Panos Panay Elevated to Microsoft Senior Leadership Team

Posted on August 26, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Windows 10, Windows 11 with 32 Comments

With his promotion to Windows lead last year, it was perhaps inevitable that Surface veteran Panos Panay has moved into the Microsoft Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Honestly, I’m curious why it took this long.

Also curious, there’s no official announcement. And Microsoft has quietly updated its SLT website to not display the SLT; instead, it displays a smaller list of “executive officers” for some reason. We had to learn of the change from Bloomberg.

In any event, Microsoft’s SLT now includes the person directly responsible for Windows for the first time since Terry Myerson was forced out of the company in 2018. That, combined with a renewed emphasis on improving Windows in the form of Windows 11, constitutes good news for the product, those who care most about it, and its users. The only question is whether it’s temporary.

As for Panay, he’s a divisive figure in the community: Some love the guy, and some do not. I like him, but see both sides of it. He can be a plodding speaker, and it’s fair to point out that Surface has been less than successful overall. But he’s also an excellent product designer, and with that renewed emphasis on Windows—a product that has consistently delivered north of $8 billion in revenues every quarter even when Microsoft was mostly ignoring it—his influence will grow even broader.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Panos Panay Elevated to Microsoft Senior Leadership Team”

  1. Chris_Kez

    I think "plodding" is a great word to describe not just Panos but the Surface team and business in general.

    • will

      Agreed. At one time I thought Surface was supposed to be "the" machine you would want to have if you wanted the best top-end hardware for Windows. That is not the case.

      • hrlngrv

        Was Surface meant to replace OEMs or spur them to make/sell higher-end hardware which, purely happenstantially of course, would disguise higher Windows license costs?


        When Surface first showed up Lenovo had been selling high-end ThinkPads and Dell high-end Precision laptops for years. Most PC buyers just didn't want to spend that much for high-end hardware. Most still don't. However, OEMs knew perfectly well how to make high-end hardware, and given economies of scale and decades of experience making HARDWARE, they had competitive advantages MSFT lacked with respect to MSFT's Surface line.


        MSFT isn't prepared to become a major hardware maker and reduce it's return on revenues and return on equity precipitously.

        • SenorGravy

          Well, to be fair, it wasn't *only* to spur OEM's into making higher end devices, it was also to show everyone the different types of devices that could be imagined. And there have definitely been some successes there.

    • lvthunder

      It all depends on the goals of the Surface Team. My guess is it's not to become the #1 PC maker.

      • curtisspendlove

        They really should aim for Surface to be the premium hardware line for Windows-based PCs.


        They really *should* be the “Apple of PCs”.


        Of anyone they should be able to build hardware and software in lockstep to make the best possible PC experience.


        They failed to do so. And Surface has not been a success.

      • nine54

        Then what is the goal? To develop and release a higher-end product that sells modestly? That sounds like a sort of product purgatory.


        If Microsoft feels like PC makers are not focusing enough on the customer experience and are compromising the Windows brand, then there are arguably simpler ways to solve that without building an entirely new hardware product line. If the need was around pushing the 2-in-1 form factor as envisioned during the Sinofsky era, then you can create reference devices like Intel does or subsidize an OEM partner to develop one.

  2. ronh

    This is worthy of its own post.

    Security is hard to get right if you don't pay attention to all the details. While it would be great to get the final version of Win 11 on my Surface Pro 4 (custom version signed by Paul, MJ and Brad at a meet up in Toronto).


    But, I don't want my Surface to be the weakpoint and getting compromised.


    Time to start shopping. When is the next Surface event......?

  3. james_makumbi

    The Dilbert Principle.

    Or keeping him close because..... Windows 10X and Surface Neo.

    Nooooooooooo I have nothing against Panos. Far from it......

  4. ezekiel grey

    It's too bad you couldn't get a photo of Panos with your Macbook in his hand at that Microsoft Event. :-D

  5. pbeiler1

    Thinking back in time: From Win 3.1 to Win7, generally an upgrade to a newer operating system also required new hardware. Just saying.....

    • hrlngrv

      More Windows 3.0 (which worked LOTS better with 80386 CPUs and EXTENDED memory vs Windows 2/286/386 which worked OK with 8086/8 CPUs and EXPANDED memory) to Windows Vista. Vista to 7 didn't require new hardware if one's Vista PC were Vista Ready rather than Vista Capable.

      • nerdile

        How many PCs sold more than three years before Vista came out, were "Vista ready" OR "Vista capable"? When Vista came out in 2006, I have fond memories of putting Vista on my 2005 Toshiba Satellite Tablet PC, and the tablet support was so amazing, I was almost tempted to keep it on there despite the fact that it could no longer watch DVDs or do nearly anything even slightly graphically involved at all. I think our expectations for Windows upgrades have changed a lot compared to mobile devices (no updates after three years) or Windows upgrades since 7 that all required newer hardware.

  6. ngc224

    I never really liked Panos, but if Microsoft supports him, I’ll support him. But please Microsoft, spend a couple hundred grand for an image consultant.


    His mannerisms, jewelry, facial expressions and facial hair – all need to go. And can you give him a better script to work with?

    • bettyblue

      He is a complete clown with a Job’s complex. He will never be a Jobs no matter how hard he ties.


      Surface IMHO has been an over all failure since the Surface RT.


      I am not sure how he can take any credit for Windows as it has been around before him and despite what Paul thinks Windows is coasting on momentum and is not a product people actually like or care about in 2021.



  7. cseafous

    I am also shocked that this didn't happen with his promotion. Is it possible that this happened back then but wasn't announced and is just now being confirmed?

  8. atlantapaul

    Will his new office be outfitted in Alcantara?

  9. mattbg

    It's hard to see how this could be framed as a bad thing.


    Agree with the comments from the podcast that it's hard to believe that such a prominent product generating so much commercial revenue did not have a seat at the SLT table.


    That lack of SLT seat did show us where Microsoft's priorities have been the last number of years, which we all recognized was true via the quality of the output on the Windows side.

  10. mattbg

    I came here to see if anyone was pumped by this, and left disappointed.

  11. divodd

    I'm going to keep not liking him until they confirm Windows 11 support for 7th Gen Intel PCs and then I will return to indifference

    • chuckop

      By the time Windows 11 is mainstream, it won't matter that 7th gen Intel CPUs aren't supported. It's a security-based requirement, and the older technology doesn't cut it. If Windows 11 allows for 7th gen, then it has to support 7th gen for the next 10 years, and that hampers adoption of security technology.

      • nine54

        Regardless of whether MSFT is justified in the Win 11 security/hardware position, the handling of this has been poor. No one will "need" Win 11 on Day 1. But understandably, people want to be on the latest and greatest and feel they're getting the most out of their investments--even if Win 11 won't really bring anything tangibly beneficial outside of a new UI and UX. If MSFT still sells hardware with incompatible chips, that is just a bad look.

      • divodd

        Also Microsoft is not obligated to support every system the OS runs on for the same time period, that's a policy choice they are making. If they said a Core Generation was supported 10 years from release of that hardware instead of Windows 11`s release date I think that would make a more sensible policy

      • divodd

        I get the logic, and the thought process is sound, but at the end of the day I spent $1700 on an XPS in late 2017 with the expectation of software support that outclasses midrange and low end options.

      • lvthunder

        So what's the difference between 7th gen and 8th gen chips from a security perspective? Microsoft is still selling computers with 7th gen chips in them.

      • Paul Thurrott

        This might be the smartest thing I've ever read. Good point.

        • IanYates82

          Surface Studio 2 - looks lovely but is going to be a giant paperweight. You don't buy that machine to be stuck in the past. It's amazing that they're still selling it with a straight face.


          I don't know of any major difference between 7th and 8th gen CPUs. Is it that they hope to remove some of the spectre and meltdown mitigations from their code? It can't be some of the fancy provisions Intel added for transactional memory as I don't think all CPUs even have that today.

          TPM 2.0 is maybe a win? Haven't seen a good explanation of what it offers tbh. Tied up in the Android app stuff perhaps? Maybe the 8th gen requirement ties in to that too? Or it's just a matter of testing...

          8th gen was when we got the extra CPU cores


          My 7th gen laptop is running 11 OK. A couple of green screens - once a week or so. Not a fan of the new task bar - I like having the names of running apps always shown and that option is now gone. It's literally the first setting I change when I get on to a new pc or server.

          • hrlngrv

            | It's amazing that they're still selling it with a straight face.


            No used car salesman worth his commission would object to selling lemons to the weak minded. Is selling PC hardware all that different? [Not sarcasm.]


            Is it up to the vendor to withdrawn less than ideal hardware from the market, or up to potential customers to avoid dreck?


            TPM 2.0 on laptops may make a lot of sense, but TPM at all on immobile desktop PCs seems unnecessary. I guess MSFT wants to maintain only one type of authentication subsystem.

  12. frank_costanza

    The Surface team is intentionally kept on a short leash by Microsoft to placate independent device makers.


    It’s a fine line they walk—innovating just enough to push other device makers forward while leaving room for 3rd parties to thrive.

  13. codymesh

    I guess it helps that Panos is not just the windows lead but he's also a design and hardware lead.

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