What just happened? Microsoft has put its hardware and Windows Experience teams under a new single 'Device + Windows' unit that'll be led by Panos Panay, the current chief product officer. With Windows Client under his supervision, Panay will take over from Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president, who'll be moving to the company's Office group when the restructuring goes into effect on February 25.
Panos Panay has been leading Microsoft's hardware efforts for several years now and is best known for his work on the Surface lineup of devices, which he passionately speaks about during the company's hardware events.
Redmond has now decided to give him the reigns of the software experience underpinning those devices as well. Initially reported by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft's internal reorganization is set to combine the Windows Experience and Surface hardware teams into a single team, which will report to Panay.
Mary also shared an excerpt from Panay's internal email to Microsoft employees regarding his new role.
Personally I'm very excited to lead the Windows Client for Microsoft, which will help us streamline our decision-making processes, be clear on our priorities, and deliver the best end user experiences from silicon through operating systems across all Microsoft apps and service connected devices (OEMs and Surface). We believe this will make the Windows Client experience better for the entire PC ecosystem. Designing hardware and software together will enable us to do a better job on our long term Windows bets (dual screen, silicon diversity, connectivity, app platform, etc.) and having a single point of Windows Client Experience leadership driving consistent priorities and resourcing across all of Windows client will help all of us accelerate innovation and improve execution. This is such an amazing time and opportunity to bring more energy to Windows and our customers using Windows. It won't be easy, but extending our growth will be key for our company strategy.
It's also rumored that Panos was considering a leave of absence from Microsoft and could have ended up joining Apple. His new role, however, is certainly more empowering and would enable him to realize his vision by controlling both the software and hardware side of things.
It remains to be seen how the user experience of Windows benefits from Panos, though let's hope that sorting out inconsistencies with Settings/Control Panel and effective implementation of the company's Fluent Design System are some of his priorities.