Despite a rough start, there's no denying that Microsoft's Surface line has managed to strike a chord since its introduction in 2012, helping lend a "cool" factor to a company that had largely ceded that ground to Apple over the preceding decade. Devices like the Surface Studio 2 and Surface Pro 6 exhibit a pull for creatives, professionals, and everyone in between.
And it doesn't look like Microsoft is planning to slow down any time soon. In a new interview with the Independent, Panos Panay, Microsoft's Chief Product Officer and the driving force behind Surface, remains bullish on the future of the line, the company as a whole, and hints at new form factors to come in the future.
Panay says hardware is now a "core part" of Microsoft's strategy and how it builds products. Responding to a question about whether Surface is "there for the long run," Panay says the company is all-in:
Without hesitation. I think if you asked me five years ago, we were still learning. 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.
Of course, the shadow looming over Microsoft's hardware efforts is the failed phone business. But Panay says there were lessons to be learned from that failure, and it's taking them in stride moving forward:
Lumia, of course, was a challenge. We can take those product lessons and customer lessons and move them forward. I think we have. Satya [Nadella, Microsoft CEO] talks about the growth mindset, about how we can learn as fast as we can through our successes and, mainly, our failures. 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.
Without getting into specifics, Panay also hints at potential new hardware categories the company could tackle in the future:
Are we completing experiences for people at work and at home? The answer is yes. 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.
Finally, Panay addressed Microsoft's newfound spot as the most valuable company in the world, saying "there's a bit of a cool factor."
I'll be honest with you, it feels good. But it's also quite humbling. We believe we're making a difference. We have a team and a company that is inspired. And we're not slowing down. I feel that as a company, we're just hitting our stride in a big way. We'll keep pushing.
Thanks to Ken for the tip!