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Expect Windows 10 Innovations to Surface From Microsoft’s Re-Org

Microsoft combined the Windows 10 and Surface teams under Panos Panay. Expect greater innovations to Windows 10, headaches in IT, and feature exclusivity in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. The company’s decision to combine its Windows 10 team with its Surface team – under the leadership of Surface evangelist Panos Panay – sets the stage for increased integration between its operating systems and hardware offerings.

Panay, Chief Product Officer of Microsoft, now leads the consolidated Device + Windows team. Although he isn’t part of CEO Satya Nadella’s senior leadership team, his boss, EVP Rajesh Jha, sits at the big table. The move could reverse years of uncertainty over the future of Windows and where Nadella’s priorities lie. Nadella’s cloud-at-all-costs push has largely powered Microsoft’s resurgence, but Windows has paid the price, with the CEO openly admitting Windows is “no longer the most important layer.” Expect this re-org to result in a more sharply focused Windows roadmap as its architects move ever closer to the executive suite.

Our Take

Microsoft has done an admirable job recovering from the debacle that was the Surface RT and has built the Surface brand into a US$4 billion business in just over seven years. From an IT perspective, however, it’s a story of missed opportunity. While the Surface successfully brought modest innovations to end-user computing devices, their potential was constrained because there wasn’t a well-established feedback loop with the operating system team. No longer.

With the Device + Windows team now calling the shots, IT administrators should expect to see new features in Windows 10 updates. They’ll have to deal with the headache of learning how to configure, secure, and/or block these features, as well as the headache of teaching users about them.

I expect that, at least initially, Microsoft Endpoint Manager will be the only tools capable of configuring any of these new features. Microsoft acted this way previously with Intune and the Office 365 mobile app suite, although it eventually opened up to other enterprise mobile management vendors.

Source: Microsoft Endpoint Manager at SoftwareReviews, Accessed February 14, 2020

Windows 10 needs a win. Many of its innovative features are flailing or being turned off – Microsoft brought in Alexa and had to shift its focus for Cortana, Edge was refactored onto Chromium, recent General Availability deployments were unstable, and the Universal Windows Platform is dead. If anyone can deliver, it’s Panos Panay.

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