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Microsoft's Head of Industrial Design for Surface now also heading design team for Windows

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HP Elite Dragonfly Review Display (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Ralf Groene is the corporate vice president of Design Windows and Devices at Microsoft.
  • Groene's new role started in March, but he only updated his LinkedIn profile recently.
  • Groene's new role lines up with Panos Panay becoming the leader of Windows and devices at Microsoft.

Microsoft's Ralf Groene recently shared that he is now the corporate vice president (CVP) of Design Windows and Devices at Microsoft. Groene has a long history at Microsoft, including heading the industrial design team for Microsoft devices from 2015. Groene's new role as CVP Design Windows and Devices includes designing Windows as well as the Microsoft on Android experience. In his new role, he continues to head the design of Microsoft hardware. Groene's LinkedIn profile (opens in new tab) states that he began his new role in March 2020, but he didn't update his profile until earlier this week.

Groene is the lead designer of Microsoft's Surface line and has been involved with several design choices that have been well received. His expanded role including the design of Windows could help end some of the frustrations people have expressed regarding the inconsistent design of Windows 10.

Ralf Groene Microsoft Job

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Groene's new role began in March according to his profile, which lines up with Panos Panay becoming the leader of the Devices + Windows team. That change reportedly was part of a larger reorganization which took effect in Spring.

While it's unclear what role Groene has played in the design of Windows at this point, there does seem to be a shift regarding UI design and Windows at Microsoft. Panay being placed in charge of Windows, along with Groene's new role, could iron out inconsistencies in the operating system and improve the user interface. Panay teased a new Windows 10 UI earlier this year and Microsoft confirmed last month that some elements of Windows 10X will come to Windows 10. We'll have to wait and see to find out what Microsoft has in plan for the future of Windows.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

11 Comments
  • Now let's send hopes and prayers to him so that they can get a consistent Windows 10 & 10X design.
  • Fingers crossed. Windows 10 started off great in 2015 and started going downhill 36 months later. Still waiting for them to finish tablet experience after 5 years. And the live tiles need a lot more love and granular personalization options at the end user control not the developer. Don't understand why Microsoft wants to control the live tile personalization so tightly. It's exhausting.
  • I think it's a delicate balance between maintaining some form of coherence and total chaos. Agreed that Windows 10 is not the most consistent Windows version aesthetically (I think Windows 7 is), but this is a result of mixing the legacy, professional grade interface with modern, consumer level interface on a single very powerful platform, supporting next generation form factors. I personally think it is futile trying to achieve global aesthetic uniformity in Windows 10 Pro, also not worth the effort in my opinion. Take Control Panel vs. Settings for example - two completely different design languages, serving two different eras of computing devices, but both essential to keep the machines working. They have tried to move more frequently used settings into the scalable, touch friendly modern interface, and left the more advanced, less frequently used options in the legacy interface. The modern, simplified, touch interface is not suited to dense, advanced tasks, where you need tons of options, tabs, checkboxes, menus etc. (just take any professional grade CAD tool as an example, or even Adobe Photoshop), but these are essential parts of a true pro-grade OS compared to a mobile type, more consumer-grade OS with much less features and options. I think they have done a decent job so far trying to balance both generations in Win 10 Pro (can be better obviously, but not by too much I think).
    For those looking for complete UI consistency and coherence, that properly supports modern touch devices and form factors, you are better off with Windows 10X (when that eventually ships) - but don't expect the depth and complexity of a pro-grade OS in that case. The touch interface is inherently a relatively light-weight design language.
  • Hopefully we can finally theme the new parts of windows like we could have with mstyles.
  • Not a moment too soon.
  • "soon". All too familiar. Sigh.
  • Finally, maybe they will take the design seriously!!!! *tears of joy*
  • Fingers crossed, but not holding my breath this time.
  • IMO app design inconsistency is the main issue not so much the OS itself.
  • Agree. Design. And not enough design control for the end user. Personalization I think Microsoft is still curating too much. More personalization options for the end user is missing in my view. Too much is under control on the developer side.
  • It's inevitable in a nearly all-embracing powerful OS that attempts to merge all generations of design interfaces and applications - legacy, modern/touch, inking etc., while also actively supporting apps from each of these generations in use all over the world everyday from high-tech enterprise to school kids. It is not a trivial task to come up with a consistent design framework that satisfies all these needs simultaneously without looking like a glued-together machine of incoherent parts - I actually think it may not even be a realistic objective. I personally think they have done a 'decent' job given the enormity of the task. Could be better for sure, but a single platform can only serve so many functional purposes at once and still look slick and homogenous.