Windows Rocked by Major Reorg

Posted on August 6, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, Windows, Windows 10 with 63 Comments and have viewed internal Microsoft documents describing a massive reorganization of its Windows business, which is now called Windows + Devices.

“Today, we are building upon our momentum and the company is leaning on us to lead the next phase of the Windows vision for our ecosystem with over [one billion customers and counting],” an internal email written by Panos Panay reads. “In taking the next step, our focus is on product-making, aligning experiences across the company, and inspiring our broad and vibrant ecosystem. Our desire is to create end-user pull across all segments of the business. As we move forward, I’m energized and passionate about the incredible opportunity in front of us.”

According to Panay, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped remind Microsoft of how important Windows is to its business. And this realization requires the firm to accelerate momentum by energizing developers, funneling the best of Microsoft through Surface and third-party PCs and devices.

“The mission of Windows + Devices is to build platforms and products that create and complete magical experiences with all of Microsoft, to empower every person and organization to achieve more,” Panay explains. This business stands on three core pillars:

  • Deliver iconic experiences across Microsoft, lighting up both modern work and life.
  • Grow the business of Windows and Surface, delivering the best of Microsoft and creating end-user pull.
  • Lead the industry through innovation and technology, enabling our ecosystem of partners to thrive.

Making this happen requires Microsoft to realign and integrate “for a single strategy and ownership across the business end-to-end.” He cites the following individuals who are changing roles to help lead this new push:

Jeff Johnson will lead the new Windows, Developers, and Experiences (WDX) Engineering team, which is a combination of the Windows Experiences and Developer Ecosystem Platform teams. This team will focus on commercial customers, developers, and consumers, and will “enable ongoing Windows growth and innovation, with a focus on our people-centered and product-making culture.”

Linda Averett will join Windows + Devices to lead a new Windows, Developers, and Experiences PM team that is a combination of the Windows Experiences PM team and Developer Ecosystem Platform PM team. This team will focus on the input stack and “the UI construct,” and will engage with Microsoft’s developer audience. “The team will focus on customer delight and innovation which lead to Windows growth,” Panay claims.

Michael Fortin will join Windows + Devices, expanding his role to lead a new team that combines various services teams like Cosine and 365 Experiences and Services. Mr. Fortin will also be responsible for Windows Client Fundamentals that will “accelerate growth and scale.”

Aidan Marcuss will be stepping away as Devices COO to take on a new role to lead Windows product planning, ecosystem (including the Windows Ecosystem Enablement team), Store, and 1st– and 3rd-party apps. This new team will “lead the Windows product vision forward by connecting planning, execution, and rhythms to our broad ecosystem,” Panay writes. “This alignment is critical at this stage as we create a center of gravity for both Windows client and the overall Windows business.”

Brett Ostrum will lead Devices product and roadmap across Program Management and Hardware Development. “This will establish a single point of ownership for the Surface business and combine the product leadership together across all products including Foldables,” Panay explains.

Robin Seiler will lead the Devices Portfolio and Operations (DPO) team, which will cover end-to-end business strategy for Windows and Devices, framing and funding for long-term business goals, continued responsibilities for Supply Chain, Packaging, and Release Management.

“Windows is a partnership,” Panay continues. “Innovation and success are only possible through close collaboration with other teams across Microsoft. Windows + Devices is the entry point to all Microsoft services, and we are committed to working hand-in-hand with our partners in COSINE, Microsoft 365, SAN, Edge, and so many other teams throughout the company to address customers’ needs.  We will continue to align our product and business rhythms to stay connected on our vision at every step towards achieving our big goals.  By bringing product-makers together, and continuing to work with our partners, we will streamline decision-making and create the best experiences to engage customers, energize developers, inspire partners, and lead the ecosystem.”

The changes are effective immediately.

“For those of you joining the Windows + Devices team today, I can’t tell you how truly pumped I am to welcome you to the team,” Panay concludes. “With this team, with our partners, we are going to make magic together.”


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Comments (63)

63 responses to “Windows Rocked by Major Reorg”

  1. Taylor Chirillo

    Paul, please translate "end-user pull" for us.

  2. Jorge Garcia

    Good. Maybe now we can get an Android based desktop OS (like DeX) that I can recommend to normal people without implicitly signing myself up for the technical support that comes from telling someone to buy a Windows machine.

    • solomonrex

      In reply to JG1170:

      I don't know how serious you are, but I would like to see a mobile+cloud plan from them, rather than dipping their toes into ARMbooks while keeping one foot in the grave of x86. If they persist, they will succeed, but it will be ugly and destructive the way that they're going.

      Apple succeeds at platform transitions because they have a plan and execute it, laying the stones years ahead of time instead of flip-flopping in response to a thousand different voices (OEMs, chipmaker deals, developers whining, internal divisions dragging their feet).

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to solomonrex:

        I'm completely serious. Android has won the platform war as far as I am concerned. Pretty much everybody in Asia (exc. Japan), India and Africa has Android as their main OS. Why shouldn't there be a "Windows-like" version of Android for slightly heavier tasking?. Samsung has figured this out already with DeX, but Microsoft hasn't. I detest walking into a Best Buy and watching auntie may struggle over which Windows laptop to buy when the answer for her (and many other normies) is obviously NONE. All she needs is an iPad (which I can never recommend) or a decent Android tablet with a keyboard and track-pad (of which there are far too few).

  3. mattbg

    It would have been nice to see someone given a role at this level related to Quality Assurance.

  4. youwerewarned

    So all of these folks are filling boxes and swapping offices. Meaning at least 6 months of confusion and lowered productivity.

    We'll wait, again...

    • solomonrex

      In reply to YouWereWarned:
      1. Everyone is already home though?
      2. This is mostly at the top level, as far as I can tell. It's not like a merger or spinoff. Also, how many boxes do employees need in 2020? One? Pretty sure there are no papers to move or MS is failing at bigger things than a reorg.
      • youwerewarned

        In reply to solomonrex:

        OK, you want literal: this impacts the troops. And they will not function optimally until they "learn" their new boss (wherever their butt is at this moment). And the new bosses are having to scope them out, too.

        Lots of uncertainty...which is the main reason change in orgs is disruptive and unpopular.

        Anyone with a clean paperless desk is suspect (even if they swear it's all in the cloud). If you are moving those guys around (rather than out), you're not fixing stuff.

  5. compuser

    Haven't they done this at least once before? It sure does seem like déjà vu all over again.

    • solomonrex

      In reply to CompUser:

      It's normal for companies to reorg every couple years, for normal companies. At the big monopoly boys, it would be a sign of concern. BUT Microsoft's businesses are genuinely changing fast and Nadella is sharp, so it's probably fine.

  6. naddy69

    "We will continue to align our product and business rhythms to stay connected on our vision at every step towards achieving our big goals. By bringing product-makers together, and continuing to work with our partners, we will streamline decision-making and create the best experiences to engage customers, energize developers, inspire partners, and lead the ecosystem.”

    This reads like a copy and paste from The Corporate B.S. Generator. Look it up and then bookmark it.

  7. whgb

    I'm really excited about them "creating end-user pull"!

  8. jumpingjackflash5

    In recent years Windows unfortunately goes downhill pretty fast .... It is sad to watch once great Operating system to become hardly serviceable entity ...

    • solomonrex

      In reply to jumpingjackflash5:

      You really need to shelve that. There have been bumps, but some of us have been on Windows 10 now, at home and work, for years. And personally, I haven't had an issue since they fixed the 'random mid day Windows Update reboot' issue.

      None of their other OSs were perfect on Day 1, either, you know, particularly not the ones I used (95, 98, XP, Windows... Windows 2000 might have been perfect on Day 1 though).

      • Greg Green

        In reply to solomonrex:

        The most popular version of Win 10 is 1903 (43%), and support for that ends this year. The second most popular version is 1909 (38%) and support for that ends in less than a year for many. That’s a lot of people to move in a few months to an OS that is still not available to most.

      • crp0908

        In reply to solomonrex:

        Windows 10 may seem great to some. But those are usually not the folks so familiar with the technical aspects of Windows that they're their organization's last line of defense before contacting Microsoft because something is broken with Windows. We have had to contact Microsoft too many times since we began using Windows 10 exclusively.

        I have been a Windows troubleshooter since the days of Windows 95 / 98. I could fix any issue on Windows 7 with the SURT tool. I agree with jumpingjackflash5 that Windows 8.1 and 10 can be loathsome at times. Windows 10 is great when it works correctly. But when it is broken, good luck to you.

    • glenn8878

      In reply to jumpingjackflash5:

      It’s been downhill since the beginning.

  9. cobrickman

    And where is the testing and stability team? Oh yeah, now I remember.

  10. a_lurker

    Why does remind me of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic?

  11. John Dunagan

    Maybe this explains why I'm getting prompted to restart for update every other day. I can really start to feel the close collaboration through all my end-points.

  12. Greg Green

    This reminds me of the old USMC joke about the 3 envelopes in the drawer to be used during evaluations. The first envelope says blame your missed goals on personnel and replacing key personnel will fix it. The second envelope says blame your missed goals on misorganization and a reorganization will fix it. The third envelope says make 3 more envelopes for your replacement.

  13. behindmyscreen

    When do they start working on making the UI consistent across the entire OS?

  14. BlackForestHam

    Not once, since Windows 3.0, have I felt a "magical experience" using the operating system.

  15. Intara

    I guess there would be a lot of magic needed to excite the people in the background of the picture.

  16. red.radar

    magical experiences”. That one let out a major grooooaaaannnn

  17. olditpro2000

    There's a lot of business boilerplate speak in this. Do they have a team of people that writes these things?

    Also, shouldn't Panos Panay be on the SLT by now?

  18. kd5hiy

    "...the COVID-19 pandemic has helped remind Microsoft of how important Windows is to its business." This bothers me. They make the platform that is used by a billion+ people and they just kind of forgot that a little.

    I don't know the answer to this, but do they have too many marshmallows in the fire? This one is making us a ton of money, while the others are getting scorched?

    • Greg Green

      In reply to kd5hiy:

      Exactly. The world plays and socializes on mobile but it works on Windows PCs and laptops. Go into almost any business office and you’ll see Windows and Office being used.

      That MS needed to be reminded of this says they still haven’t recovered from the Win8 debacle.

  19. solomonrex

    So it's a little off-putting to see MS fall into the reorg trap a bit, but their business is transforming. I'm a little confused at the lack of any cloud buzz words here. The main upshot(?) seems to be that Surface is a main pillar now (well part of a main pillar) despite the store closings. And that 'foldables' are going to be real and important, at least in their mind.

    And I'm sure, regardless of its tiny size, that the store decision was part of this.

    I continue to see local 'windows shops', ie Windows-based IT departments, sabotage cloud deployments including MS's cloud deployments, and I have yet to see an effective response from MS. They seem to think time will grind down organizations into upgrading, but I'm not sure. Windows 10 deployments still drag on at many places, as Windows 10 is up and down and security is becoming high effort.

    Windows 7 is supported with additional payments, and I wonder how popular that option is. I'm sure there are large parts of MS not too upset about that situation or the additional money.

  20. melich13

    Sounds promising, right?

    • jchampeau

      In reply to melich13:

      These kinds of announcements always sound promising. But let's check in next year around this time and see if there's still version fragmentation like we have today, UI inconsistencies everywhere, Windows updates that break Outlook, two control panels, game ads/crapware on the start menu, bad performance on ARM, etc.

      • martinusv2

        In reply to jchampeau:

        Next year? My guess it is a multi year process. I would say in 3 years we will start seeing the fruit of their work.

      • darkgrayknight

        In reply to jchampeau/melich13

        This does seem more promising than what we've seen before. There have been some more movement toward consistency in Windows UI. More items are available in the Settings and some items have actually been removed in the Control Panel. Also, icons are being updated.

        We will have to see if in the next year they can finish the merging of control panel to settings and finish off all the icons (as well as other UI inconsistencies).

      • mattbg

        In reply to jchampeau:

        True - what did we actually get from the last two Windows reorgs?

  21. lilmoe

    "Grow the business of Windows and Surface"

    Having to state something like this explicitly just shows how it wasn't a priority before this reorg...

  22. Hawaiianteg

    I thought Windows wasn’t important anymore, isn’t that what everyone has been saying? Azure everything? But now Windows is important again???

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yep. It appears that the pandemic has driven home what's important and what's not. Well, that doesn't explain TikTok. But you know what I mean.
  23. pauldain

    "Magical?" ?‍♂️

  24. mikefarinha

    I can tell how pumped Panos is just by looking at the picture of him!

  25. feek

    who are these people and wtf even are these teams?

    also, where's joe b

  26. djross95

    And all the guys in the pic with Panos above are using Macs. Perhaps that's part of the problem.

  27. winner

    Let's translate a few of Panos's terms from the letter:

    • "Vibrant ecosystem" = "stale environment"
    • "magical experiences" = "advertising, which is magical for us"
    • "Iconic experiences" = "Applying Updates. Do not turn off your PC"
    • "end-user pull" = "coerce customers into our services, like we did with the deceptive Windows 10 upgrade box"
    • "a single strategy" = "continued muddled marketing, reorganization of services, and renaming of products"
    • "continue to align our product and business rhythms" = "continue to frequently reorganize"
  28. blue77star

    So Microsoft is bringing Windows back to its focus. This is a good thing.

  29. sherlockholmes

    “Today, we are building upon our momentum and the company is leaning on us to lead the next phase of the Windows vision for our ecosystem with over [one billion customers and counting],”

    That doesnt sound good.

  30. sentinel6671

    There's so much B.S. in Microsoft's statements. I just hope it translates to proper attention to the Windows platform so that we can all carry on and get our work done.

  31. navarac

    I'd like to meet these verbose scriptwriters of goobledegoop. Panay's statement is just that - gobbledegook, or Microsoftese market speak. Whatever happened to plain English?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm glad to see people picking up on this. It is the worst form of corporate nonsense speak I've ever seen.
  32. rmlounsbury

    This seems like a good move on the surface with Microsoft pulling Windows out of the witness protection program living in Azure. But, just like all the fancy things Microsoft Design puts out; I'll believe it when I actually see the changes in/with Windows.

  33. will

    Ok, I guess I am the only one that reads the positions and responsibilities of each person and thinking they should be simpler titles? IMO its just too wordy

  34. swiftress

    If they want to win hearts and minds to the platform they should start by including a certificate for a free ham sandwich with every new OS purchase.