Internal memo sheds light on the future of Windows and Surface without Panos Panay

Surface Pro X front
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft will hold a special event tomorrow, September 21, 2023, that focuses on Surface and AI.
  • The event, which has been on the calendar for months, is especially noteworthy because Panos Panay announced his departure from Microsoft recently.
  • An internal memo from Yusuf Mehdi, who will take over parts of Panay's responsibilities, sheds light on Microsoft's plans for Windows and AI.

Microsoft will hold a special event tomorrow in New York City. While the presentation will not be livestreamed, we'll be there to blog everything as it happens. Based on our own reporting, separate leaks, and hints by Microsoft, Windows and AI were already expected to be the main focuses of the event. Now, an internal memo from Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi, which was reported on by the Verge, shares more information about the company's plans.

Mehdi is a well-known name for those who follow Microsoft, but he'll be even more in the spotlight this week and going forward. He, along with Mikhail Parakhin, will take over for Panos Panay, who has been in charge of Windows and Surface for years. Panay announced his plans to leave Microsoft just two days before the special Surface and AI event.

Mehdi's memo praised Panay as a "champion of our consumer business and our engineering teams" and discussed Microsoft's upcoming event and how AI will be a big part of the company's plans.

“We have innovated on and shipped this incredible technology inside of Edge and Bing. Microsoft 365, and most notably, Windows Copilot — all on new Windows 11 PCs from Surface to our valued OEM partners,” said Mehdi. “This Thursday at our event in NYC, we’ll share the next step we’ll take to further build on this work and lead in this exciting new era. I will keep the news of this event confidential until we tell the world later this week, but it will lay out the vision for what’s ahead.”

Windows Copilot

Windows Copilot is part of Microsoft's ever-growing efforts to bring AI to consumers and businesses. (Image credit: Windows Central)

In the memo, Mehdi also discussed how Pavan Davuluri's efforts relating to Surface, silicon, and devices will be vital to the company.

"This is our chance to leap ahead and change the very game of how devices and systems operate,” said Mehdi. “Our vision here has been clearly communicated with our most valuable partners and met with overwhelming enthusiasm."

Mehdi also talked about the importance of Mikhail Parakhin.

"By bringing together Windows, Web, and Services into one team under Mikhail Parakhin, we give ourselves the opportunity to reimagine our software offering and the consumer experience in an Al and Copilot-first world," said Mehdi.

“We are leading in this area, and I believe the pace and rate of change that will happen with these teams coming together into one organization will be an amazing opportunity to differentiate and deliver value in a way no one is doing today.”

The Verge referred to Parakhin as "the real leader of Windows" in its piece about the memo. The report explained that Mehdi will be the "public face of Windows," but that Mehdi will not manage the team that creates the Windows experience.

With the news of Panay's departure being so recent, it will take some time for the future of Windows and Surface to become clear. Based on Mehdi's memo, it seems AI will continue to grow as a focus of Microsoft. That's hardly surprising, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said AI will be infused with all of the company's services.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • mech1164
    "What's ahead", I'll tell you what's ahead. The inevitable closure of all hardware made by Microsoft that's what's ahead. Panos was just the next shoe to drop. Satya has had an obsession with closing all the hardware division. First victim was Windows Mobile, next was the Brick and Mortar Stores. Now the actual person that pushed much of what made the Hardware division shine is gone. Oh almost forgot to mention the gutting of said hardware division by Satya.

    So please spare me what's ahead by this empty suit of a yes man. No one wants to hear it anymore.
  • Iamdumbguy
    I want a single example of what UI is going to do for Windows that isn't "write a sentence for me" or "create a picture for me".