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Microsoft doubles down on its Android + Windows efforts in latest reorg

Microsoft Logo 2022
Microsoft Logo 2022 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is moving several key Android teams and products into a new org under Panos Panay.
  • The news was announced in a memo to employees earlier this week.
  • No layoffs are expected as a result of the reorg.

Microsoft is reorganizing several key teams and departments once again. Announced by Chief Product Officer (CPO) Panos Panay in a memo earlier this week, the company is moving its Surface Duo OS, SwiftKey, Phone Link, Microsoft Launcher, and a handful of other Android teams under a new dedicated Android org called "Android Microsoft Platform and Experiences" (AMPX.)

Previously, much of Microsoft's Android efforts such as SwiftKey and Microsoft Launcher were developed under the Microsoft Mobile Experiences (MMX) division, which also focuses on iOS and iPadOS products. This new dedicated Android division is designed to help the company double down on its Android offerings and really focus on the platform as a first party endeavour alongside Windows.

The short version of this story is that Microsoft is moving the bulk of its Android efforts into a new dedicated org under Panos Panay, similar to what the company did with Windows back in February 2020. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the reorg in a statement to Windows Central:

Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. We recently made an organizational change to accelerate our impact and better serve our customers and partners.

Sources tell me that Microsoft has big ideas in mind for Android and Windows over the next handful of years, including more advanced integrations between Android smartphones and Windows PCs beyond what's already available via the Phone Link app today. Microsoft wants to position Android smartphones as an extension to Windows PCs, with the goal of creating interoperable experiences similar to what can be had with an iPhone and Mac.

Along with the reorg comes new roles for several key players at the company. Shilpa Ranganathan is moving to a lead role in the Windows PM org, taking over from Linda Averett who is moving to a new team focusing on privacy, compliance, and security. Ali Akgun, previous CVP of Surface at Microsoft, is said to be leading the new AMPX group.

Finally, I hear CVP Michael Fortin is retiring, with his role being split up between several different leads in the Windows + Devices org. I also hear that there will be no layoffs as a result of the reorg. Overall, this reorg looks to be positioning Microsoft to better serve its products and experiences on Android in addition to enhancing the integration between Android smartphones and Windows PCs.

Just recently, Microsoft announced that it was rebranding the Your Phone app as "Phone Link" and expanded support for the "Apps" feature to Honor smartphones, which was previously exclusive to Samsung and Surface Duo devices. I'll be interested to see just how closely Microsoft can tie Android and Windows devices together in the future.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

54 Comments
  • As a Duo 2 owner, I approve these moves.
  • The Windows/WindowsPhone integrated experience was far superior to what the Windows/Android integrated experience is today. Here's hoping this change can make some improvement.
  • Of course. Microsoft had full control over both.
  • No it wasn't. Windows Phone apps sucked and basically no one used it.
  • The OP was talking about the integration between Windows Phone OS and Windows. Whether the apps on the phone were any good or not is a different discussion.
  • What integration? I saw no special integration on my Windows phones. Had much more integration on Android back then due to how much better the apps were, especially through the cloud. My computer and phone would both ring through Google Voice.
  • I had a Windows Phone, and I do not remember that there was that much integration with Windows. For example, I don't think I ever had my phone ring and pick up on my computer. Not that I am blaming Microsoft for that; it would be apples & oranges comparison between then and now since further advances are to be expected with time. Or maybe I simply wasn't aware of the things I could take advantage of on the WP platform
  • "Microsoft wants to position Android smartphones as an extension to Windows PCs, with the goal of creating interoperable experiences similar to what can be had with an iPhone and Mac." - Zac Guess this says it all. Look what iPhone + Mac can do and extrapolate that to Windows + Android. Speculation alert: Makes you wonder what Microsoft could really do if they develop their own Android fork. Guess that isn't on the cards (yet) Zac?
  • Not to my knowledge. But who knows what the future holds...
  • I doubt they would fork Android and loose access to the Play store. There likely isn't any need either. I've been waiting for MS to make this move. Hopefully they will be thinking of bring the MS Store to their Android efforts as well. If the idea and aspirations of Windows Phone, built on Android, comes to pass this announcement will likely be considered the true beginning of that effort. Some things I'd like to see from MS on Android
    * Windows Store
    * Flow Keyboard from WP8.1
    * Bing Maps app
    * MS Photos app
    * Deeping linking in apps
    * Infinite vertical scroll on home screen
    * Less expensive single screen surface phone
  • @Mikefarinha Windows phone built on Android? That ain't happening either. It won't be Windows phone it will another android phone which is a dime a dozen. As without embedding Google's Mobile Suit you ain't getting access to the Playstore.
  • You're probably right, but not because it would be just another android phone. Rather, because MS won't make the necessary long-term investment needed to differentiate itself. If you look at the Android landscape all Android variations are built buy hardware companies instead of software companies... except for Google's Pixel - which I think produces the best version of Android. These hardware companies don't have the expertise to truly differentiate themselves. It is both funny and sad that one of the main differentiators amongst Android devices is how long will it receive updates. I think that speaks to a hardware company's mentality rather than a software company's mentality. If MS were to make the necessary long-term investment and position Android as a core strategic product, I think they could recapture some of the magic that was WP. They just need to commit to the idea instead of toying with it.
  • Samsung does a fairly nice job of integrating samsung phone software with Samsung laptops. I love their free video editing software, and other apps that are free on its laptops.
  • Long term investment?
    Sorry to say in this regard it's decades. As ultimately Microsoft would have to rebuild android apps that scale for desktop use. Android apps do not scale beyond a tablet form factor. That literally throws the entire market and windows ecosystem that Microsoft has built up. As I said below, Microsoft will run in the wall of Google's tendrils and Microsoft's stupidity.
  • > Hopefully they will be thinking of bring the MS Store to their Android efforts as well.
    And MS can sell Android apps on PC and on Android. Great idea.
  • @b4rtw Forking android?
    that ain't happening unless Microsoft wants to throw everything out the window (that includes Xbox too as xbox is heavily tied into the windowe o/s and rightly so) and start from the bottom rung.
  • Isn't Microsoft already contributing to Android source code? So whatever changes or improvements that Microsoft added or modified to the source code that then approved, it will just applied to all Android devices and not just Microsoft own. What I want for Microsoft to contribute to Android is to support Android Nearby Share and Android Beam to Windows Nearby Share system. That will be a game changer and making file transfer and other device sync features more seamless and open to any Android devices. Even without the need for special Link to Windows. And also eliminate the need for dedicated Google Chrome to allow that.
  • Contributions to Source code and creating an o/s with Android apps at it's core is two separate things. Unfortunately, those who keep clamouring for android app support the latter is the natural progression route and that's a quick ticket to a dirt nap for Microsoft. As by creating scalable desktop apps they hand everything to Google on a platter. For the o/s to work from security standpoint you are looking heavily sandboxed containerisation. Beyond what we see in W11. Zero day exploits will exist as long there is code and Android is prolific a target for malware. The only way and only way that Microsoft can get out of this mess is Windows On Arm. In regards to features you mentioned that's doable to a certain extent - same WiFi network. Beyond that you run in to issues of exploits and security.
  • Update - remains to be seen how robust the Smart App Control is going to be - especially given a total O/S reinstall is required. Admittedly, it was added faster than I anticipated.
  • Closely tie Android and Windows?
    Microsoft are going to run to the immovable wall of Google's tendrils and Microsoft's stupidity.
  • MS has been able to do some pretty neat things with Edge now that it is built off of Chromium... There is potential.
  • Microsoft has potential as long as Google does the hard work?
  • Yet Chrome is run most on Windows and macOS. So now Microsoft and Apple are doing the hard work while Google just puts their browser on it? Buzz off.
  • The "Your Phone" app should win the 'Worst Name Ever' award for apps. Phone Link is infinitely better.
  • MS always has name issues. Whether they get it right or wrong the first time, they always change it. Amazing how a company so big and has been around so long can't hire the right people to pick the names right
  • Eh, by moving it into the Android unit they should also just rename it to Android Link, since it can't do anything remotely useful with an iPhone. While that's mostly Apple's fault for locking down their platform, MS should acknowledge that the app is entirely Android focused, especially now that it's been moved under the Android org. MS could also flex some of their legal and political muscle by trying to convince a court somewhere that Apple disallowing MS access to the same interoperability that Apple enjoys internally between iOS and macOS is anti-competitive, and that Apple should open up that functionality to others.
  • I agree, I also wish they change "Hey Cortana" to "Hey Bingo" It sound Cheesy, but, it will drive mindset and potentially traffic.
  • I want MS to improve Android as they have to Chromium edge. With a unique device they have the power to do this. However - they really need all MS services/applications on Android. I want Bing maps back as an app. I can't stand Google maps. I never use Google apps.
  • How has MS improved Chromium? Isn't it similar to how Amazon improved Elasticsearch?
  • Hmmm, I think MAPX is better.
  • This hints at, if not confirms, that Duo isn't yet canceled. At least for the foreseeable future. Of course, Android for Duo could be just current device support for the next few years, and might not guarantee there will be a Duo 3,4, etc... But, we have seen more evidence to support Duo is still a go than it being canceled, and this is definitely good evidence. Not that most believe that Duo will be canceled, but we all know there's always a chance, whether it be likely or not.
  • They would be iterating faster, not slower if they were serious. Canceling this years device is a good sign they don’t have faith in the form factor. Watch for it to come out late in the year they aren’t moving forward with Duo hardware at all. How do they justify it? It doesn’t sell well, it doesn’t review well, and what is the goal? If it is to sell Android hardware, a single screen will sell much better.
  • You gotta be an idiot. I wrote what I wrote because that's what I believe. Regardless of anything you say I stand by what I wrote, and nothing changes. You just wasted your time writing all that for nothing.
  • Zero forethought as usual. I asked a straightforward question, one you obviously have no answer for. How do they justify a form factor that has had extremely low sales (Duo 1 <50k, and Duo 2 can’t be any better)? Combined with terrible reviews, not just for software bugs, but the awkwardness of the form factor, how do they justify it? Then you ask what the point is? The only thing Microsoft really can gain here is hardware sales. Android isn’t their platform, and Duo, especially with the minuscule sales, isn’t driving O365 appreciably. What is the end goal here? These are straightforward questions that you refuse to answer. You don’t look at a thing but the logo on the back. If the Fold had a Surface logo, you wouldn’t even have looked at the Duo, same as you never payed any attention to the Axon M or LG.
  • " I asked a straightforward question, one you obviously have no answer for."
    Bleach, you have never sked a straight forward question that I am aware of EVER. You troll, your questions are mostly loaded and with your usual perverse opinion pandering.
    You don't have to see any good in MSFT product, a right that you have, but, stop pandering and pestering others with your doctrine. Before I forget, it is ok to disagree as well.
  • I don't care what asoyemi says. It brought a smile to my face to see Rodney and Beached going at it again. :)
  • Bleached. If I am not mistaken the Duo was released about 18 months ago. Fall of 2020. They hve released another device a few months ago. Also, duo 1 and 2 seem to be on the same OS level. Both android 11. Soon both will be on android 12L. once they get the OS that is optimized for the form factor, I would expect them to have a stable foundation from which to build. They are simply building the OS/Software/Rom foundtion.
  • You will be better served sharing tangible details and logical deduction with anyone else other than Bleach.
  • Bleached is more skeptical than most and MSFT has proved his point of view far more often than not. MSFT is enterprise focused not consumer focused. DO a ton of people us PC as a consumer? Have a ton of people found the PC useful post covid? Sure. Does that mean people will find the Duo useful? Not really. He does have a point when saying the Duo should see faster growth if the form factor is truly better. The software and hardware integration should sell itself in short order. I am arguing (and have done so since the Duo was released) that the integration will take longer and is more complicated than what Apple did with the iPhone or Google did with Android and the smartphone. So, it will take longer. But I am also wondering if the increase in utility of the Duo or Fold is worth the higher price. I want my business application (AppFolio) to be optimized for the Duo. If it is, then I would buy the Duo. The other stuff I can handel just fine with my oneplus.
  • Yet another reorg. Cast this news in whatever positive spin you like. But as anyone who has worked for a long time in a large company knows, reorgs mean that things are not going according to plan. Because if things ARE going well, products don’t get shifted around to new departments. “Previously, much of Microsoft's Android efforts such as SwiftKey and Microsoft Launcher were developed under the Microsoft Mobile Experiences (MMX) division, which also focuses on iOS and iPadOS products. “ Which also means that the iOS people can concentrate on products that ARE selling, and not be distracted with products that are not. If I was in the MMX division working on iOS, I would welcome this news.
  • Microsoft reorgs on average every 18 months and is part of their internal strategy to ensure every team is working on something that advances their larger strategic goals in some way. It has done this since I first worked there in 1999. They reorged in good times and bad, and had large and small ones. But they always happened. Amazon does this also.
  • So thus a lot of medium and large organizations
  • Explain to me how MSFT is selling tons of products in the iOS ecosystem? Are not all these apps free? MSFT does sell subscriptions to Office through various channels. iOS users would need a good app to use these services. so they build OneDrive and Office to work across iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows. MSFT does expect Android to be a major drive for services via mobile ecosystems. Do they hope they can sell more Duos as they improve the form factor? Yes MSFT makes its money in the cloud. Duo and its contribution to the Surface division is a rounding error on MSFT's P&L. But they still need to build Android capabilities. Is Office, and other apps designed for Duo easy to optimize on Fold? I would think so. So sure, the team must be rebuilt as the landscape changes. With the release of Android 12L (something that was in the development for the last 12 plus months when MSFT and Google announced the partnership tpo improve Android) MSFt needs to refocus its team.
  • "Explain to me how MSFT is selling tons of products in the iOS ecosystem? Are not all these apps free?"
    Do you remember an app called "Evernote" It died because on MS office on Android and iOS. MSFT is selling a boatload of Office 365 and OneDrive subscription and accessible on all kind devices and platforms.
    I am dumbfounded that you don't know this or understand it at all.
    It's like asking how is MSFT making money on with Cloud gaming on Android?
  • asoyemi, reading comprehension is good. you should try it. this is my third sentence. "MSFT does sell subscriptions to Office through various channels. iOS users would need a good app to use these services. so they build OneDrive and Office to work across iOS, OSX, Android, and Windows."
  • Sounds like a great move. Let's hope MS doesn't find a way to screw it up.
  • Maybe now we can get Movies & TV ported to android. And maybe that can lead to fixing it on windows as well.
  • Loved my ATIVE SE Windows Phone running 8.1, my Surface RT running 8.1, and my Dell Vostro running 8.1. So great. What year was that...the good ole days!
  • Fake. No one loved the Surface RT, especially anyone that actually waited the 5 minutes for it to boot.
  • No...not fake. My RT didn't take 5 minutes to load. Us teachers got them at an educational price to try out. I think it cost about $149 or so.
  • Lol, well I agree that love is a bit of an overstatement. It was slow but I was ok with that relative to the price when I bought it during the fire sale ones. The RT, windows 8 and windows phone 8 vision sold me on the one windows any device dream. The journey there has definitely had a lot of twists and turns but each year we get better device interoperability, features and innovations. Onedrive and m365 has been awesome for this dream.
  • Next time speak for yourself and not everyone by claiming "No one" I loved the RT and windows phones and apparently so does Darrel. So, if you don't know anyone at all that loves RT and WP, now you know 2 of them.
  • You're wasting your time if you're going to engage with "bleached." Ranting empty rhetoric is what he's good at. He speaks in absolutes, so maybe he's a Sith...well that would actually be cool, so that's definitely not it..lol. Reorganization in a company occurs for many reasons, one of which usually has to do with money. The fact that Panay is in charge of that division is another important development. I would agree with Rodneyej that it provides more or an insinuation that Duo isn't going away anytime soon. That doesn't mean it won't change in the way that it's being presented now. I guess only time will tell. I would be lying if I didn't say that "bleached" definitely keeps things entertaining. In the end it's pretty simple. If you like the Duo or Duo 2 you've more than likely purchased one like I have. MSFT has been providing software updates pretty regularly and with the price staying pretty much the same unlike the original Duo, I think the manufacturing and deployment was more calculated with Duo 2. The rebranding of "your phone" to "phone link" I think is to open up a more expansive role that your mobile device can play on a larger screen. In my honest opinion I can see MSFT launching a Duo 3 after working under the hood of Duo 2 with things like wireless charging, better notification capability when the device is closed, etc, that will ultimately bring something much like they did with the Surface Pro 3. I think that rendition will tell us if Duo is here to stay or not.
  • This is a good sign that MS isn't ready to back out of Android. I hope their hardware division pulls it together for another Duo release. I enjoy the form factor but it's lacking in too many other areas for it to compete against the likes of Samsung and Apple. Boost the cameras (MS once lead smartphone cameras after buying Nokia) and make the launcher better for dual-screen/folding devices. It needs at least a three lens system for the camera, something that doesn't look like a media phone from 2008. I would love for the Duo 3 to really compete with the likes of the Galaxy Fold 4 when it comes out.