While some investors have looked at Microsoft's hardware ambitions with a skeptical eye as its fortunes in "the cloud" have grown, Surface Chief Panos Panay maintains that hardware remains central to the company's mission. "It's not just a core part of our strategy and at the centre of Microsoft, it's also a core part of how we build products at Microsoft," said Panay in an interview with The Independent.
He went on to add that the Surface family of products is here to stay, and there's no plan to spin the business off or shutter it (as we've heard from previous reports), again referring to it as a "core" business for Microsoft.
"I think if you asked me five years ago, we were still learning," Panay added. "We were still trying to figure out what hardware should do to bring software to life. But now it's not just a core part of the strategy."
Even though Microsoft has found success with its consumer-market Xbox consoles, it's easy to see why investors would be skeptical of a long-term commitment in the PC space. After all, Microsoft wasted billions on its Nokia hardware and services acquisition and squandered any chances of [again] becoming a major player in the smartphone market. But Panay says that its past missteps will only strengthen its future efforts in hardware.
"We can take those product lessons and customer lessons and move them forward," Panay continued. "When you fail, you are in a true learning mode. You are in a tremendous growth phase. And this is something we take to heart."
As for what we'll see in the future, you can definitely expect for the Surface family to continue expanding. We've already seen the addition of AI-infused Surface Headphones, but Panay wants to go further with "completing an experience" for consumers, which basically translates into melding Microsoft software and hardware together (think Apple):
So will you see new form factors that can do that, or need to do that? The answer is absolutely. And that's how it kind of comes together. For me, work and home equals life, whether the device is in the kitchen at home, in the home office, in your work office or on your body. They're coming together. So yeah, you'll see more products that focus on where our customers are going to be.
We suggest that you take a look at the full interview (source link below) for more commentary from Panos Panay and his approach to hardware at Microsoft. The future of Surface at Microsoft appears to be bright, but we're still waiting to hear more about the rumored dual-display Surface mobile device...