Surface Chief Panos Panay Debunks Microsoft Hardware Exit Speculation As Pure Tabloid Rumor

Panos Panay with Surface Laptop
We've always been impressed with Microsoft's Surface family of products (well, if you discount Surface RT). Products like the Surface Pro -- which HotHardware reviewed earlier this morning -- have excellent build quality, stellar performance and excellent battery life. However, there have been rumors floating around that Microsoft has grown tired of the Surface family, and could soon be looking to bail entirely from first-party computing hardware.

Microsoft Surface Chief Panos Panay is looking to throw some cold water on the hot Surface rumors, telling Business Insider that "It's so far from the truth". He also went on to claim that recent comments made by those in the PC industry are simply the "tabloid rumor of the week". 

Panay contends that the Surface family serves a key role in the evolution of PC hardware, and that design innovations that Microsoft pioneered have been adopted across the PC market by other manufacturers. According to Panay, Microsoft wants to continue to push the industry further, and devices like the Surface Studio and Surface Pro are great catalysts.

surface pro 1

"There was no loss of confidence," added Panay in relation to its initial troubles with Surface. "There was a real belief in how we can change the world."

Nearly a week ago, a few of Microsoft's OEM PC partners and analysts begin seeding rumors that the company could exit the market before the turn of the decade. “The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money," said Canalys CEO Steve Brazier. "It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business."

Surface Book i7

Lenovo Chief Operating Officer Gianfranco Lanci concluded that Microsoft would call it quits as soon as next year. “Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices," said Lanci. "For them it is a very difficult exercise to run hardware products business, they need to be careful about every single detail as the margin on this is so thin.”

It's easy to see why some would feel that Microsoft just doesn't have the stomach for continuing to lose money on hardware. After all, the company abandoned its Lumia smartphone hardware. Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Joe Belfiore confirmed via Twitter this week that Windows 10 Mobile is dead and that even he has switched from Lumia hardware to an Android smartphone for personal use (echoing a move by Bill Gates).

surface studio 5 1

And even when talking strictly about Surface, Microsoft hasn't exactly been on a rapid-fire schedule when it comes to upgrading the hardware inside its products. The Surface Studio and Surface Book are still using Intel Skylake processors and haven't yet adopted NVIDIA Pascal graphics architecture (even though Pascal has been around for over a year). However, we're hopeful that Microsoft might at least refresh the Surface Book soon with 8th generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors.

Microsoft has also faced negative press from Consumer Reports, which blasted the company with lower than industry average reliability ratings. This prompted the publication to remove its recommendations for the Surface family.

Despite these bumps in the road, it appears that Microsoft remains committed to Surface... for now.


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