Feeds

Metro's mother to replace defenestrated Windows boss Sinofsky

Larson-Green also invented Office Ribbon. Just sayin'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Comment Microsoft's decision to fill the small void left by departing Windows boss Steven Sinofsky with Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller is a boost for the empowerment of women at US tech companies.

Larson-Green is Microsoft's first female Windows development chief, in the wake of Tuesday's shock departure of Windows and Windows Live president Sinofsky. She's now in charge of building updates to Windows 8 and its successor, Windows Next. Her contemporaries include Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard's Meg Whitman.

On Larson-Green's shoulders rests responsibility for the engineering work of an $18bn business and enduring a period of upheaval and great uncertainty. Revenue for the Windows group fell during the company's most recent fiscal year as the economy sagged and people drifted towards smartphones and tablets.

But who is Larson-Green and what's really in store?

The first thing to realise is that Larson-Green is not a straight replacement for Sinofsky: she doesn't enjoy the full group president's role that Sinofsky wielded. Larson-Green is head of Windows software and engineering; the job of running the Windows business goes to existing Windows group vice-president Tami Reller.

Dividing the role of a departing boss between two lower-ranking executives has, incidentally, happened in other Microsoft reorganisations.

Larson-Green joined the Redmond giant in 1993 and spent large parts of her time working on user interfaces and what Microsoft calls the user "experience". She worked with Sinofksy on Office XP and Office 2003 and most notably oversaw the design of Office 2007, which introduced a controversial change: the Ribbon.

She continued to lead the development of the user interface in Windows 7 and 8. As a former corporate vice-president of Windows client program management, she was responsible for the system's graphical design and research, and global releases of software. Larson-Green had up to 1,400 people reporting to her.

Being an "interface expert" is already considered a black mark against her among the Microsofties on the Mini Microsoft blog, who feel she lacks proper engineering chops.

The fact she was behind the Ribbon and the Windows 8 Metro interface will not fill some folk with confidence: the Office Ribbon sowed confusion among those used to drop-down menus. Metro threatens to go the same way; the tiled interface and the death of the Start button presents a new challenge to users.

The road ahead for Larson-Green is forked: rather than just driving forward development of the OS on x86 hardware, she must oversee Intel-compatible and ARM codebases, plus the engineering of Microsoft's Surface tablets in addition to planning a new version of Windows sometime in the next three years.

Saviour, sinner, love him, hate him - nobody took a neutral stance on exiting Windows chief Sinofksy. Those who liked him, admired him for shaking up Microsoft's product delivery - in some ways, he transformed Microsoft back into an engineering organisation.

Remember when the only thing reliable about Microsoft Office was that a new version would ship late? It was Sinofsky who turned that around by overhauling the Office team. He turned around Windows, too, bringing in Windows 7 and 8 on budget and on time following the Windows Vista omnishambles.

For this, many liked and believed in Sinofsky, and saw a future Microsoft without Sinofsky as inconceivable. Those who resented Sinofsky, however, saw him as a destroyer of Windows by green-lighting the new Metro interface.

However, you square it, Larson-Green starts on the back foot: somebody who - at best - is no Steven Sinofsky "genius" and who - at worst - is somebody whose experience and design input are viewed with suspicion. She takes up her new role after the person responsible for delivering Windows 8 has gone suddenly and without much explanation. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.