, she ended up landing a job on the Visual C++ team, where focused on the integrated development environment. She moved to the Internet Explorer team (where she worked on the user experience for IE 3.0 and 4.0) and then, in 1997, to the Office team to work on FrontPage, where she got her first group program manager job. She also did a stint on the SharePoint Team Services team, back when SharePoint was known as "Office.Net."

Larson-Green subsequently led user interface design for Office XP, Office 2003 and Office 2007.

I cannot pretend I am sad about the passing of the torch. I have been persona non grata with the Windows division for the entire time that Sinofsky ran it. Many long-time Microsoft employees, managers and testers have expressed similar sentiments, mostly in private. Here's hoping to better days, in terms of how the Windows client team interacts with all of its constituents: Its customers, partners and us Microsoft watchers.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Has my investment been orphaned?

    As a non-resident of the Redmond circle, what does this mean for me and the $700 I just laid-out for my new Surface RT? Was he sacked because of the 'modest' sales?

    Has my new toy (which I love) just been orphaned like its cousin the Kin?
    • No, Microsoft is all-in with Windows 8/RT

      There's no turning back now, you're good.
    • Thats what I'd like to know.

      I just hope Gazelle starts accepting these things so we can at least have that assurance should things go south.
    • I think the surface RT

      will fail on its own. Windows on ARM with no apps is confusing to Joe Consumer and that confusion alone will limit the RT to unknowing consumers and Microsoft Fanboys. The consumers will wise up really fast.

      I am hoping she allows there to be a GPO that will shut off the Metro start screen and give us a Windows 7 like start button. If that were the case my company would seriously think about Windows 8. There are some good features under the hood, but not good enough to live with Metro.
      • Windows RT vs. Windows 8

        Developers can allow their apps to target x64, x86, or ARM...or even all 3. All with the same codebase. And if consumers are wising up fast, why is it rated so hard by CONSUMERS on gdgt.com?
        • Windows RT doesn't have the same code base

          Otherwise it would be trivial to just recompile desktop applications for RT and have them "just work".

          They don't.
          • Talking about Metro apps, not desktop

            Making a Metro app is one code base compiled for ARM, x86 and/or x64. Or for more powerful apps that use Win32 calls (not just WinRT) it can only compile to x86 and/or x64 and not ARM.

            When making a Metro app, you don't send the compiled executable to the Windows Store but the source code which the store compiles for your targeted platforms as it needs to be optimized for the targeted processor.
          • compiled

            It does have the same code base with changes where needed. In fact, in the desktop mode there are tons of "pro" features like domain join that are greyed out. Traditoinal Win7 programs will not run because they were compiled specifically for Intel architecture. That's why WinRT was invented. It allows developers to crate apps for both architectures at the same time.
      • Cross Platform Programs

        C is a standalone language that can be compiled on ARM. So Windows programs can work on all three architectures.
        • Only if the required code base libraries are there.

          Otherwise you get a big fail.

          RT doesn't have the libraries required.
          • Hmmm..

            I would venture to guess that if Office can be ported to RT pretty much any Windows app can.
      • Download Classic Start Menu

        hello! all you need is the Classic Start Menu program downloadable for FREE @ http://classicshell.sourceforge.net. Had installed it in 5 computers running Win8 and works much better than original Windows 7 Start Menu. Totally customizable and user-friendly.
      • Better yet; run RT apps in windows

        Better than just a straight UI route from start to desktop; why not run Metro-style apps within their own Windows, possibly in VMs?

        Not only does that make better use of screen real estate, it also improves the ability to run multiple Metro apps at the same time, and see what's going on. The mouse could dip into stubby-finger mode as it passes over those windows, which will reduce mouse travel if they are rendered smaller (i.e. similar visual size as hand-held devices - especially suitable for apps designed for smartphone sizes).

        The VM approach could be a useful way to sandbox these apps, as well as multitasking them properly. Security/safety would be better; a good hedge if these sub-PC apps attract malware attack.

        This approach also leverages the exta processing power of a "real" computer. The ARM chipset could be emulated, the extra VM overhead swallowed, and PC-strength firewall and resident av protection bestowed on what may otherwise be lacking, due to lower ARM platform perfomance and resources.

        A hand-held app would need a window roughly the size of Calc.exe - imagine Calc.exe running full screen on a 23" monitor, and having to mouse that far between calculator buttons? That's how the current "pretend the PC is a tablet" logic plays out.

        It wouldn't surprise me if tablets morphed towards smart phones rather than laptops, i.e. the even smaller screen size. The above approach would be spot-on for that.
    • Surface RT sales not modest

      Surface RT sales were never announced to be "modest", the original translation/reporting was incorrect. Ballmer's quote was that their original availability of the device (US/Canada, some European countries, China late) was modest.
    • If you read the whole statement online , it was

      "modest sales due to limited availability." As more RT tablets become available sales will continue
      William Farrel
    • better story

      if anything, I think future updates will come quicker and hopefully us Win8 Pro users will get a start button on the desktop.
  • Wow! Double-Wow!

    Please write more articles on this once you dig up the details! (Probably the decision to hide the Start button did it... ;-) Did he just get exhausted? Did Ballmer view him as a threat? Does he not want to be around if Windows 8/RT is a flop?
    • What really holds back Windows and Linux

      Just as the rabid in-fighting within the FOSS ranks and the explosion of Linux distros holds back Linux as a whole, so Microsoft's eat-your-own-children internal politics holds back Windows and Microsoft as a whole.

      If things are so bad within Microsoft that Sinofsky leaves just days after the Windows 8/RT launch (when you'd expect him to enjoy the fruits of years of hard work for at least a month or two), how did this toxic environment influence the development of Windows 8/RT? How did it hold back Windows Phone and Xbox integration? And since political transitions bring on new stressors of their own, what's going on inside Microsoft right now?

      Windows 8/RT is such a huge gamble for Microsoft, and now *this* shake-up... Wow. So many top brass have left Microsoft in the last few years in similarly unsettling ways...
  • Rumor has it

    Rumor has it Sinofsky wants the CEO position and Ballmer is no where near ready to let go the reins. Sinofsky knows the clock is ticking (He's no spring chick) and if he wants to be a CEO he needs to move on.
    • Wat the F!!!

      is going to take for Microsoft to push Ballmer out the door? EVERYONE has been calling for it for years. Yet lots of other people get let go??????