Panos Panay teases 'next generation of Windows' is coming in fireside chat at Ignite 2021

Panos Panay
Panos Panay (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Panos Panay has teased that the "next generation of Windows" is coming.
  • The tease happened during a fireside chat with Roanne Sones at Ignite 2021
  • Panay's comments suggest there's big Windows announcements on the way.

In a fireside chat (opens in new tab) with Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay and Corporate VP & Product Manager, Roanne Sones, Panay briefly talks about Windows and the future of the platform, teasing that he's pumped about what's coming next but that Microsoft is not ready to talk about it just yet.

In the 15 minute one-on-one, Panay and Sones answer questions presented to them in the style of a WIRED auto-complete interview powered by Bing. The last question poised to Panay is "What is the question Panos gets asked the most?" Sones says it must be "Why?" in regards to Windows, and Panay responds with the following:

Windows is such an important platform, for connecting people, helping people be as productive as they possibly can be. It is the heart beat right now of what is modern work. It really is, just take a step back. But it's also the heart beat of what we do every day in our lives. It's familiar, it's intuitive, it adapts to you. These are really important elements.This is a product right now that more than a billion people all over the world are relying on every day, to work, to learn ... and ultimately to create. And that's what this is about, how we continue to see where technology can take us versus what it does for us today and where is it that we will be and how can technology be there for you, Windows is the core of that.It's there to light up Microsoft 365 experiences, it's there to light up the devices for OEMs, but most importantly like we talked about it's there for people to connect, create, and ultimately be productive as they need to. We have new features coming—here I got to tell you this—look and I haven't talked about the next generation of Windows and what's coming next, but I can tell you I am so pumped. We're not talking about that today."... because we have so much right now, we talked about the depth of features and the breadth of what Windows can bring for each of you for IT Pros ... I know that the future of Windows is incredible, what we're bringing to the table for sure. But ultimately we're here today to talk about Windows 10 and what Windows 10 brings to the table, and how we can support our customers and partners here at Ignite.

It's interesting to see Panay refer to the future of the product as "the next generation," which could imply that big changes are on the horizon for the platform.

We already know that Microsoft is working on a big Windows update codenamed Sun Valley that is expected to launch at the end of this year. Panay took charge of Windows' client experiences in February 2020, and it's beginning to look like he has some big plans for the platform this year.

Microsoft is also expected to launch Windows 10X this year, a new version of Windows built on a modern core and designed for PCs in the education and enterprise sector. It'll be interesting to see how 10X fits into the rest of the Windows ecosystem, and how it evolves to maybe one day become the new default version of Windows for most people.

Panay's comments confirm that Microsoft is planning to talk more about Windows later this year. The question now is where and when will those announcements take place? Rumors suggest a dedicated Windows press event is on the cards, but there's no indication as to when that'll be happening just yet.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on Panay's comments about Windows? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • ‘Fireside chats’ are dumb. They’re just lazy marketing.
  • Especially in a world with Covid.
  • Yeah, we should do more stadium-filling events.
  • I almost flipped because I thought it was going to say next generation of Windows phones. God, I miss Windows phones. It's a pity that it never got the app support that it deserved
  • Surface Duo is modern Windows Phone.
  • Surface duo is a another android phone, that already or soon never get android upgrade.
  • Android is updated in the background through Google Play Services. Even if Microsoft abandons the Duo tomorrow, it will be supported by Google for several years, longer than any Windows phone or iPhone.
  • No it will not, MS customized Android for Duo. Just like a lot of other phone makers, such as Samsung, make customizations (basically a separate product). However, MIS is supposed to be working on Android 11 support for the Duo. They are also hiring for Duo 2. So, there is a longer term commitment so far which is encouraging.
    Hopefully they learn to speed up testing new versions of Android.
  • Bleach here is bit confusingly referring to updates of apps (in contrary to OS or security updates). You are correct though in that update support wise it looks quite encouraging for the Duo.
  • No, OS features, APIs, and even some security updates come through Play Services. They will be supported for several years in this way.
  • That’s not at all how Android works. Google Play Services is probably the most important thing in it, alongside security updates. It doesn’t matter how much Microsoft had customized the Duo, it Play Services, so it will be supported for years.
  • Iirc they will get 3 years of updates (OS and security). Granted, that it is above average for Android though some brands like Samsung Galaxy get longer security updates (/4 years).
  • Those of us who have one are waiting for the first OS update.
  • You can thank Google for that. Microsoft offered to shoulder the entire cost and support of Google Services (G-Mail, Maps, YouTube, Music, etc.) for Windows Phone if Google would ALLOW their WP-native programs to access the Official Google APIs for those apps.
    Google had one condition that Microsoft would never agree to: Make Google Search the Default Search Engine across the entire Windows Phone system (just like in Android and iOS (which Google pays Apple over $2 Billion/year to maintain.))
    Microsoft was determined to feature BING as the search engine across the entire Windows Phone system, so they declined. Google sued to make MS drop the existing MS-written Google apps (remember when Windows Phone launched they had a MUCH better YouTube app than Google's Android version) and that doomed Windows Phone to a slow death.
    ALL the reviewers trashed the Windows Phone for not having NATIVE Google Search, Maps, YouTube, G-Mail, etc. apps even though many loved the GUI and how smooth everything integrated. Since the tech reviewers (looking at YOU Engadget) lived and breathed in the native Google apps (which, remember, Google PAID Apple to support in iOS) they declared Windows Phone Unworkable and Unusable (for them anyway.) There was no way around it for MS, even though there were, in many cased far superior 3rd party versions of those same Google apps. They could not be installed by default, and the Windows Phone Store was a complete mess.
    Then came the debacle of moving from the excellent, highly integrated and slick WP 8.1 to the horribly broken WP 10, which broke almost ALL of the slick integration of native WP services.
    It was doomed from that point onward and the rest is history with Nadela killing it instead of pouring good money after bad.
  • Google has just little impact. In China, there is zero google, wp still failed.
  • Google does over $3 Billion/year business in China.
    Google search, mail, ads, and YouTube are blocked (Baidu is the default search engine) but they still make a lot of money in China in other ways.
    Most Chinese phone manufacturers still use the open-source version of Google's Android, with native Chinese apps to replace the default Google ones.
    The Chinese Firewall blocks were not put in place until 2014 at the earliest, and by that time, WP was already pretty much dead due to the lack of Google apps and the OS debacle of WP10, with it being finally axed by Nadela in 2015.
    With a market that large (by FAR the biggest cellphone market in the world) and the full financial and political support of the Chinese government, they don't miss Google one bit, but that is not what I was talking about.
    I was talking about the success of Windows Phone everyplace else in the world (especially in the US and EU) from it's introduction in 2009 until it's untimely death in 2015.
  • It was already over when WP8.1 was released. It was way too late. WP7 was Microsoft's chance and it was a huge failure.
  • Thank you Khaaannn. So search played a pretty big piece. Didn't know that.....
  • I second that Danny!
  • I miss it, too!
  • Nadella doomed Windows Phone.
  • Keep telling yourself that and not, say, the fact no one bought the phones and there was little chance of it competing against Android. WP was fun and it had its moments. People stopped buying them after 2015 and Windows 10 Mobile (under Myerson, not Nadella) failed to convince people it was better than what Google and Apple were doing. That's the reality. The idea that WP was doing well and Microsoft canceled something that was making money is a pure fantasy by delusional fans who are still whinging about it in 2021. It's just getting sad.
  • Let's be honest, it did not do well. But. How much Microsoft pays per Office installation on the phone? How much Google pays to Apple for default search (and Microsoft can't even get it)? Not to mention other apps like Skype etc. What would be the revenue of Microsoft Store? Even if it was just 10% of the App Store and let's be honest it would be that much if Microsoft just kept things going. So I am quite confident that Microsoft was loosing money on the hardware. And probably it never had any perspective to earn the money there. But no you can't persuade me that those facts above are not true and that overall phone business had no sense for Microsoft. You can only answer whether you try to cover some very rookie moves by Nadella (like OEMs will pick up the production or we can cut the mobile specific development cost to 0 in Windows 10 and produce s.h.i.t. and it will sell) or you simply ignore the facts.
  • 10% of the app store? There was zero chance of that. The devices weren't selling at all, especially anything even remotely high-end. It was a giant boondoggle.
  • If you prefer 10% of Google Play, it is similar number. Yes they had 10% of share of Android and Android isn't known for the dominance of high-end devices either.
  • It isn't about the same number, not even close. The App Store revenue is about double that of the Play Store. That said, I doubt the MS store could even get to 10% of the Play Store revenues.
  • "So I am quite confident that Microsoft was loosing money on the hardware." For most of Windows Mobile/Windows Phone, MS wasn't loosing anything on the hardware. They didn't build the phones. Nokia, Samsung, LG and others did. They eventually bought Nokia (phone part) and produced a few MS branded devices.
  • That is somewhat good point, but they did offset Nokia loses by subsidies, so in some way you may count all Lumia phones as a Microsoft investment.
  • Daniel, Windows Phone was not marketed well and not supported well under Nadella.
  • It was already dead when Nadella took over. He just put it out of it's misery. They had no chance of growing at that point.
  • It had a stable presence and was even slowly growing. Obviously hardware was not profitable as discussed above not to repeat what I have told. It was not worse than Xbox at some points. Probably it was not even worse than Azure in some points. Just Ballmer was brave not to pull the plug while Nadella was not. That is the only difference. If Google pulled all Android engineers and expected something nice to happen, even with the current position it would quickly deteriorate.
  • Yeah I do agree with you there, WP could have had a big market share in for example Europe. In countries such as Italy and UK they did well. But most importantly it would have helped with modern apps combined with Surface devices, so in that regard it was a short sighted move of Nadella in my opinion. Just reducing the devices eg a budget and midrange one would have been smarter I think.
  • It was not growing, it was slowly shrinking after they peaked with the 520. WM10 devices did not sell at all.
  • Nadella is on record saying he did not support the purchase of Nokia. Within Microsoft, there is always a disconnect between making hardware and earning a low margin versus making software and earning a high margin. Nadella is Azure and he will always prefer the high margin software-based solutions at Microsoft. But he will support the Windows ecosystem and if that means the Surface team, then so be it. But Nadella was not going to spend $ Billions on a losing product line to support the Windows ecosystem. Nedella bet big on LinkedIn. Let's see if that investment pays off. A significant portion of his compensation is tied to the performance of LinkedIn. So his success at MSFT will be based on the performance of LinkedIn.
  • One can say UWP failed WP!!! Among other things!
  • Windows phone was doing well in some countries, outperforming Apple even. Then Microsoft decided to scrap it and start fresh with a new windows phone, some people (developers included) kept going, some figured "what's the point" and moved on. If Microsoft couldn't even show appreciation for the product they created, why would anyone else risk sticking around only to be burned again? Sure other phone brands update their software but none have dropped a new version that just said F You to everyone who was in the ecosystem. And there definitely wasn't anyone else that did it THREE EFFING TIMES.
  • Yes, MSFT was foolish to wipe the slate clean and start fresh 3 times on Windows Phone. But I think it might have been 4. But I think the reason was the effort to unify mobile with desktop. I also think Windows needed to restructure the OS to stay relevant in the enterprise. This meant significant changes and the WP 8 could not move forward.
  • Do you always have to be so aggressive?
  • Absolutely correct. Also, remember that WP was a rat-hole devouring money at a frightening pace, yet Microsoft made (and still does make) money off of every single Android phone sold due to licensing of MS Patents used in it.
    I have heard figures of up to $5/phone straight into Microsoft's profit margin with no costs by them AT ALL. With tens of millions of Android phones sold every year, that is a pretty nice profit center.
    Comparing that to the millions of $$$ they were losing on WP ever year was a pretty easy decision for Nadella to make to kill it off, and the correct one.
    I loved WP, but face it, it failed spectacularly due to many missteps, circumstances, and bad decisions.
    Move on people. It's 2021. Tech changes, deal with it.
  • I still preferred the UI on a windows phone over Android. I don't like the iPhone. But I never lived in the iPhone ecosystem, so it would be difficult for me to ever like iOS.
  • Microsoft market cap: $1.76 T
  • Yes, Nadella give it up way to easily.
  • Hopefully, he will arrange an 'apple-scale' media session for the NEXT generation fo Windows... I feel like Windows need something like that in order to feel exciting again.
  • Wow, is he referring to a completely consistent interface? Indeed that would be exciting!!!
  • At very least, make it so not ugly like current.
  • Boy, that's a serious stretch of the imagination to conclude from "next-generation". They ditch fantastic tablet/touch-friendly OS like Windows 8/8.1 for Windows 10 and spend the next 5 years polishing the **** that Windows 10 is. Let's get excited! Next-generation is coming!
  • Fantastic? You mean widely hated?
  • Windows 8 was widely hated, and because of that the vast majority of people were too stupid to give Windows 8.1 a go. However it (Windows 8.1) was hands down the best touch operating system, the competition wasn't even close.
  • Windows 8.1 was good touch OS. The problem is people don't live in the OS and Windows applications weren't then, and still aren't, touch friendly/optimized/aware or what ever you want to call it. So you had this Frankenstein touch OS, managing keyboard and mouse applications. If you put it on a tablet, the applications were awkward. If you put it on a desktop, the touch based OS was awkward. Win 10 fixes some of that with the dual tablet/desktop modes that are selectable. I keep my desktop as desktop. I keep my Surface Go locked to tablet and can get away with that because there are enough 'Store' apps that meet my needs and are at least touch aware. The problem is they didn't carry enough of 8.1 forward in the tablet interface of Win 10.
  • Yeah, I can understand that. When I was running Windows 8.1 I was predominently running it as a desktop os so I was using a keyboard and mouse which means the lack of dedicated touch applications wasn't an issue, but when I wanted to just take the tablet and watch a movie or play a game on the train or whatever, I found that to be a much easier experience than Windows 10. That being said, I haven't given touch Windows 10 a chance in a while so it may have improved in the last year or so. That being said my two favourite features had nothing to do with touch, it was the search function and OneDrive implementation. OneDrive has improved now but I still don't think search in Windows 10 is as good as 8/8.1
  • I believe PowerToys has an improved/advanced search tool. What I think also really helps with the Windows build-in search is to remove some 'excluded folders for indexing' (found under Search options). As for W10 touch, it has improved a bit but not all that much. Action panel is better since it has a brightness slider. The onscreen keyboard seems to be slightly better now too (in MS and UWP apps that is, otherwise it tends to bug out now and than, especially with taksbar on autohide).
    I do find Timeline to be kind of nice on a tablet since it has nice big buttons basically though it is not so advanced (just simple way to find back earlier used files or programs).
  • One or two cool gestures don't make an operating system. The rest of Windows 8 was an absolute nightmare on tablets and desktops.
  • They call series X/S next generation when it runs the same OS.
  • That's because they are specifically referring to the hardware generation and the features it supports.
  • If I buy the most expensive hardware and install 21H1, can I claim the next generation Windows then. No. Xbox X/S is still Xbox One 3.0 or 3.3 in console terms
  • Its the next gen console, not next gen operating system. Iphone 13 will be the next gen Iphone, even though it'll use the same OS as iPhone 12.
    On PC we have a more organic system, so theres no generation.
  • Windows 10 is great. I don't see what you're complaining about. I wish the tablet UI was better - that's the only thing about the OS that is genuinely crappy. This "next generation" seriously tries to address that. That's a good thing. Not a thing that should get you to expend effort to slip swear words through the filter in the comments at Windows Central.
  • They have a tall order to prove the Next Generation is not the last generation reheated. Maybe it will be worthy but they have used up all the grace due so they will have to earn it.
  • This guy is lazy.
  • All he does is eat chips and watch Netflix. In bed.
  • Panos talks about the future of Windows and people start talking about Windows Phone. Interesting.
  • Religions die hard.
  • But Windows Phone died pretty easily. Microsoft's market cap has gone up by more than 350% since then!
  • Articles like this are funny, it's like we are supposed to be surprised when a spokesperson for a company talks up their next project. I mean, no ****, they're not going to say what they are working on is a boring piece of crap that doesn't deserve the time of day. All companies are like this and yeah, I just find it hilarious.
  • Yeah, it's pretty clear they had nothing of any significance to say about Windows until some exec said "We should say something, anything." We got anything.
  • Perhaps you voted for Trump or Brexit because you didn't think to research the subject before commenting. 2021 will be a big year for the Windows platform.
  • Even if they continue to lose market share to Chrome?
  • No thanks. Sounds like some BS 365 cloud features.
  • Wholeheartedly agree. Personally I'd like all my devices apocalypse-ready.
  • Microsoft needs to understand that there is a population of users who are NOT interested in having every device in their environment linked to every service or app available on the Internet. This interconnection mania has led to a bloated OS that is increasingly complicated and requiring more device resources to be fast and efficient. The news that Microsoft is eliminating the 3D app in Windows 10 is just one example of bloatware the virtually no one wanted that finally will be expunged from the OS.
    If Microsoft wanted to be forward-thinking, they should concentrate on developing Windows to install with the absolute minimum number of services required to get online. Full stop. Then let the user decide what they want to activate to make use of other apps and/or services.
  • The 3D builder/viewer is quite handy actually, quite a bit of people work in 3D modeling fields or 3D printing or such. It is like saying all Photo/Paint/Paint3D apps (note I said 'all') should be removed from W10. 2D and 3D are both important and should definitely be visible in a laptop/desktop OS. "This interconnection mania has led to a bloated OS that is increasingly complicated and requiring more device resources to be fast and efficient.", not anymore than it was. W10 is quite fast actually. Whatever the case, there are going to bring back profiles that mostly grants what you wish.
  • That's quite clearly just not true at all, good riddance to 3D Builder.
  • No one in the 3D modelling field uses Windows 10's 3D Builder, because none of Windows 10 core apps are business grade but consumer or prosumer grade.
  • Actually it's you who needs to understand not Microsoft. Their software is used by millions, we are merely one. If you think Internet services aren't central to every operating system you're not living in the modern world. Actually it's Windows aggressive compatibility layer that's led to Windows bloat, not web services.
  • I'm tired of lacklustre of Windows announcements.
  • Did you actually read the announcement though? This is big.
  • He gave no specifics. We have not idea what is big about it if anything beyond his marketing jargon.
  • It’s all about the new Windows 11
  • Looking for the Outlook Desktop App rewrite too. Long overdue.
  • Currently windows "10" is at 6.6.3. Not even close to 7.x.x. Those two big updates may being it to 6.8.x (based on my feature release tracking since 6.4.2 - the original release). I rarely even use Windows (gnu/linux all the way), if only to mess around with games that aren't explicitly cross-platform (they are explicitly designed just for one platform). For now, windows lives on a second physical disk. It's not my primary operating system at all, however I have zero problem with what others choose to use.