Steven Sinofsky refused to build tablet support for Windows 7, frustrating Ballmer

Steven Sinofsky refused to build tablet support for Windows 7, frustrating Ballmer

According to a report in ExtremeTech, internal tension leading to the exit of Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft was long in its building.

No story involving this many actors, products, and decades, is simple. However, one specific instance that is listed in the ExtremeTech post is key in the eyes of TNW:

Ballmer had been frustrated by Sinofsky before. Microsoft partners apparently had a reference design for tablet hardware ready in time for Windows 7. Sources tell us that Sinofsky refused to add support for it in Windows 7.

Windows 7 in a touch environment is not a positive experience. TNW knows this through hands-on testing. The operating system is designed for a mouse and keyboard environment, period. Using it with other methods of input can, in rare cases, be functional, but that minor wiggle does nothing to undermine the fact that Windows 7 is simply not built to accept non-traditional input.

What Microsoft calls ‘natural-user-interface’ is not a Windows 7 experience, in other words.

That OEMs had a tablet on file for use in Windows 7 isn’t that surprising; after all, Samsung and other OEMs in fact built tablets that ran Windows 7. They were, if I may, inauspicious.

The Sinofsky Factor

What support could Sinofsky have built into Windows 7, likely under painful time constraints, that would have taken a pure Windows experience, and fused it comfortably into the tablet world? Well, he could have built Windows 8, and he did, but after.

That Ballmer was irked that Sinofsky didn’t, apparently, ‘make it work on tablets,’ shows why in my view Sinofsky was the key player for Microsoft’s future, even as the company is now in his past. Sinofksy was willing to irk his boss again and again. The result was the salvation of the Windows brand in Windows 7, and some of the best productivity software the world has ever seen.

Nothing big, of course.

And then he drove the company into the present, shouldering the responsibility for reinventing soul of Windows and transforming Microsoft into its own best OEM partner. Following, he dropped the mic and walked out.

Name the crazed, zealous, perfectionist, secretive, fief-building asshole at Microsoft not named Sinofsky who could have pulled off the Surface hardware project and Windows 8 in parallel  If you haven’t walked Studio B – the Super Secret Surface Building – you don’t understand how key culture was to the project.

We’ll just have to see what comes next. But if there is any reason, however small, to fret about Apple’s product future, the same worries apply to Microsoft.

Top Image Credit: BUILDWindows

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