With the exit of Microsft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows head Steve Sinofsky on Monday, at the end of the day it became a battle between the two Steves, and which side Microsoft former CEO and co-founder Bill Gates would take.

Steven Sinofsky

The battle was won by CEO Steve Ballmer after he received support from Gates to wield the ax.

According to AllThings D’s Kara Swisher, it was Ballmer who made the decision to part ways with Sinofsky. He wants to promote a greater integration of Microsoft’s other divisions and include top executives more so than before for the planning and development of Windows next version.

This represents a change from the way Sinofsky ran things.

His style was a tightly held “command and control” structure, reported Swisher. One anonymous executive said of Sinofsky, “There was Steve’s way or no other way. Now, in the new world we’re competing in, it’s about creating strong areas of integration among all our products.”

Sinofsky, a 23-year veteran of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), didn’t play well with the other kids in the playground, but he was still considered effective and very bright; Ballmer could be included in this camp.

While Sinofsky’s exit may have surprised many on Monday, it wasn’t as sudden as it would appear. It had been seen as coming for several weeks, reported Swisher, but Microsoft has not commented on this.

The news of Sinofsky’s departure came via an email on Monday. The executive said he was leaving Microsoft to “seek new opportunities“–just three weeks after the launch of Windows 8. He also said that he has “always advocated using the break between product cycles as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and that applies to me too”, reported CNET.

Ballmer followed up with an e-mail to staff, where he thanked Sinofsky for his work; he also announced that Julie Larson-Green will oversee Windows engineering.

With the executive’s leaving, comes a hole in the company’s top ranks. Sinofsky was able to work with Windows and move it to a new direction under a desired time frame. But, it still didn’t endear him to his colleagues. Some left because of him and their disagreements.

What direction the company takes to fill the void remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, investors responded to the news in early trading on Tuesday with a three percent fall. While not a huge decline, it made a statement. The stock dropped to $27.10, after closing at $28.22 on Monday.

Currently, the stock is still down, 2.64%, and it is trading at $27.23.