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Microsoft’s Steven Guggenheimer: Steven Sinofsky Is A “Phenomenal Visionary” – Will Be Missed At Microsoft

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At LeWeb Paris this morning, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for its Developer & Platform Evangelism Group, just took the stage to discuss the state of the Windows 8 developer ecosystem and Microsoft in general with Techonomy Media‘s Founder & CEO David Kirkpatrick. Guggenheimer has now spent more than 18 years at Microsoft and was the head of the company’s OEM Division before taking on this new role earlier this year.

Steven Sinofsky’s Exit From Microsoft

Kirkpatrick, of course, also used this opportunity to ask about Steven Sinofsky’s unexpected exit from Microsoft just days after the launch of Windows 8. According to Guggenheimer, Sinofsky is a “phenomenal visionary” and “phenomenal shipper.” While Kirkpatrick insinuated that Sinofsky was pushed out, Guggenheimer obviously wouldn’t say so and just reiterated Microsoft’s company line that he “decided to leave.” “We’ll miss Steven,” he said, but he also argued that Microsoft has a very deep bench of executive talent.

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The Windows Developer And Hardware Ecosystem

Starting off the discussion, Kirkpatrick noted how Microsoft is still unsurpassed in the enterprise and how its successes like Xbox and Kinect reflect on the company’s strengths. At the same time, though, many people remain very skeptical about the company’s future – especially in the startup and developer community. Asked about why we should care about Microsoft and Windows 8, Guggenheimer noted that the company’s scale, including the millions of PCs that are expected to sell next year, make it an interested target for developers. He also stressed how the Windows store charges developers less than most other stores (especially for developers with sales over $25,000) and offers them access to a broader hardware ecosystem and access to significantly more eyeballs than other platforms.

As for the hardware ecosystem, Guggenheimer argues that the company is taking a differentiated viewpoint from its competition by allowing for a very diverse hardware ecosystem while still enabling developers to write apps that will run on all of them. In this context, Guggenheimer argued that Apple’s approach limits developers to a very small set of hardware, while Google gives developers too many choices and never quite ensures that apps run across this broad range of devices.

Kirkpatrick pushed Guggenheimer to explain why Microsoft’s products are better and why developers – and consumers – should care. Guggenheimer took the standard Microsoft line here and argued that the company’s new products like Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 offer a more personalized experience (he was clearly referring to the live tiles here) and a broader choice of form factors and price points than its competitors. It’s clear that for Guggenheimer, who previously focused on hardware, after all, the wide variety of hardware devices in the Windows ecosystem is a major selling point. This holiday, he said, will be interesting, but we will see thousands of devices in all kinds of sizes and designs by next year.

LeWeb, of course, is all about the Internet of Things this year and while Guggenheimer and Kirkpatrick did not really focus on this, Guggenheimer noted that the next version of Windows Embedded will be based on Windows 8. Thanks to this, Windows developers who want to create devices for the Internet of Things will be able to reuse their skills.