Though it’s had its ups and downs, Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets and laptops is generally viewed as a big success for the company, helping to shape both its own identity and the premium PC market over the last decade. The man in charge of it all is Panos Panay, a nearly 20-year veteran of Microsoft’s executive group and a huge part of the Surface and Windows teams. Microsoft has announced that he’s leaving the company as of today. His current plans aren’t known.
Update: According to an unconfirmed report from Bloomberg, Panay has been hired by Amazon to lead its Alexa and Echo product divisions.
Panay’s ultimate title at Microsoft was “Chief Product Officer,” and he was a constant presence at the company’s product announcements for both in-person and video events. Though he’s an effective brand ambassador and hype man, he’s also been an essential member of the company’s higher-ups, credited with leading the teams that created the Surface brand in 2012 and Windows 11. Panay unveiled both products in their public debuts.
In a PR email sent to PCWorld, Microsoft Executive Vice President Rajesh Ja praised Panay’s leadership and impact on the company’s products and culture. Jha says that Microsoft will “double down on [its] strategy,” so don’t expect any huge changes in directions for either Windows or Microsoft-branded PC hardware.
The timing of Panay’s departure might raise a few eyebrows, as it’s just a few days before Microsoft’s yearly fall event, where we can expect to see updates to Surface hardware. Typically Panay would be on hand to show off the updated designs and any new products, but that may not be the case this year.