The teams responsible for the development of Windows Client and the Surface tablets should soon be placed under the same direction to better organize their collaboration. Some fear that in doing so the publisher will shift its priorities even further from the PC world.
Microsoft would regroup its staff in charge of Windows for client workstations with those related to its Surface tablet. The two teams were placed under the leadership of product director Panos Panay who led the first. According to the US edition of ZDNet, the new set will operate under the name “Windows + Devices”. Joe Belfiore, who for his part headed the Surface team, is expected to join the Office pole later in the year.
“This approach will allow us to streamline our decision-making process, to be clear on our priorities, and to provide the best user experience, whether in terms of components, OS, applications and connected hardware” , would have written Panos Panay in an internal memo.
An approach that works for Apple and Google
The regrouping of teams that Microsoft is preparing to implement is already topical at Apple, where the teams in charge of software and hardware work together very closely. Google has also made the same choice by creating very strong links between the teams in charge of Chromebooks and the Pixel on the one hand, and the developers working on ChromeOS on the other hand. Obviously, this works very well for Apple, as well as for Google, whose ecosystem is thriving.
Of course, by evolving within the same company, Windows Client teams and Surface teams already naturally maintain a certain level of collaboration. Their regrouping would take their interactions to a much more advanced stage. Traditionally, Microsoft had its announcements around the Surface coincide with those for corresponding Windows updates. But it was in October 2018 that Panos Panays and Yusuf Mehdi, the vice president of what was then called the Modern Life and Devices division, openly linked products such as the Surface Pro 6 to Microsoft’s collaboration tools. as well as Office and Windows.
The arrival of the Surface had raised fears among PC manufacturers
In October 2012, when Microsoft launched the first Surface model, PC makers feared the publisher would compete with them with its tablet. The latter calmed their apprehensions by positioning the Surface and, later, the Surface Studio as pioneering offers in their field whose vocation was to create markets in which PC manufacturers could rush.
However, Microsoft’s “pioneering” efforts have not always created an overall movement in the personal terminal market. Neither the Surface Pro (2017), Surface 6, and the newer Surface Pro 7 have really encountered any competition in the Windows tablet market. The OEMs preferred not to put the emphasis on the shelves to better concentrate on terminals of the more traditional clamshell type. Microsoft is also positioning itself as a follower since it should follow in the footsteps of a Lenovo offering the ThinkPad X1 Fold folding notebook with the launch of the Surface Neo scheduled for this fall.
The cloud has already taken Microsoft away from the PC world
To the question of knowing if the reorganization of Microsoft constitutes a threat for the industry of the PC, one can certainly answer no. But it might have a demoralizing effect on computer makers, with some believing that the Microsoft teams coming together will make it harder for everyone to compete against each other. Microsoft’s recent emphasis on the cloud – and indeed, its alienation from the PC world – likely feeds these concerns.
It will be up to Microsoft to make its reorganization benefit the PC industry as a whole, not just it. We will have to wait and see what the publisher says on this subject when it has officially regrouped its Windows Client and Surface teams.