Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay is expanding his purview to include the Windows user experience teams. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft is embarking on a reorganization that will bring part of the Windows team under the purview of Panos Panay, the tech giant’s chief product officer and face of its hardware efforts.

The changes, first reported by ZDNet, combine the Surface hardware division with the teams that design the user experience for Windows. The new group will be called Windows + Devices, and it combines the Surface and Windows Experience teams, reporting directly to Executive Vice President Rajesh Jha. The core engineering of the operating system will remain under the direction of Jason Zander, Microsoft Azure executive vice president.

The reorganization ties Windows and Surface together as Microsoft embarks on a new era for its hardware division. The tech giant is planning a pair of hybrid devices to be released later this year, the foldable Surface Duo phone and the larger Surface Neo. By bringing Windows and Surface together, Microsoft will get more collaboration on the design of the operating systems that power these new devices.

“We believe this will make the Windows Client experience better for the entire PC ecosystem,” Panay wrote in an internal memo obtained by ZDNet. “Designing hardware and software together will enable us to do a better job on our long term Windows bets (dual screen, silicon diversity, connectivity, app platform, etc.) and having a single point of Windows Client Experience leadership driving consistent priorities and resourcing across all of Windows client will help all of us accelerate innovation and improve execution.”

We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment and we will update this post if we hear back.

Once Microsoft’s flagship product, Windows’ influence has faded in recent years under CEO Satya Nadella. A reorganization in 2018 split the group in two, sending engineering over to the Azure side of the house and the design and user experience to the Experiences & Devices group. Since then, Windows has been without a champion on the company’s senior leadership team.

Assigning part of the Windows division to Panay is a sign that the company remains committed to the operating system as a major part of the business, according to CNBC. Panay is a high-profile figure within the company who has gained fame in the tech world for his colorful new device presentations every fall.

Here are some of the other personnel changes coming with the reorganization:

  • Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore, who currently leads the Windows Experience team, will move to the Office group after taking a sabbatical.
  • Corporate Vice President and Microsoft Teams executive Brian MacDonald is retiring. He will be replaced by fellow CVP Jeff Teper, who will now run Teams in addition to OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Microsoft 365 CVP Kirk Koenigsbauer will become Jha’s chief operating officer.