I never worked in one of Sinofski's orgs, but I know quite a few people who did. I got the impression that a lot of old timers and under-performers disliked him. Most of the people that I really respected liked him. From my perspective, that's the best kind of "divisive figure" to have.
I did work in a Sinofsky org. I was an individual contributor and didn't have a flashy title. What I saw was a man that maintained a sizable gap between reputation/rhetoric and reality. The man who supposedly cleaned up Windows did so largely by taking credit for the work of COSD, which he didn't run. For all he would amusedly repeat the phrase "don't ship the org chart", we pretty much ... shipped the org chart. During the big re-org he seemed very precise about getting a fixed number of reports on each team and having a constant tree height in all parts of the org chart, but during the (overly long) planning phase and during development he never seems to have asked the right questions of the folks doing the Modern UI or WinRT, such as "dude, what the fuck are you building?", or "does this shit make sense?" He empowered what is in the end a very dopey PM organization. He and his people would also veto stuff if it depended on non-Sinofsky divisions. He was also a staunch advocate of not doing things right the first time, and letting it become someone else's problem in a future release.
I also recall he wrote in a blog post that it should be expected that people in their early 20s work unreasonably long hours and have no social life, and that expectation was clear if you looked at the rank and file of many important teams: lots of kids right out of college doing the work that you'd expect someone more experienced to have some role in, or at least mentor; I saw a fair number of regressions and crappy features result from this approach.
Years ago some commenter on the "Mini Microsoft" blog called him "The George W. Bush of Microsoft". I tend to agree.
"The only thing I would say is that anyone who tells you how cool it is to pull all-nighters on commercial software or anyone who says "I live at the office" and means it, is really someone I would not want checking code into my project. To be blunt, there is no way you can do quality work if you do not give your brain a break. Since the 1940's people have been studying the quality of work people are capable of without the proper sleep, change in environment, and exercise. There are reasons why even back during Apollo moon missions they forced the astronauts to sleep and not run on adrenaline. So working at Microsoft does not push the limits like this--it is not good for you, not good for business, and not good for the customers paying you for your software. If a company is driving you to work crazy hours like this, either because you want to or they want you to, it is just uncool."
It's been some years since I read it so perhaps my memory is hazy. This is the part I found most objectionable:
> In other words, no matter how many hours you are officially supposed to work when you are new you will put in a lot more to get those projects done. That is ok. No, that is expected because you are going through the learning phase. Your learning is not happening on a practice field but is happing in the big show. So the extra hours and effort are worth it to you and the team.
> Microsoft will feel a lot like college in terms of the hours you put in and the environment you work in. It will be fun. It will mean late nights. It will mean "hanging out". All of those same things. That was my experience and when I look around I see the same thing happening now.
Even though your excerpt makes what I would call a more correct point, I still think the above is uncool. Reading it several years ago put me off severely and coming back to it I still think he was wrong to put it that way, even if he partially redeems himself later. I read it as "it's OK and good for low-paid college grads to overwork themselves, but later you won't want to do that."
My understanding is that Sinofsky was just purging many partner-level folks. I'd be curious if that created a chorus of dissatisfaction, but I'd never heard of anything that would have caused his ouster.
That was my understanding as well. There are an absurd number of incompetent partner-level folks. It seemed that MAXIMIZE(TIME + BROWN_NOSING - CAREER_LIMITING_GAFFES) was an extremely successful strategy for getting promoted.