Microsoft's Windows President Steven Sinofsky is billed as polarizing and a central planner who keeps products on time, but has ruffled a few feathers along the way. In this view, the success of Windows 8 could be a referendum on Microsoft's software development approach.
CNET's Jay Greene did a profile of Sinofsky, who generally avoids the press unless he's talking products. Sinofsky was the fix-it man for Windows following the Vista debacle. Windows 7 is a hit. Windows 8 seems to be polarizing in many respects. Personally, I give Microsoft credit for Windows 8. Win, lose or draw you can't blame Microsoft for being timid.
Greene serves up a bunch of interesting nuggets, but the short version goes like this:
The functional organization structure championed by Sinofsky is a flashpoint for his critics. Managers beneath Sinofsky say they had greater control over product development, working across groups with engineers, product managers, and software testers. Now, they say they feel more like cogs in the machinery, marching toward a final pre-determined goal, without the authority to shift course if they believe there's a more innovative approach to product design.
One former Microsoft executive said Sinofsky is like a Soviet central planner.
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Now if you play this out, Sinofsky's approach is interesting from a software development perspective. A few thoughts:
If Windows 8 succeeds---and frankly it could take a year to have a firm measure---Sinofsky's approach and a few disgruntled employees won't matter. If Windows 8 flops, Sinofsky probably will too.
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