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Microsoft's Sinofsky, by the numbers

How many times he used 'fast and fluid' at Windows 8's intro, how much his division may have cost the company, and more

November 15, 2012 06:50 AM ET

Computerworld - Steven Sinofsky, once the king of Windows, is out.

But whether he left of his own volition, as he contended, or was forced out because of an abrasive management style or the so-far-underwhelming reaction to Windows 8, he stamped his name on some of the biggest successes in the company's history. He was also ultimately responsible for what may be one of the all-time costliest "technical errors" in technology history.

We've covered them all, whether we highlighted Sinofsky or not, because if Microsoft is best known for Windows, for the past six years, Sinofsky has been best known as the man behind Windows.

Even the numbers tell a story.

3%: How much the Windows division's revenue declined in Microsoft's fiscal year 2012 compared to the year before.

The downturn, caused by falling sales of PCs -- Microsoft makes the bulk of its Windows revenue by selling licenses to computer makers -- was cited by the board when it gave Sinofsky a bonus of just 60% of the maximum.

Zero: The number of Start buttons or menus included in the "classic" user interface (UI) of Windows 8.

The omission has elicited howls from some users, and created a cottage industry of utilities -- some free, such as Classic Shell, some for a fee, like Start8 -- that restore, in one form or another, the iconic Start button and menu to Windows 8.

One: The number of Surface tablets Sinofsky oversaw that has yet to ship.

Dubbed the "Surface Pro," the device is slated for a late January launch. Unlike the Surface RT, the Pro will be powered by Windows 8.

True to Sinofsky's preference for revealing less, not more, information to customers, OEM partners and competitors, Microsoft has not disclosed an exact launch date, the available configurations, or what it will charge for the tablet.

Two: The number of photos Sinofsky tweeted last month of skateboarding on a Surface RT, apparently to tout the tablet's Gorilla Glass 2-composed display.

But analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft, who has been critical of the number of quality apps for the Surface RT, had a different explanation for the skateboard stunt.

"He did that because he couldn't show it doing anything," Cherry quipped Wednesday.

Three: The number of Windows client editions that Sinofsky shepherded through development: Windows 7 (released October 2009), Windows 8 (October 2012) and Windows RT (October 2012).

Unlike the debacle that was 2007's Windows Vista -- which was years late and generally panned by reviewers, analysts, customers and even some high-level Microsoft executives -- Sinofsky's releases came out on time, and in the case of Windows 7, were wildly successful.

Sinofsky assumed command of Windows development in March 2006, about five months before Vista was delivered to enterprises.

Four: The number of Office editions Sinofsky oversaw as the head of development for Microsoft's suite.

Sinofsky herded Office 2000 (shipped June 1999), Office XP (March 2001), Office 2003 (October 2003) and Office 2007 (January 2007) through their development paces.

Six: The number of times Sinofsky used the phrase "fast and fluid," or a minor variation, to describe Windows 8 during a presentation on Sept. 13, 2011, at Microsoft's BUILD conference when he introduced the new operating system.



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