The man who led the development of Windows 8 and the introduction of Microsoft's Surface tablet computer left the company abruptly Monday after 23 years of service, Microsoft said in a statement.
The company said that Steve Sinofsky's departure was a mutual decision between him and chief executive Steve Ballmer.
It still stunned the tech world because of Sinofsky's role in developing the key new operating system and devices that are designed to help Microsoft compete with the likes of Apple Inc and Google Inc.
Sinofsky, a former technical assistant to Bill Gates, had even widely been tipped as a possible successor to Ballmer.
Microsoft said that Julie Larson-Green would now lead Windows engineering while chief financial officer Tami Reller would assume responsibility for the business activities of Windows.
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