Julie Larson-Green Replaces Steven Sinofsky as Top Windows Boss

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 01:39 Written by admin Tuesday, 13 November 2012 01:39

Julie Larson-Green has replaced Steven Sinofsky as the Windows and Windows Live President, according to Microsoft. The move is unexpected to say the least, and Julie certainly has a bumpy ride to look forward to. She’s taking the Windows helm in a time when the division is underperforming and selling less and less of the company’s flagship product.

It’s unclear whether Sinofsky’s departure has anything to do with the drop in Windows sales, or the modest selling performance of Surface tablets. However, people close to the Redmond company are revealing that at fault might be key vision disparities between Sinofsky and other top Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer. Nothing is confirmed, of course, and such details will most likely remain unconfirmed for a long time to come, unless Sinofsky writes his memoirs, or there’s a Windows 8 Easter egg that tell the true story.

Larson-Green managed to drive a lot of innovation that impacted products such as Office and Windows 7. She’s credited for pushing natural user interfaces such as Ribbon/Fluent for Office, and she oversaw the UX evolution of Windows 8 and its predecessor, Windows 7.

Larson-Green’s immediate focus is to whip Windows Blue, the successor of Windows 8, into shape, and continue with Windows 9, two operating system releases reportedly due in 2013 and in 2014, respectively.

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Windows 8 Comes with New Features Across the Full Breadth of the Product

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 02:11 Written by Mire_B Wednesday, 17 August 2011 02:10

Windows 8 comes with new features across the full breadth of the product. What features exactly we’ll only find out starting with BUILD in September. I’m hearing that it’s certainly worth the wait, but there’s nothing specific from Microsoft. Not in the first post on the Building Windows 8 Blog and not in the second – it went live minutes ago. Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows and Windows Live Division focuses on offering a glimpse behind the development project’s curtain, to the many many teams working on Windows 8.


Thanks for the comments and the flood of email we received (and to the number of folks now following us on Twitter, too). It is definitely humbling to see all the enthusiasm and interest. There are clearly already few important threads in the initial comments, some of which are based on the previews of the Windows 8 user experience. We’re definitely gearing up to discuss these issues, the design, and tradeoffs. Windows 8 has new features across the full breadth of the product. It takes quite a team to build Windows 8, and so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the team structure—sometimes the “how” can help folks to understand the “what” and the “why.” This will give you an outline of the places we added features to Windows 8. It will also serve as a bit of a guide as we talk about the product.


It is tempting for some to think of Windows as one entity or group, or for some to think of Windows as just a set of specific people. Sometimes someone speaks at a conference or has a blog, and that comes to represent the product for you. In reality, Windows is always a product of the whole team and much of Microsoft. Nearly every development group contributes to building Windows 8 in some form or another. And Windows contributes efforts to most other groups as well.


Windows is a fairly broad project made up of a set of coordinated smaller projects. When we started building Windows 8 we had a clear sense of the direction we were heading and so we built a team structure to support that direction. Many of the teams work together while at the same time we try to break the work down into fairly independent groups—obviously as a customer you want things to work together, but as an engineer, you also want to be able to work independently. That’s a fine balance we work to maintain.


A lot goes into building a team structure to get all the work of Windows done. The most important first step is deciding “what” we plan to get done, so that we can make sure we have the best teams in place and the best structure to do that work. At the same time we have to make sure all the engineering processes—like daily builds, integration, quality, security, and all the fundamentals—are integral from the start (lots to talk about on these topics!).


We have several engineering roles, or disciplines, that make up our team. The implementation work on Windows happens when developers write code. This code implements features that come from specifications written by program management along with interaction designs from our product designers. Testers are responsible for making sure the spec is complete and the code does what the spec says it should do. This is a simplified view of the relationship between roles, since we routinely walk a bit in each other’s shoes. There are several other equally important roles on the team, but we tend to think of our engineering effort as development, test, and program management working together in lockstep throughout the entire release—each role has an equal voice in the outcome and choices we make.


We organize the work of Windows into “feature teams,” groups of developers who own a combination of architectural elements and scenarios across Windows. We have about 35 feature teams in the Windows 8 organization. Each feature team has anywhere from 25-40 developers, plus test and program management, all working together. Our teams are all focused on building a global product, and so some of our teams are located outside the US and are also delivering globally.


In general a feature team owns and builds what that most folks would identify as an area or component of Windows. “Feature” is always a tricky word—some folks think a feature is a broad architectural component like the “user interface” or networking, and other folks might think a feature is something more specific, like the “start menu” or IPv6. So the term is a bit overloaded. When we set up different feature teams, we pair the architecture (code, subsystems, components) with the scenarios (user experience) in which users will encounter it, while also working to make sure we keep teams small and manageable. We long ago stopped trying to count new features because of the difficulty in defining a feature. We do count work items, which do map to the work and specs that we build (but that is a pretty long list).


When folks do the math and come up with the number of developers on the team, we usually hear one of two reactions: “wow, that is a lot, and there is no way that can work,” or “wow, you build a product for a billion people with a pretty small number folks.” It is to our benefit to have the smallest number of people on the team possible, but it is to your benefit to have the largest number of people adding all the things that folks might want. So, we find a place in the middle. We want the team to be manageable and able to produce high quality, full-featured code.


I mentioned earlier that Windows contributes code to lots of other products and vice versa, so when you look at this list, keep in mind there are features from other groups (for example, our browser language runtime comes from the development tools group) and some of the work here goes into other products, too. For example, all of our kernel, networking, storage, virtualization, and other fundamental OS work is also part of Windows Server—that’s right, one team delivers the full Windows Client OS and much of the foundation for the Windows Server OS. And some features are built in the core OS but are ultimately only part of the Server product.


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Building Windows 8 Blog, an Open Dialog on the OS

Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2011 09:47 Written by Mire_B Monday, 15 August 2011 09:46

Less than a month to go until BUILD, Microsoft launches the official Windows 8 Blog. Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows and Windows Live Division and blogger extraordinaire is back. Last time around he was peening posts for the Windows 7 Engineering blog, and now he upgraded to the Building Windows 8 Blog.


In the “Welcome to Building Windows 8” introductory post, Sinofsky makes sure that the public knows to expect the testing process of the first pre-release Windows 8 version sometime in the coming months.



Building the next release of Microsoft Windows is an industry-wide effort that Microsoft approaches with a strong sense of responsibility and humility. Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices, and will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally.


We’ve been hard at work designing and building Windows 8, and today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months. We intend to post regularly throughout the development of Windows 8, and to focus on the engineering of the product. Welcome to “Building Windows 8,” or as we call it, “B8.”


For the Windows team, this blog is an important part of developing Windows 8, as was our blog for Windows 7. Blogging allows us to have a two-way dialog with you about design choices, real-world data and usage, and new opportunities that are part of Windows 8. Together, we will start the unique adventure of bringing a major product to market. We’re genuinely excited to talk about the development of Windows 8 and to engage thoughtfully with the community of passionate end-users, developers, and information professionals.


Reimagining Windows from chips to experience


Windows 8 reimagines Windows. That’s a big statement and one that we will return to throughout this blog. It is also important to know that we’re 100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold.


But so much has changed since Windows 95—the last time Windows was significantly overhauled—when the “desktop” metaphor was established. Today more than two out of three PCs are mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.). Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity. Screen sizes range from under 10″ to wall-sized screens and multiple HD screens. Storage has jumped from megabytes to terabytes and has moved up to the cloud. The appearance of touch-screen mobile phones with the rich capabilities they bring, have together changed the way we all view computing. Most of all, computing is much more focused on applications and on people than on the operating system itself or the data. These changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience.


We showed you a preview of Windows 8 in June, demonstrating the user experience and providing an update on ARM SoC support. The next major event for Windows is our BUILD conference in September, where we will provide developers with more details about the full spectrum of tools and capabilities available to make the most of Windows 8. This blog is a chance for us to discuss the details and provide a behind the scenes look at the evolution of Windows 8.


With our preview in June, we started by showing you user experience, because it is the most visible change to Windows. Rest assured we’ve thoughtfully engineered changes across the full range of Windows capabilities. But this presents us a challenge in deciding where to start the dialog.


We know people who care a lot about networking want to know our plans there. We know people who are invested heavily in storage want to know what is new in that area. Many want to know about performance and fundamentals. We know developers, IT pros, and gamers all want to know what’s new for them. There is so much packed into Windows 8 and there are so many unique and important lenses through which to view Windows 8, and so we want to be sure to take the time to cover as many of these topics as possible, to build up a shared understanding of why we’ve taken Windows where we have. So in the next weeks we will just start talking specifics of features, since there is no obvious place to start given the varying perspectives. From fundamentals, to user interface, to hardware support, and more, if something is important to you, we promise we’ll get to it in some form or another.


We’ve heard people express frustration over how little we’ve communicated so far about Windows 8. We’ve certainly learned lessons over the years about the perils of talking about features before we have a solid understanding of our ability to execute.


Our intent with this pre-release blog is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about, before we talk about it. Our top priority is the responsibility we feel to our customers and partners, to make sure we’re not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of you who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows. Rather than generating traffic or building excitement, this blog is here to provide a two-way dialog about the complexities and tradeoffs of product development.


Focusing on engineering


We started the Engineering Windows 7 blog in 2008 in recognition of the need to re-engage the community and rebuild trust relative to the engineering and design of Windows. While engineering Windows 7, we learned some great lessons and renewed our sense of responsibility to the community.


As we moved on to building Windows 8, we took those values and have built on them. Our focus on performance, reliability, compatibility, security, and quality is now baked into our engineering process even as we change Windows for a new generation. With these changes come new ways of doing work on Windows PCs as well as continual investments in hardware, software, and peripherals.


We intend to continue our dialog around performance and fundamental engineering of Windows. The feedback on these topics and the desire to talk about them in depth was clear during the development of Windows 7.


Starting our dialog


We know that blogging about Windows 8 will bring out the passionate opinions of many people, including members of our team. As a team we’re all going to participate—many of us will author posts, and all of us will read and take note of your comments on this blog. We’ll participate in a constructive dialog with you. We’ll also make mistakes and admit it when we do. It is almost certain that something will hit a nerve, with the team or with the community, or both, in the blog posts or in the product, or both. In any case, we’ll work hard to have constructive conversations with you, share the data, and, when the situation calls for it, make thoughtful changes.


Feel free to send us your thoughts via comments or email—we can’t respond to every question we receive, but your suggestions for blog topics are welcome. The email contact link in the right pane goes straight to my inbox without any filter (except spam filtering). Please note that we are also making this blog available in several other languages (acting on feedback from the Engineering Windows 7 blog) and you can expect to see those posts within 48 hours of the English language post.


If you’re looking for notifications of posts, then be sure to follow us on Twitter @BuildWindows8. Look for shortened URLs of http://win8.ms/ with links to posts and videos.


With that, we’ll just ask you to stay tuned and join us in this dialog about the engineering of Windows 8.


–Steven Sinofsky


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