back to article Win 8 man Sinofsky's 'retirement' deal: $14m shares, oath of silence

Windows 8 architect Steven Sinofsky has officially “retired” from Microsoft having inked a deal in which he cops a share payout worth $14m in exchange for not joining the competition. The agreement comes six months after he unexpectedly left the company. The deal was revealed as Microsoft closed its fiscal year. The company …


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  1. knarf

    Screwup $14m

    Wish I could get $14 for screwing up a product. In his defense he likely deserves every cent.

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Screwup $14m

      Technically he did not screw anything, dumbing windows down is just another stepping stone to move everything to the cloud, where the old dream can be made true:

      Turn Microsoft into a telco-like entity that can bill for each transaction.

      1. tony2heads


        WIth the telletubby interface

        1. John 62

          Re: telco-like

          Get with the times. The tellytubby interface was Luna, which debuted on Windows XP in 2001 and unless I'm mistaken, Sinofsky was working on the Office team then.

          Interestingly, the Classic theme got better with each Windows release. I thought Windows 98's was hot until 2000 came along. I thought that was cool until XP came along and although it lost the up button on Windows Explorer on Vista's release, 7's Classic theme is excellent. I have yet to try Windows 8, but the Edge UI looks pretty good from screenshots and may make up for the awfulness of the years of Luna and Aero Glass nonsense.

    2. promytius
      Thumb Down

      Re: Screwup $14m

      nothing, not one thing is worth 14 mil. nothing. period. It really is a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

  2. Test Man

    There has to be something really shady to have happened to have Sinofsky get pushed out and subsequently put under a ton of NDAs in return for having his stock bought up. Shady as in operational reasons. Obviously there's been massive speculation regarding Windows 8's direction and (lack of?) sales which may have done it but that can't be all.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      I don't think conspiracy is needed when incompetence will do.

      Sinofsky may have had his eye on Ballmer's (broken) chair. The Big Sweat can't afford to have competition, so he was given a wad of cash and told to STFU, or else lawyers.

      Or not. But S was clearly ambitious. So as plot lines go, it's not unbelievable.

      It would fun to image a conspiracy where Ballmer and the Board are deliberately driving MS into the ground, for who knows what reason. (So they can be bought by Nokia, and everyone gets an excuse to move to Finland?)

      But it's more likely that everyone involved has been Peter Principled to an appropriate level of inability, and there's no one with clue left on the bridge.

      1. Doug 3

        purposefully ruining Microsoft would not be a very good conspiracy theory as it goes against all rational and irrational thinking of how the CEO and the BOD would operate and chase profits. An alternate theory might be that Ballmer thinks he's channeling Steve Jobs, has the BOD believing it too so therefore he's taking over leadership of all product divisions. Or maybe just forcing every product division head to give himself the final say on product design and direction. The result is the same though.

        He's clearly delusional as he's pushed out anyone who even looks like they might want him replaced and under his watch the only successful product has been the MS Kinect. But even the MS Kinect was only a success became an open source maker( Limor "Ladyada" Fried) funded an open source driver for it and it became a hit in the hacker community. Remember when Microsoft threatened legal action after the driver was announced and published?

      2. Tom 13

        Re: there's no one with clue left on the bridge.

        In this instance it might be fair to ask if there was ever anyone on the bridge with a clue.

        MS has always seemed to me to be more like Forest Gump and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

    2. Lorin Thwaits

      Of course just speculation here, but I think Ballmer might have forced Sinofsky to make Windows 8 a tablet-only environment with heavy focus on an AppStore. With Windows 7 Sinofsky had been left to his own devices, and there was success. It doesn't seem plausible that he would jump off the deep end and create such a freakish environment for the next iteration of the product.

      I'm starting to think that Ballmer had forced all of this on him, and he pulled a Pontas Pilate and washed his hands of the whole thing after the project was done. $14M later he won't utter a peep about it.

      Who knows for sure though.

      God I wish Microsoft still had a usable interface. It could spell their demise.

  3. Richard Wharram

    I bet...

    I bet David Icke has a theory!

  4. jmk89

    Changed direction?

    By adding a single button?

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Changed direction?

      Don't forget the new colours and animated backgrounds!

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Changed direction?

      Of course they did. Why it's a whole new PR team with a cool new jingle!

  5. BigAndos

    I would like to personally volunteer my services to Microsoft . I will be happy to completely balls-up Windows 9, but I will only charge $12,000,000. I think this represents exceptional value for money. Some of my ideas include:

    - A new "button roulette" replacing the start button. Enjoy a 1 in 20 chance pressing start will format your hard disk, adding a little excitment to your work day.

    - Increase the alignment between the desktop and mobile sides of the OS by supporting a maximum monitor size of 10 inches

    - Make it so that every 10th keystroke has to be entered via touchscreen. Not using a "touch-enabled" device? Better get on board quick!

    1. Titus Technophobe
      Thumb Up

      and a cackling paper clip informing you of what has happened?

      1. BigAndos

        Only if it takes up 2GB of RAM while doing so!

    2. gkroog
      Thumb Up


      Heck, I'll do it for $10m...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I'll believe in a conspiracy...

    ...When it has been proven beyond doubt that the next major Windows release has undone itself (either entirely or partly) from the TIFKAM horror.

    Even so; it could be more than TIFKAM alone I think. Don't forget that with Windows 8 also came a new "display theme"; clearly visible in Office 2013 and Visual Studio 2012 (why they ever decided to let a developer platform follow the look & feel standard of the consumer product line is way beyond me).

    And although taste differs I can't say that I'm very thrilled about that new look and feel. Not at all; especially since it seems to consist of removing all colours and nuances and making the interface as dull and flat as possible.. Yech.

    1. dogged

      Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

      "TIFKAM horror?"

      Do you read back what you've written?

      Your problem appears to be that a configurable launcher is different from an old configurable launcher.

      The horror... the horror...

      "Get over yourself" icon required.

      1. Len Goddard

        Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

        If he doesn't like the horrible TIFKAM he is entitled to say so. Telling people who speak out against a change they dislike is unnecessary and arrogant.

        If you like TIFKAM you are entitled so say so. The OP here is equally entitled to describe it as a horror. I know who I would agree with

        1. dogged

          Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

          I don't love it but it's just a launcher. The start menu was also just a launcher. If either bothered me, I'd change them. It's pretty bloody easy to do so and very well-documented.

          If the aesthetic properties of a tool you work with are enough to shit on your opinion of its utility, you're a bad workman.

          You rarely if ever hear the phrase "ew, the new orange on this hammer is so yucky, what a horror. I'm going back to bashing nails in with my head", do you?

          Too many fucking divas in this industry. Newsflash, people. We are not artists. We are not visionaries. We are not genius savants. We are mechanics. I have been offered a new hammer. It may be ugly but it hammers straighter and it damps recoil better than the old hammer. It also hits just as hard while being considerably lighter to carry around. Does its ugliness concern me?

          No. I have no business being concerned and no right to be concerned. I am not Gok Wan, I am a fucking mechanic.

          1. dogged

            Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

            Aw, do the delicate wickle flowers not like the truth? Do they want to believe they are oh-so-special?

            You're not. Grow up.

          2. hplasm Silver badge

            Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

            " You rarely if ever hear the phrase "ew, the new orange on this hammer is so yucky, what a horror. I'm going back to bashing nails in with my head", do you?"

            You do when it turns out that the 'hammer' you thought you were buying turns out to be an orange on a stick.

            1. dogged

              Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

              You do when it turns out that the 'hammer' you thought you were buying turns out to be an orange on a stick.

              You don't. Builders don't tend to talk like that.

              In any case, nobody with an iota of professionalism could describe Windows 8 that way. It literally does every single thing that Windows 7 does, plus a whole lot more, plus it runs faster, uses less resources and offers improved tools and a lot more information about those tools.

              Seriously. If you pick Windows 7 over Windows 8 and you're an admin, you suck at your job and you should be fired. Only an idiot would refuse a better tool simply because it comes with a different colour scheme.

              1. Tom 35 Silver badge

                Better tool... Ha, good one.

                Something has happened


                error 1e79879326e884503947e804380543854037032e843984308530

                Yes a better tool...

                The last time I received this so useful messages was when Windows was trying to install an app update. Googling the random string on numbers results in links to so many different problems that I concluded that it really did mean "something happened".

                The actual problem was that automatic update had installed some stuff, but didn't tell me it needed to reboot. The app store could not install an update until I rebooted windows, but could not tell me that.

                I've had Windows 7 do something like that too, but the error message was something like "Windows needs to finish installing updates, please restart. (not that Windows 7 error messages are always that helpful, but they try).

                Windows 8 is both ugly and dumb. Both by design.

                1. dogged


                  I take you're an amateur, then?

                  Because, you know, Event Viewer. It exists for a reason....

                  1. Tom 35 Silver badge

                    Re: @Tom35

                    Yes event viewer is just as dumb.

                    Installation failure: Windows failed to install the following update with error 0x8924200D: Microsft.LyncMX

                    Click online help, get: We're sorry. There is no additional information...

                    So much better then "something happened".

                    So you are expecting every Win8 user to know how to use event viewer now? This is supposed to compete with Android and iOS?

                    By the way it's a royal pain in the arse to use on my surface without plugging in a mouse, and it opens online help in metro-IE not desktop IE.

              2. MysteryGuy

                Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                > In any case, nobody with an iota of professionalism could describe Windows 8 that way.

                > It literally does every single thing that Windows 7 does, plus a whole lot more, ...

                Oh please. I've worked over 30 years as a professional in the IT industry and I think Windows 8 sucks rocks for any serious work on the desktop.

                The intent is to deprecate the 'old desktop', so it's only there while you switch to an all TIFKAM (walled garden) experience.

                I find the low-res, blocky, flat, one and a half Window max. experience not only aesthetically challenged, but also actively impeding my productivity.

                It's not that I need to learn a new way of doing things, it's that I fond the new way horrific and a step backward in productivity.

                You might like it, but I actively hate it...

                1. dogged

                  Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                  You've worked in IT for over 30 years and you can't figure out how to click the Desktop tile or press the Windows key?


                  1. MysteryGuy

                    Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                    > You've worked in IT for over 30 years and you can't figure out how to click the Desktop

                    > tile or press the Windows key?

                    Nope. I just find the whole TIFKAM interface unnecessary and inferior compared to the old desktop way for what I want to do.

                    MS wants you to abandon the desktop, and use only TIFKAM. Not for me thanks.

                    And, if TIFKAM is so great, why don't they just let people decide for themselves? If it's so wonderful people should flock to it based on it's own merits.

                    There should be no need to force people to use it...

                    1. dogged

                      Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...


                      Seriously, why are you acting as if there is no desktop? Because there is. All this "I hate TIFKAM" bullshit is just a distraction, regardless of what twisted reasoning you give it, because the desktop is still there and it has been improved.

                      I see the tiles once per day on boot. Then, because my desktop tile is first in the stack I press the RETURN key and all I get is Desktop.

                      Tell me, what do you do in your 30 years of IT? Project Management? Cleaning the monitors? Because this is not rocket science. Such visceral hatred for one extra tap on a key is just fucked up.

                      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                        Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy... @dogged

                        I can see that you have strong feelings about this, but why? Your ire is somewhat out of proportion to the perceived advantages of the new interface(s). Why the one-man crusade for something that you perceive as marginally better?

                        Seriously, there are many tools that are chosen on aesthetics - have you never chosen a car because some functional part of it looks better in some way (nicer dashboard or better seat covering - the job still done the same, but looks or feels better) for the same price? If you claim not, then you probably aren't being truthful with yourself or us.

                        1. dogged

                          @Intractable Potsherd

                          I have to be honest IP, old feller.

                          It's not about Windows 8 which I don't love and which doesn't magically make everything better. It makes a very few minor things better, true, but not enough to get worked up about.

                          What's got me riled up is the massed howling crusade against it when the reasoning is so fucking trivial.

                          If it made major workflow alterations, sure. Wail, scream and go on and on about how bad it is. But a launcher that you rarely if ever see? That's it? That's your "horror"? That's "the abomination that is TIFKAM"?

                          Once we get that petty about a tool for basic usage which is not a huge improvement but is actually an improvement in some regards, well.. somebody needs to step up and point out that acting like a screaming drag-queen over a missing sequin does not do this industry any favours at all.

                          Since nobody else has the balls to tell the emperor that he's Danny la Rue, I have to do it.

                          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                            Re: @Intractable Potsherd

                            Thanks, dogged, for the reply. It is interesting to follow the comments about Win8. I have no personal axe to grind (or hammer to ... whatever one does with hammers): Win8 won't be going on any machine of mine in the near (or far) future - I think it is a step in the wrong direction to make a "one size fits all" OS that needs fiddling (even if it is one extra click, which really it isn't) to make it work in the way I want. The default should be old>new, not the other way around.

                            Clearly, there are a lot of people that don't think this is trivial, though.

                      2. Anonymous Coward
                        Thumb Down

                        Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                        I realise it's very "in" to hate windows 8, but with the new updated blue,8.1, whatever I've got on a VM it boots directly into desktop mode with one setting change.

                        That aside, if you think anyone who hasn't jumped directly onto windows 8 is an idiot then I'd suggest a re-think of your position.

                        Sure, for _what_you_do it's great, but I couldn't move half of my clients (SMEs) onto windows 7 without a tonne of ballache (and therefore cost the them) never mind windows 8.

                        Everyone needs to take a step back and realise that the right tool for them isn't the right tool for everyone else, and never mind start flinging about ad-hom attacks purely on that basis.

                      3. MysteryGuy

                        Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                        > Seriously, why are you acting as if there is no desktop?

                        It's clear that the MS plan was (probably still is) to get rid of the desktop, and the future is supposed to be all TIFKAM all the time. The desktop was left as a 'courtesy' while everyone moved to TIFKAM (in their plan). TIFKAM is the main point of Windows 8, isn't it?

                        Even with 8.1 (after setting direct boot) you still don't have the real start-menu.

                        For me, all I want is the Desktop. It sounds like you're saying that with enough work I can get somewhat close to that experience once again with Windows 8.1.

                        Why should I pay money (and expend the effort) so that I can maybe get close to what I already have (and want) with Windows 7? Even then, how long until they deprecate the Desktop away?

                        Sorry, but for me to buy into Windows 8 I would want it to be enough 'better' to justify the pain and expense. When I went from XP to Windows 7 I said 'Yes, this is worth it. It's an improvement'. I had the exact opposite reaction to Windows 8. I would be paying to go backwards.

                        To me, no amount of 'under the hood' tweaking is worth the pain of 'desktop TIFKAM' and where MS wants to lead us with it.

                        1. gkroog
                          Thumb Up


                          You have made a good point here.

                          I have yet to speak in person to anyone who likes Windows 8.

                          Windows 8, besides maybe the Xbox One, is a shining example of how Microsoft just couldn't care less about listening to their users to find out what they want. Then we witness breathtaking back-pedalling by MS while claiming they were listening all along. Yeah, sure.

                          They got an eyeful of the way mobile is going with smartphones and tables, and decided to just try and drag us all that way with TIKFAM.

                          Regarding the UI, Apple doesn't make these sweeping changes to their UI, nor have they tried to shove everyone onto a mobile UI. There's Mac OS, and iOS. Separate, but seamless.

                          MS could have designed Windows 8 and the mobile flavours this way. Build a new OS, make it better "under the hood", but keep the nicer Aero interface and just introduce some real improvements. Doesn't that sound better?

              3. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

                "You do when it turns out that the 'hammer' you thought you were buying turns out to be an orange on a stick."

                "You don't. Builders don't tend to talk like that."

                They would say "It's crap. Gimme another." But then you would deride them anyway.

              4. gkroog


                We chose Windows 7 over Windows 8 because it crashed a whole lot...we even had to reinstall a few machines after trying to install anti-virus...just sayin'

          3. sabroni Silver badge
            Thumb Up


            Good rant! I pretty much agree, but at the same time I should point out that people (not engineers, but end users) find beautiful things easier to work with. Wish I could find a link to the article I read about this, basically there was a study where identical functionality was wrapped in an ugly gui and a beautiful gui and users found the attractive one much easier to use and were keener to use it again. They were also less likely to be put off when they couldn't find what they wanted straight away.

            So while I agree that engineers just need utility I understand when an ugly interface puts them off...

            1. dogged


              What's depressing is that ALL of this Windows8 hate comes from the industry.

              End users look at you as if you're mad when you talk about a learning curve between 7 and 8. As far as they universally seem to be concerned, 8 is easier. Press the big buttons. It's computing for the McDonalds employee level and they like it that way.

            2. gkroog

              Re: @sabroni

              Heck, KDE on Linux looks better than Windows 8...Windows 8 first struck me as being reminiscent of Vista...

              1. Tom 13

                Re: Windows 8 first struck me as being reminiscent of Vista...

                I tend to think of it as 98ME with an AOL 3.0 interface.

          4. Tom 13

            Re: the new orange on this hammer is so yucky, what a horror.

            Of course not.

            There are few barriers to entry in the hammer market, so the ones with proper wooden or black handles are always plentiful and the fools who make yucky orange handled hammers quickly go out of business without anyone ever much noticing they were in it in the first place.

            The same is not true of the desktop market.

          5. Pookietoo

            Re: I am a fucking mechanic

            So how would you like it if someone came into your workshop, removed the size markings from all the sockets and spanners, and stuck them along a wall out of reach of the bench?

            1. dogged


              Please explain how your question is relevant?

        2. Tom 13

          @Len Goddard

          I know with whom I would agree. </pedant>

          Me too.

    2. Doug 3

      Re: I'll believe in a conspiracy...

      let me guess! Developers, developers, developers! They are forcing their developers to eat Ballmers design choices because they are 100% under the control of Microsoft and Microsoft must get mobile apps built and built as fast as possible. Forcing developers to eat the dogfood of that plan means they become jaded to the good/bad of that design and so are made to believe they are just clicks away from a Windows Phone app.

      Seriously, it's all about Microsoft forcing their needs on those they believe they control.

  7. kain preacher Silver badge

    Sounds like some one knows were the bodies are berried and was paid to keep quiet.


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