I think we all love to be shocked.
I was shocked in Sinofsky's departure from Microsoft; The captain does not leave the boat at the first major port of call in the window 8 itinerary, and neither does he get fired. And yet...
The hardest thing of to do is work in a corner, and Microsoft is and has been in one hell of a corner for more than ten years now. And so has Sinofsky, relative to his position in the hierarchy of Microsoft. The tricky problem is growth!
From Steve Sinofsky's perspective the limit to his growth is his CEO. As such the CEO is a constraint. Looking at this from a game theoretic perspective, this constraint becomes a variable in dual formulation. Yet the last thing the CEO wants is for people to start looking at a system were he is the variable. Therefore a probable interpretation of the events is that this was preemptive protective action taken by the CEO.