A recent news story in The Register boldly proclaimed that Microsoft is planning an exit from the Surface business as soon as 2019 — a claim that the publications backed up by speculation from Canalys CEO Steve Brazier and Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo. Essentially, both executives argued that the business isn't profitable for Microsoft, so they would expect Microsoft to make an exit.
We expressed our own reservations at the time, and now Microsoft's Surface boss, Panos Panay, has chimed in to say the Surface business isn't going anywhere. In a statement to Business Insider, Panay says that a Surface exit is "so far from the truth," calling it the "tabloid rumor of the week." From Business Insider:
Microsoft isn't running for the exits, Panay said. Instead, the company is in hardware for the long haul, and Surface isn't going anywhere, he said.
In part that's because for Microsoft the Surface business is more important than selling hardware, he said. Improvements Microsoft has made to the Surface devices have often led to similar improvements across the entire PC market, he said. For example, as Microsoft has improved the speed and accuracy of its stylus, Surface Pen, that code has made its way back into Windows 10, improving the experience of using a stylus on PCs from other manufacturers.
An example of Microsoft's focus on the long-term can be seen in its troubles with Surface RT. After the device flopped hard, ending in a $900 million write off for unsold inventory, Microsoft just kept moving forward. "There was no loss of confidence," Panay told Business Insider. "There was a real belief in how we can change the world."