Panos Panay, the chief product officer and VP for devices at Microsoft, has announced his departure from the company after 19 years. Panay had been responsible for overseeing the Surface hardware line and developing Windows software, holding a dual software/hardware leadership role similar to Apple’s. His departure comes as a surprise, especially since he had shown excitement about an upcoming Microsoft Event where the next Surface device was expected to be unveiled.
While the specific reason for Panay’s departure remains unclear, he mentioned in a statement that he has decided to turn the page and write the next chapter of his career. Microsoft has not provided any public statement on his departure, but an internal memo confirmed the news. The memo also mentioned several organizational changes, including the formation of a new Windows and Web Experiences Team and the appointment of Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Consumer and Chief Marketing Officer, to lead the Windows and Surface businesses.
It is worth noting that Microsoft’s Surface line, which Panay managed, has struggled financially, and the continuing slump in PC sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped. Despite the challenges faced by the hardware division, Microsoft has remained profitable thanks to its successful software and service business. Moreover, Microsoft has been heavily investing in AI initiatives, and if the company had to repurpose funds, the underperforming Surface and Windows team could be a logical choice.
While it is not confirmed, there are rumors suggesting that Panay may be joining Amazon to head its division responsible for Alexa and Echo devices. This speculation arises from the fact that Amazon’s current chief for Alexa and Echo, David Limp, recently announced his plans to retire. However, it is important to wait for official confirmation regarding Panay’s future plans.
In the midst of these developments, Microsoft is set to hold a hardware event in New York City this week. It remains to be seen how Panay’s departure will impact the event and if any significant changes or announcements will be made.
Overall, Panos Panay’s unexpected departure from Microsoft raises questions about the future of the Surface hardware line and Windows software. As the company undergoes organizational changes, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft navigates the challenges in the hardware market while continuing to prioritize its successful software and AI initiatives.