Surface and Windows lead Panos Panay is leaving Microsoft in major shake up, reportedly headed to Amazon (Update)

 Surface Studio.
Surface Studio.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft EVP and CPO of Windows & Devices, Panos Panay, is leaving the company after 20 years.

  • The news was announced via an internal memo sent to employees this morning.

  • Panay's role will be split between Yusef Mehdi and Mikhail Parakhin.

  • The memo also details Microsoft's focus on Windows and devices going into 2024 and beyond.

  • UPDATE Sept. 19, 2023: Panay will reportedly join Amazon following his departure from Microsoft.

UPDATE Sept. 18, 2023 at 1:50 PM ET: Bloomberg reports that Panay is headed to Amazon "to run the division responsible for Alexa and the Echo smart speakers." The move follows as Dave Limp, Amazon's hardware chief, is retiring at the end of 2023.

Microsoft has also confirmed with Windows Central that Panay will not be at this week's Surface event.

Panos Panay, a 20-year veteran at Microsoft who was most recently in charge of Windows client and Surface, will be leaving the company. Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's EVP of Experiences & Devices, announced the news in an internal email this morning:

"After nearly 20 years at the company, Panos Panay has decided to leave Microsoft. Panos has had an incredible impact on our products and culture as well as the broader devices ecosystem. Under Panos’ leadership, the team created the iconic Surface brand with loved products. More recently, as the leader of Windows, the team has brought amazing services and experiences to hundreds of millions with Windows 11 on innovative devices including those from our OEM partners. He will be missed, and I am personally very grateful for his many contributions over the years. Please join me in wishing him well. 

Moving forward, we will double down on our strategy. These changes will be effective immediately with Panos’ help in the transition. 

Build silicon, systems and devices that span Windows, client and cloud for an AI world. This team will be led by Pavan Davuluri, who will report directly to me. Brett Ostrum, Nino Storniolo, Linda Averett, Ken Pan, Ralf Groene, Aidan Marcuss, Carlos Picoto, Stevie Bathiche, Robin Seiler, Ruben Caballero and Anuj Gosalia will move to report to Pavan with their teams intact. Windows planning and release management will continue to be in this team. Our commitment to Surface and MR remains unchanged.

Build experiences that blend web, services and Windows for an AI world. To this end, Shilpa Ranganathan, Jeff Johnson and Ali Akgun will directly report to Mikhail Parakhin and form a new Windows and Web Experiences Team, moving with their teams intact. 

Yusuf Mehdi will take on the responsibility of leading the Windows and Surface businesses with our OEM and Retail partners. In addition, Charles Simonyi, Terri Chudzik and Erin Kolb will join the E+D management teams and Ralf Groene and Mike Davidson will work together on the best alignment on design teams. We will set up time for an AMA in the coming days to answer questions. Let’s continue to stay focused on executing on our existing plans. Thank you for all that you do, and the impact that you have for our customers and partners. "

The news will likely shock many, as Panay has been incredibly passionate about his work on Surface and, most recently, Windows. Panay took charge of the Windows client experience in 2020, and was the reason behind the company's renewed interest in the Windows OS, which resulted in Windows 11 shipping in 2021.

In a tweet, Panay said the following:

"After 19 incredible years at Microsoft, I've decided to turn the page and write the next chapter. I’m forever grateful for my time at Microsoft and the amazing people I had the honor to make products with."

The internal memo also details Microsoft's key focus areas for Windows and hardware going into 2024:

  • Build silicon, systems and devices that span Windows, client and cloud for an AI world

  • Build experiences that blend web, services and Windows for an AI world.

The memo makes mention of a new Windows and Web Experiences org, which my sources say is working on a secret new version of Windows that will serve as a true cloud and web-first OS designed to compete with Chrome OS, seemingly led by Mikhail Parakhin. I'll have more to share on this project at a later date.

For now, Jha says Microsoft's commitment to Surface remains unchanged, meaning we should continue to see new Surface products from the company for the foreseeable future. Microsoft plans to launch the Surface Laptop Studio 2, Surface Go 4, and Surface Laptop Go 4 this week at a special event in New York City.