MS Windows Chief: I Wasn’t Fired, I Quit, and I’ll Take on Microsoft

sinofsky.jpg

Steven Sinofsky — heir apparent to CEO Steve Ballmer — stepped down Monday night; here's the memo he sent to staff

Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's longtime Windows executive, shocked many in the tech community when he stepped down on Monday night.

In a memo to his staff, the 23-year veteran at the company said that, with the launch of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, it's time for him to "take a step back" and seek new opportunities, hinting that he plans to take on his old company.

"I have decided to leave the company to seek new opportunities that build on these experiences," Sinofsky wrote in the email, obtained by CNET. "My passion for building products is as strong as ever and I look forward focusing my energy and creativity along similar lines."

It was widely speculated on Monday that his departure was forced or politically motivated — he was considered the heir apparent to CEO Steve Ballmer — and it was no secret that he wanted the position.

But Sinofsky doused those theories, saying the decision to leave was a "personal and private choice."

"Some might notice a bit of chatter speculating about this decision or timing," he wrote. "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, opportunity, the company or its leadership."

Though he said he would help the company transition, his exit is "effective immediately."