Sinofsky Out: Were We Right About Windows 8 Usability?

Yes, Steven Sinofsky will no longer be at Microsoft. Can’t say that I’m surprised, either. I don’t know the guy, and I would never wish anything but the best for him.

Still, my long-standing belief that Windows 8’s UX is a disaster area remains unchanged and, if anything, Sinofsky’s sudden departure is vindication.

I’m certain there are other factors at play, but I know I’m not the only one who looks at Windows 8’s schizophrenia and wonders just what he was thinking.

Let me put it to you another way: If he was right about the Windows 8 (and RT) strategies, do you really think he’d be out so soon?

23 thoughts on “Sinofsky Out: Were We Right About Windows 8 Usability?”

  1. I honestly do not think that he had that much to do with the new Windows UI overhaul. He may have been involved but I doubt that his removal from the company has anything to do with Windows 8 reception.

      1. I mean I guess that is possible. He certainly had influence but I don’t see how his leadership could drag the entire Windows division downward. You know? At some point you would think he would have gotten a lot of questioning or cross-reviewing instead of waiting until it was done then booting him or something.

  2. Is 8 another Vista repeat? Sure it might be more stable, however I know quite a few people who are trying very hard to get a new laptop without Win 8. If that’s the feeling in the market out there, MS have a problem.

    No doubt some very heavy discussions were had at Redmond. Possibly have gone too far too early with Windows 8. Sure there are more touch devices coming onto the market, but touch isn’t MS’ bread and butter yet.

    1. On a new machine with a touch screen, Modern is quite nice – until you’re forced to fiddle with the classic desktop (and, with a finger, that’s a less-than-elegant experience).
      Windows RT should’ve been Modern-only, Windows 8 should have remained the “classic” experience, and Windows Phone should have grown to support tablet systems much like the iPhone OS evolved to manage iPads.

      1. Totally agree Chris. Even if my opinion is based on limited experience, I, as an experienced tech user was slightly intimidated by it.

        Love your work, all the way in Melbourne Australia.

      2. And Windows RT is Modern-only. None of the desktop applications can run on the desktop on Windows RT. Modern applications will run on both Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT no problems at all. I use Windows 8 on a desktop and I barely go into the Modern apps but I use the Modern start screen as well.. as a full screen start menu – and it works way better than old school start menu. You could also right click the start corner (lower left corner) and have all the useful tools ready for you to click on to run. I am much more productive on Windows 8 than Windows 7 as I have it both on my home and work computers.

          1. I’ll have to guess it’s because of Office suite and having to be productive in a multi windows environment along with Internet Explorer using a keyboard/mouse. Otherwise it’s a good question…

      3. I have Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro. While it looks nice, it is not intuitive at all. Very frustrating, and I wanted to like it. Maybe I’ll go back to Win7, which I like.

  3. Unfortunately, the problems go beyond the user interface now called the “Microsoft Store Apps” or what ever. The usability confusion having two interfaces is trouble but having two completely different processor compatibility platforms adds a major level of confusion. I would have loved to have been in the meeting where the new plans for Windows 8 were suggested.

    I’m still not sure how to explain this to users and how much I want to promote Windows 8. There are some new things I really like and I’m happy to use but the new “Windows” ecosystem as a whole is a giant cluster….

  4. Per some releases he was also in charge of some of the Windows 8 hardware development, such as the Surface RT tablet whose sales are nowhere near where they’d hope them to be.

  5. Yes, Sinofsky was fired just a couple of weeks after release of Windows 8, when sales have actually been pretty decent. That makes a lot of sense. And it’s not like things will change, one of the people who’s been promoted has been heavily involved in developing the live tiles. This is probably more to do with rumoured feuding between execs, or him just deciding to move on now that they’ve got this major release out the door. He’s probably been planning to leave for months, just he wouldn’t leave before the job was done.

    1. On one side I heard it’s because of his ego and that he picked a lot of fights with people. On the other side I heard it’s because he wanted to be the CEO and he (apparently) told Ballmer that if he didn’t get the role he’d leave. I’m not too sure what to believe but I’ve got mixed reactions about his departure. As long as Microsoft works hard at keeping the experience up & up then I’m fine with that.

  6. I think his departure is symptomatic of Microsoft… they want to move forward but whilst keeping the old stuff running… no, Windows 8 RT should be Modern UI running on ARM and no classic desktop.. Office should have been Office RT (Touch) and then Windows 8 should have been x64 with Office Full (Non Touch).

    Someone comes in who genuinelly wants to shift the paradigm and they have too big of an installed base with too many permiatations and no balls to drastically change things….

    Apple and Google don’t have these problems they are more agile.

    1. Agreed. On the RT I don’t see any reason why the Desktop is there. On the Pro, well that’s a different story. Since you can run legacy apps on the Pro there’s a valid reason to have the Desktop there as an option for users.

  7. I don’t think you were right no. Unless someone at a high level within Microsoft tells us why, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the full story of Steven Sinofsky’s departure.

    Leaving just after a project is completed makes sense, and switching teams or leaving the company entirely just after a product ships has some precedent within Microsoft. Jim Allchin, for example, was president of Microsoft Platform Products & Services, the (now defunct) division that was responsible for Windows client and server development. He left at the end of 2006, just after Windows Vista was completed. Similarly, Brad Silverberg, who led Windows 95’s development, left that division shortly after the operating system shipped.

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