“Panos Panay” will not be an anagram for “ardour,” however at Microsoft, it was fairly darn shut.

Panos Panay, the chief product officer for Microsoft, unexpectedly stepped down on Tuesday, after serving almost twenty years on the firm. Panay rose to the ranks of chief product officer, overseeing the event of Home windows and its complementary Floor PC line. Apparently, Panay gave no particular purpose for leaving, and at press time had solely posted a single message saying his departure on Twitter/X.

Much more apparently, Panay had initially stated he would oversee the launch of Microsoft’s subsequent Floor gadgets at an occasion this week, on Sept. 21. It’s not clear when Panay’s closing day can be, nevertheless it’s virtually sure that he’ll hand off presentation duties to another person. In line with an inside memo that Microsoft made public, Mikhail Parakhin, who heads up Bing and Bing Chat, will oversee a brand new Home windows and Internet Experiences group. Floor seems to nonetheless be beneath the management of Pavan Duvuluri, the present normal supervisor of Floor and the top of Home windows Silicon and Methods Integration. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s client chief, will nonetheless deal with exterior OEM relationships and can most likely oversee the Floor occasion.

After 19 unbelievable years at Microsoft, I’ve determined to show the web page and write the subsequent chapter. I’m endlessly grateful for my time at Microsoft and the superb folks I had the distinction to make merchandise with.— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) September 18, 2023

So is Panay’s departure a optimistic or a destructive for Microsoft? It’s a chance, however one Microsoft most likely gained’t take.

We spent appreciable time outlining the issues with Floor earlier this yr. To recap: Microsoft’s Floor {hardware} has turn out to be stale, simply recycling product after product with nary a change apart from the interior configuration and a tweak to the exterior ports. Opponents are main the way in which. (To be honest, these opponents complained vehemently when Microsoft first launched Floor, believing that Microsoft would train the unfair benefit of being intimately near its Home windows group.) And, after all, we weren’t certain how Microsoft would design a PC for the AI age.

It seems that Microsoft is pushing the latter level laborious. By making Parakhin the Home windows chief, the function of AI turns into outstanding. It appears probably that Home windows Copilot, the AI-powered software that (let’s face it) is at present slightly dumb, will steadily enhance and start to take over an increasing number of inside Home windows itself.

Will Microsoft head in the appropriate path?

Recent blood is at all times an opportunity for enchancment and alter. However Microsoft doesn’t often change within the path we wish.

Panay and Mehdi are the 2 most outstanding client voices at Microsoft. One simply left. However Panay was at all times the person who was synonymous with new experiences, emphasizing the particular person as a lot because the product. His typically tearful displays showcased each his household in addition to the household of gadgets that he launched to the world. Panay struck me as a person who believed strongly in what he did, and satisfied administration to strive new issues, comparable to the entire varied iterations of the Floor lineup.

Sadly, many weren’t profitable (Floor Neo, Floor Duo) or not clearly so (the Floor Laptop computer Go, amongst others), although there are definitely loads of sturdy Floor hits. No matter success or failure, nonetheless, Floor gadgets have at all times been impeccably designed, and thanks partly to Panay’s pumped-up product reveals, they at all times appeared to have coronary heart, a purpose to exist. Panay was a passionate voice for the buyer.

Mehdi has historically taken a safer, extra company method.

Now, Microsoft and Duvuluri may take this chance to revamp Floor: change its design, clean up its product classes. The place’s our Xbox gaming PC? We may have a contemporary, vibrant Microsoft, bringing among the enjoyable again. Why not a Steam Deck-like cellular gaming PC, too?


I believe the alternative will occur: Microsoft will begin quietly trimming among the experimental Floor traces we’ve seen previously, most likely returning to some type of a Floor Professional/Floor Laptop computer duopoly, with some third system (both a Floor Go or subsequent Floor Laptop computer Studio iterations) for creatives. That’s it.

Microsoft’s quarterly earnings proceed to be dominated by the cloud, particularly Azure. The PC enterprise has at all times been a rocky street. Microsoft 365 subscriptions have taken off in recent times, and Microsoft needs to signal clients up for Microsoft 365 Copilot AI subscriptions, too, at a whopping $30 per consumer monthly. The message right here is that Microsoft needs you to join as many recurring subscriptions as your pockets will bear. Count on enterprise to be the main focus, not customers.

Panos Panay has (had?) a voice. A soul. Bing Chat as soon as did too, and Microsoft’s Parakhin killed it. It’s now only a bland AI assistant. Anyway, Microsoft is clearly extra occupied with AI that helps companies earn a living. And why not? That’s the place the cash really is, in spite of everything.

I believe we must always all ask the query: Did Panos go away as a result of he felt his work was performed? Or as a result of he believed that Microsoft wouldn’t have the ability to progress any additional? It’s powerful to ask customers to imagine within the merchandise Microsoft will introduce this week when their champion has departed the sphere.

Bloomberg stories that Panay is headed to Amazon, to supervise its Alexa division and its associated gadgets.

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