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Microsoft is signaling renewed interest in Windows with the latest restructuring

Microsoft this week is making some significant changes to the way it runs its Windows organization, signaling a renewed focus on the operating system that made its name.

The software giant blamed Surface boss Panos Panay for Windows earlier this year and is now remixing parts of this team. It follows Microsoft’s decision to split Windows into two parts more than two years ago after former Windows boss Terry Myerson left. Microsoft has moved core Windows development to a cloud and AI team (Azure) and created a new group to work on Windows 10 experiences like apps, the start menu, and new features.

Now Microsoft is moving parts of Windows development back under the control of Panos Panay. Specifically, this means that the Windows Fundamentals and Developer Experience teams have been rolled back to what we traditionally call the Windows team. It̵

7;s an admission that the major Windows split didn’t quite work as planned. We have seen a lot of evidence of this, with a messy Windows 10 development experience, Windows delayed updates, a lack of major new features, and a lot of Windows update issues lately.

Microsoft Panos Panay.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Thurrott.com received an internal memo from Panos Panay in which the changes made here are described in detail. While some core parts of Windows, especially the technical side, remain with the Azure division, Microsoft’s reshuffle is focused on cleaning up Windows so that it can be shipped and updated reliably. The changes also align Microsoft’s Project Reunion app, bringing Win32 and UWP apps closer together with the Windows team.

Microsoft’s Windows team at Panay will continue to work closely with the core technical side of Windows on Azure. However, the reshuffle should lead to more consistency and a stronger focus on Windows in Microsoft. “Windows is a partnership,” says Panay. “Innovation and success are only possible through close cooperation with other Microsoft teams.”

A bigger focus on Windows in Microsoft comes during an ongoing pandemic that has proven the importance of the operating system. Windows usage has increased as workers and students around the world resort to laptops and personal computers via cell phones to work from home. PC shipments have also increased as businesses adapt to a new reality. Microsoft recognized this change earlier this year and changed its Windows 10X operating system to focus on laptops over dual-screen devices.

Panay now says he’s “pumped” (he’s always pumped) to welcome new members to his Windows team. “With this team and our partners, we will do magic together,” says Panay in his internal memo. According to the memo, Microsoft’s Windows and devices business, which is managed by Panay, will now focus on three areas:

  • Deliver iconic experiences in Microsoft and illuminate both modern work and modern life.
  • Do business with Windows and Surface, deliver the best of Microsoft, and keep end users.
  • Lead the industry through innovation and technology so our partner ecosystem can thrive.

Microsoft’s focus on the growth of Windows and Surface bodes well for Windows users. Microsoft’s Surface business continues to grow in terms of revenue, and there are signs that companies are using their own PCs. A greater focus on Windows and Surface should hopefully allow Microsoft to deliver on its promises for a better combination of hardware and software.

Microsoft has been working on these design changes for years and is learning from past mistakes. As Panay takes on more responsibility for Windows, we hope for more consistency with Microsoft’s fluent design system across the operating system and for more reliability in the company’s monthly and yearly Windows updates. It’s time Windows got a little more love.

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