Microsoft's Sinofsky, by the numbers

Microsoft's Sinofsky, by the numbers

How many times he used 'fast and fluid'; at Windows 8's intro, how much his division may have cost the company, and more

Steven Sinofsky, once the king of Windows, is out.

But whether he left of his own volition, as he contended, or was forced out because of an abrasive management style or the so-far-underwhelming reaction to Windows 8, he stamped his name on some of the biggest successes in the company's history. He was also ultimately responsible for what may be one of the all-time costliest "technical errors" in technology history.

We've covered them all, whether we highlighted Sinofsky or not, because if Microsoft is best known for Windows, for the past six years, Sinofsky has been best known as the man behind Windows.

Even the numbers tell a story.

3%: How much the Windows division's revenue declined in Microsoft's fiscal year 2012 compared to the year before.

The downturn, caused by falling sales of PCs -- Microsoft makes the bulk of its Windows revenue by selling licenses to computer makers -- was cited by the board when it gave Sinofsky a bonus of just 60% of the maximum.

Zero: The number of Start buttons or menus included in the "classic" user interface (UI) of Windows 8.

The omission has elicited howls from some users, and created a cottage industry of utilities -- some free, such as Classic Shell, some for a fee, like Start8 -- that restore, in one form or another, the iconic Start button and menu to Windows 8.

One: The number of Surface tablets Sinofsky oversaw that has yet to ship.

Dubbed the "Surface Pro," the device is slated for a late January launch. Unlike the Surface RT, the Pro will be powered by Windows 8.

True to Sinofsky's preference for revealing less, not more, information to customers, OEM partners and competitors, Microsoft has not disclosed an exact launch date, the available configurations, or what it will charge for the tablet.

Two: The number of photos Sinofsky tweeted last month of skateboarding on a Surface RT, apparently to tout the tablet's Gorilla Glass 2-composed display.

But analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft, who has been critical of the number of quality apps for the Surface RT, had a different explanation for the skateboard stunt.

"He did that because he couldn't show it doing anything," Cherry quipped Wednesday.

Three: The number of Windows client editions that Sinofsky shepherded through development: Windows 7 (released October 2009), Windows 8 (October 2012) and Windows RT (October 2012).

Unlike the debacle that was 2007's Windows Vista -- which was years late and generally panned by reviewers, analysts, customers and even some high-level Microsoft executives -- Sinofsky's releases came out on time, and in the case of Windows 7, were wildly successful.

Sinofsky assumed command of Windows development in March 2006, about five months before Vista was delivered to enterprises.

Four: The number of Office editions Sinofsky oversaw as the head of development for Microsoft's suite.

Sinofsky herded Office 2000 (shipped June 1999), Office XP (March 2001), Office 2003 (October 2003) and Office 2007 (January 2007) through their development paces.

Six: The number of times Sinofsky used the phrase "fast and fluid," or a minor variation, to describe Windows 8 during a presentation on Sept. 13, 2011, at Microsoft's BUILD conference when he introduced the new operating system.

The company has applied that term incessantly to Windows 8 and Windows RT, using it to describe everything from IE10's performance to how the "Windows 8 Store," formerly "Metro," UI operates.

About the only thing Microsoft didn't do was commandeer the website, which was registered by someone in the U.K. just days after last year's BUILD conference.

10: The version of the final Internet Explorer Sinofsky was responsible for completing. IE10 for Windows 8 and Windows RT debuted last month when those two operating systems launched. A preview for Windows 7 shipped Tuesday.

The other browsers released under Sinofsky's watch, 2009's IE8 and 2011's IE9, collectively accounted for 44.6% of all browsers used worldwide in October. (Although IE7 shipped after Sinofsky assumed control of Windows, as with Vista, he apparently had little to do it, coming too late to the development party.)

21.97: The price, on, of the Kindle edition of One Strategy: Organization, Planning, and Decision Making, the 2009 book Sinofsky co-authored with Marco Iansit of Harvard Business School. The book recounts Sinofsky's takeover of the Windows group after the Vista disaster, and uses the development of Windows 7 to impart business lessons.

23: The number of years Sinofsky was employed by Microsoft. He started working at the company in July 1989, three years after the company went public, as a software design engineer, according to his corporate bio, which remains on the Microsoft site, as does his photo on the company's senior leadership page.

8,578: The number of words in Sinofsky's longest entry on the Building Windows 8 blog, a Feb. 9, 2012, epistle entitled "Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture," that described what was then called "Windows on ARM" (WOA) but which was later renamed "Windows RT."

Sinofsky even poked fun at his reputation for verbosity in his final memo to Microsoft employees. "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," he wrote Monday.

1,530,000: The amount of money, in cash, that Sinofsky was awarded in September that represented 20% of his fiscal 2012 bonus. The remaining 80% was delivered as stock that was to vest over a four-year period if he remained employed by Microsoft.

17,379,303: The dollar value of Sinofsky's holdings of Microsoft stock at Wednesday's closing price of $26.84. According to an early October proxy statement, Sinofsky had 647,515 shares as of mid-September 2012.

670 million: The number of personal computers Microsoft claims are running Windows 7, easily Sinofsky's greatest success during his two-decades-plus time at Microsoft.

Billions: The potential liability Microsoft faces in fines determined by European Union antitrust regulators for neglecting to serve millions of users with a mandated browser ballot screen.

The blunder began in February 2011 when Sinofsky's division shipped Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and ran into early July, when Microsoft corrected the oversight. The company called it a "technical error," and apologized.

It's unlikely that the final fine will come close to the maximum possible -- which has been estimated between $7.3 billion and $8.9 billion -- but the EU's head regulator, Joaquin Almunia, has talked tough. "If companies enter into commitments, they must do what they have committed to do or face the consequences," Almunia said during an October news conference to announce that his agency had filed formal charges against Microsoft.

The browser ballot screw-up was another factor the Microsoft board cited when it chopped Sinofsky's 2012 bonus earlier this year.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is

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