Microsoft trusts in its top women honchos; Will it succeed?

Microsoft Corp. has replaced Windows Live Project President Steven Sinofsky with Julie Larson-Green, who will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Another woman honcho Tami Reller retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows. Both executives will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” Ballmer said. “The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft. We’ve built an incredible foundation with new releases of Microsoft Office, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Server 2012 and ‘Halo 4,’ and great integration of services such as Bing, Skype and Xbox across all our products. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings,” in an apparent reference to Sinofsky’s reluctance to cooperate or coordinate with other divisions like telecom.

Accepting the directive, Sinofsky believes her professionalism would rescue the company that has monopolised virtually the entire PC software market for nearly two decades. Beset with its arch rival Apple taking a shot at the future, Microsoft is groping for a venue to succeed, come whoever it may be.

The incumbent Larson-Green has, of course, worked on products like the user experiences for early versions of Internet Explorer, and helped drive the thinking behind the refresh of the user experience for Microsoft Office. For Windows 7 and Windows 8, she was responsible for program management, user interface design and research, as well as development of all international releases.

With a master’s degree in software engineering from Seattle University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Washington University, she has managed climb to the current position rather easily. In her new role she will be responsible for all future Windows product development in addition to future hardware opportunities.

“Leading Windows engineering is an incredible challenge and opportunity, and as I looked at the technical and business skills required to continue our Windows trajectory — great communication skills, a proven ability to work across product groups, strong design, deep technical expertise, and a history of anticipating and meeting customer needs — it was clear to me that Julie is the best possible person for this job, and I’m excited to have her in this role,” says Ballmer but so was the case with all those who succeeded Bill Gates and Bllmer in the last decade.

Tami Reller, who had joined Windows in 2007 from the Microsoft Dynamics Division where she held a number of leadership positions, began her career in technology at Great Plains Software in 1984 while still in college, and was the company’s chief financial officer at the time the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2001.

Reller has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Minnesota State University Moorhead and an MBA from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. In her expanded role she will assume the lead in driving business and marketing strategy for Windows devices, including Surface and partner devices, in addition to her current marketing and finance responsibilities.

Critics were not surprised by the exit of Microsoft’s Sinofsky? “You shouldn’t be,” writes Jay Greene in Cnet. “Sinofsky battled with executives, alienated workers in groups outside his Windows empire, and created a toxic environment, according to sources. His departure shouldn’t surprise anyone,” he explains in his blog on Cnet.

The company hopes to turn around its flagging fortunes with the elevation of the two women to the top role but soon it will realise whether Windows 8 will succeed and pave the way for them or not. It is more of luck than capabilities now for Microsoft to succeed in its path to profit.

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