Product Boss Panos Panay Departs Microsoft


Changing of the guard. Top executive at Microsoft in charge of Surface product line, Panos Panay, abruptly exits Redmond

Microsoft insists it remains committed to its Surface devices and Windows, amid news that long serving product chief Panos Panay is leaving the company.

Panos Panay has worked at Redmond for nearly two decades, and is the familiar face of Microsoft’s product launches and hosting events for the consumer segment in his role as Chief Product Officer.

His departure from Microsoft is quite abrupt and will take effect immediately. He also leaves just three days before Microsoft holds an event in New York where the company is expected to announce its next generation of Surface devices, CNBC noted.

Panos Panay

Indeed, it was only 20 days ago that Panay had tweeted he was excited to appear at Microsoft’s special event on Thursday, 21 September.

“Pumped to be in NYC on September 21 talking AI innovation from Microsoft! #MicrosoftEvent,” he had tweeted on 28 August.

He was regarded as one of Microsoft’s better (and enthusiastic) product presenters.

But Panay will reportedly not appear at this week’s event, after he confirmed his departure from Microsoft in a short tweet on X (formerly Twitter).

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

There is no word at the time of writing as to where Panay will be heading next.

Panay had first joined Microsoft in 2004 as a group program manager of PC hardware. But he also bore witness to a lot of Microsoft’s many failed hardware initiatives and special projects during his time at the firm.

In recent years he was known for overseeing Microsoft’s Surface line, and he became the company’s chief product officer in 2018, where he led the development of the Windows 11 operating system.

In 2021, Panay was promoted to executive vice president as part of the top leadership team that directly advises Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Changing of the guard

In an email from executive vice president Rajesh Jha to staff explaining Panay’s departure, Jha revealed that Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate VP of modern life, search, and devices, will take on the responsibility of leading the Windows and Surface businesses.

Interestingly, this Microsoft email did not include any contribution from Panos Panay himself, prompting online speculation about Microsoft’s commitment to the Surface product line going forward.

“Thank you, Panos, for your impact on our products, culture, company, and industry over the past two decades,” CEO Satya Nadella was quoted by the Verge as saying in a statement. “I’m grateful for your leadership, support, and all you’ve done for Microsoft and our customers and partners. As Rajesh stated, we remain steadfast and convicted in our strategy and Yusuf Mehdi will take lead on our Windows and Surface businesses and products externally.”

Panay’s departure does come amid sluggish Surface sales that have failed to keep up with the growth of cloud services.

Revenue from the Windows operating system has yet to return to profitability after the boost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed Microsoft recently reported in its Q4 results that Windows OEM revenue decreased 12 percent, while devices revenue decreased 20 percent.