Sinofsky is Gone, so here’s a Blast from the Past
I just saw the news about Steven Sinofsky leaving Microsoft, and couldn’t help but notice it cited him not being a team player. This reminded me of a blog post I made back on September 22, 2008. Since that post is no longer online, I figured I would re-publish it now for your viewing pleasure. So without further ado, the open letter to Microsoft and the community. Funny how this letter predicted what came to pass, Julie Larson-Green is now in charge of Windows Engineering. Good luck Julie!
Open Letter to Microsoft and the Community
I decided to write this letter with the help of various others in the community to agree with my assessment of current things relating to Windows 7 and the way it is being handled. Enjoy the letter, I think we make a LOT of good points that need to be considered.
The growing number of atrocities committed by Steven Sinofsky as the Senior Vice President of the Windows group has been mounting week by week. Recently, I think we saw the effect of this boil over. But first, before we get into that, I think we need to examine who he is and what he has done.
Steven Sinofsky was brought in during a time of great turmoil, when Microsoft was doing it’s damndest to recover from the mess that Jim Allchin and Brian Valentine made. Don’t get me wrong, they were good people and had only the best of intentions, but they made a damn mess out of Windows. Windows was late, unstable, and had an entire Operating System scrapped, billions wasted.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of a board member of Microsoft. Here we have the two highest revenue generating products, one ships like clockwork, pushes out innovation, is loved, has no PR problems, and most often comes in under budget. Then, we have this other product. It’s getting horrible press, it keeps getting delayed, it’s budget grows and its performance decreases.
The only logical choice is for Windows managed like Office. I must say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the Windows ship would be ran as tightly as Office. But as time passed, that excitement waned. It was two months after Windows Vista RTM’d that it became clear what kind of ship Windows was going to be.
Steven Sinofsky’s defiance to talk about Windows Vista Service Pack 1 painted the picture of what the road to the next version of Windows would be like. All we wanted to know is what Service Pack 1 would be. Would it fix performance bugs? Would it fix file transfer speeds? Should we have any hope that Windows Vista would get better? Alas, none of these questions were answered.
Soon after, Steven, under your directive, Microsoft employees were not even allowed to acknowledge that they were working on a new version of Windows. This was purely ludicrous, as we all know you would not have thousands of employees spinning around in their ergonomic chairs, in their beautiful little offices. The refusal to admit such a mundane detail was where your castle started to crumble.
This enraged us, and made us determined to undermine you in any way possible. We chose the method of rumor mongering. This gave way to the general belief that the next version of Windows would “go to pieces” or other stupid ideas. I will admit, this was not at all how we should of reacted. But you left us no choice. Damn it, you would not even let the name “Windows 7” be spoken until November of 2007!
As you continued to keep up your policy of defiance, all of got even more and more angry. All the Microsoft contacts that anyone in this community had were starting to let their anger show. These people WANTED to let people know what was going on with their features, or at least wanted to hear what customers thought about what they had. You had succeeded at enraging your employees and the Windows Enthusiasts.
For you see, the culture, the very essence of the Windows Enthusiast/ Microsoft relationship was based on openness and sharing. It is obvious but unnecessary that you didn’t want to be as open with Windows 7 as you were with Windows Longhorn. As I already mentioned, the management of Windows Longhorn was horrible, which is something that Windows 7 would not suffer from. You used,(and have continued to use) Windows Longhorn as an excuse to not talk.
Who could resist the temptations of an Apple like disclosure policy? We know how those psycho zealots react at their
cult gatheringsconferences. Who wouldn’t want that for their product? But Steven, you do not realize that Apple has always been like that. Windows was never like that, that is why such a drastic transition would never work… You attempted to wrap a fusion of Apple secrecy and Office management around this thing called Windows. This experiment failed miserably, and any competent manager would have recognized this failure with the reception of how Service Pack 1 was handled.
I am sure that Steve Ballmer has seen this failure on your part, but it would be impossible to remove you in the middle of the Windows development. In fact, you have strategically placed yourself at the heart of Windows 8 before Windows 7 has even reach beta, to make sure that you cannot be removed without the project falling apart.
You had the opportunity to talk about the Windows 7 vision, possibly even give monthly “State of Windows” videos on Channel 9. But no. You chose complete secrecy. And do not even try and comfort yourself with this “Engineering 7 blogs.” You have this innate ability to talk so much and say so little. Karl Rove would be proud of you. Do you see what this has done? It has made it so when something does leak, it is spread to all corners of the community with anger and aggression, with the sole purpose as a vendetta against you and solely you.
Over this past week, there has been an explosion of leaked information regarding 6780. Steven, this is directly because of your choice to remain quiet. Would you have simply announced if PDC attendees should expect a build of Windows 7, you would not have this problem on your hands.
In the past, Windows has always had a face. For quite some time we had Bill Gates. He was and still is revered as a God. Then, we got Jim Allchin and he did a pretty good job as the face of Windows. Despite his blunder known as Longhorn, he was who we rallied around. This time, you have not given us a person like that. You have stood in the shadows, and given us a person to hate. Our hatrid for you grows every day that you are in the seat of power that you are in. As a community, we need someone to look up to. We need a face. If you chose to swoop in now and be the face of Windows, we would see right through it as a PR ploy. I implore you to get this through your head. We do not want you. Now, nor shall we ever.
But, let it be known, we do need someone to rally around. There is such a person in the Windows group. This is a person who motivates the employees. This person can lead the designing of new paradigms by developing brilliant new research methods. This person is willing to speak to the public. This person is possibly the only one who could replace you with the plans for future versions of Windows failing apart. This person knows what you have done right, and knows what you have failed horribly at. This person knows how to keep the customers happy. This person is Julie Larson-Green.
Julie Larson-Green led the development of the highly successful ribbon UI and keeps all her employees happy. When we hear that she will be in a public forum, we all get giddy at the idea of hearing her speak. Julie has seen your miserable failures, and she would know what to do and what not to do. She would find the balance between transparency and translucency.
That is why I am asking that the Windows Community backs me in my demand to the CEO of the Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer, the Founder and Chairman of the board of the Microsoft Corporation, and the rest of the Board of Directors of the Microsoft Corporation recognize Steven Sinofsky’s failures, and back me in my demand that Steven Sinofsky be replaced by Julie Larson-Green at the end of the development of Windows 7.
I sincerely thank all of you for your time.
(Chris123NT) And the rest of the Microsoft Enthusiast community