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Windows Head Sinofsky Out at Microsoft: What's It All Mean?

Tickers in this article: MSFT AAPL
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's official.

As first reported by All Things D, Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows and Windows Live President Steve Sinofsky is out, effective immediately.

The just-transmitted Microsoft press release suggests an amicable parting of the ways.

CEO Steve Ballmer turns on the spin, thanking Sinofsky for his contributions and observing, "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 the same PR, Sinofsky turns on the charm: "It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft. I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company."

Microsoft veteran Julie Larson-Green takes over Windows software and hardware engineering while Tami Reller keeps CFO and CMO titles, but adds responsibility for "the business of Windows."

Two theories as to why Ballmer made this move.

One, Sinofsky wasn't happy with the recent Windows 8 launch, handled largely, at least in public, by Ballmer.

Two, it was a power play. Sinofsky is a rising star in the organization -- some have said he should be CEO immediately or down the road -- and Ballmer wanted him out. Maybe Ballmer pulled a Tim Cook power play.

All Things D's Ina Fried reports that "some" have "likened" the move "to the recent ouster at Apple (AAPL) of iOS head Scott Forstall."

You may recall an article I wrote on November 1 -- Microsoft CEO Ballmer: Fire Yourself and Hire Scott Forstall -- where I riffed:

Take action by sacrificing Steve Sinofsky if you have to, getting on the phone, swallowing your pride, offering Scott Forstall whatever he wants to become CEO. Then step into the background as vice chairman or something.

That's likely a long shot. Ballmer probably doesn't want to trade one threat for another. However, don't be shocked if Microsoft courts Forstall in some capacity (e.g. "consultant") or if Apple iMessages Sinofsky about his availability.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.