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Ballmer comes not to praise Sinofsky but to bury him

Perhaps he was Caesar, not Caligula?

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's staff memo following Steven Sinofsky's departure isn't exactly awash with praise for a man once tipped for the software giant's throne.

The world of Microsoft was turned upside down by Windows 8 chief Sinofsky's sudden exit just three weeks after the launch of the new operating system. Rather than overseeing a period of transition to a new boss, Sinofsky departed for "personal and private" reasons after 23 years at the corporation.

"I have always promised myself when the right time came for me to change course, I would be brief, unlike one of my infamous short blog posts, and strive to be less memorable than the products and teams with which I have been proudly and humbly associated," Sinofsky said in a letter to Microsoft workers. "The brevity of this announcement is simply a feature."

Ballmer's followup memo to staff is equally to the point. The departing Windows president is mentioned in just one tepid paragraph before Ballmer swiftly moves on to Sinofsky's replacements, Julie Larson-Green and Tami Reller.

"As we enter this new era, and with the successful launch of Windows 8 and Surface behind us, Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company," Ballmer banged out on his keyboard to employees.

"Steven joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software development engineer and has contributed to the company in many ways from his work as a technical advisor to Bill Gates, to leading the evolution of the Microsoft Office business, to his direction and successful leadership of Windows and Windows Live as well as Surface. I am grateful for the work that Steven has delivered in his time at our company."

Pundits have speculated that Sinofsky's vanishing act wasn't entirely his idea nor on very amicable terms, but the ex-Microsoftie insists he quit because he wanted to.

"Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing. I can assure you that none could be true as this was a personal and private choice that in no way reflects any speculation or theories one might read about me, new opportunities, the company or its leadership," Sinofsky wrote.

"After more than 23 years working on a wide range of Microsoft products, I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences. My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines."

You can read Ballmer's letter here and Sinofsky's missive here after the documents were passed to Cnet. ®

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