I was incredibly privileged to meet the Microsoft Surface team last week in Redmond at the annual MVP Summit. A person that really stood out was Panos Panay – the head of Microsoft Surface. He featured in the video below that I recently posted (design story).
Panos Panay is certainly an interesting character. He was a captivating and formidable presenter.
The inside word at MS is that his alternate career path was as a professional gambler. And maybe that’s not far apart from being the head of Microsoft Surface.
Personally I couldn’t stop comparing Panos to Ben Stiller’s magician in Arrested Development – “Tony Wonder.”
See what you think:
Maybe you had to be there… And watch the show… Crickets…
What I was impressed with is how engaged the folks at Surface were. We met with Panos Panay and Brian Hall. Both made themselves readily available for direct questions and discussions, despite their seniority and importance at Microsoft. There is little doubt to me that these guys are the future of Microsoft, but there they were, talking and engaging with 150 MVPs – 10 Surface MVPs and 1 Tablet and Touch MVP – me).
In the group session I asked Panos for his thoughts on the Wacom Pen in Surface Pro. “Is it just an after-thought? Or is it an integral part of the experience?”
His response was interesting.”What is the use case for 200 million people?” It is a good question. I suggested that the team take note of how many people carry pen and paper to meetings along with their tablets (iPad of course is the worst offender).
I did get a sense that Panos and the team are all on board with the pen. They are looking for ways to get the message across to a lot of people, and that is re-assuring.
We met with Ed Guiano, the head of Surface Engineering who oozed enthusiasm for his product. And it is a product worthy of such enthusiasm. Ed was incredibly forthright and knowledgeable. He certainly came across as someone that you would want leading your product engineering team.
The marketing team for Surface were accessible, open, dedicated and charged up.
On the other hand folks from the Windows tablet team were not present. There were plenty of great sessions on Consumer Apps, Windows 8.1 features and experiences, but nothing specifically on tablets (apart from Surface). Maybe that’s because only one Tablet and Touch MVP attended – me. There aren’t many of us left anyway in the Tablet and Touch specialty. But I hope that doesn’t mean that Microsoft are putting all of their efforts into Surface.
Surface is currently two amazing and worthy tablets. But they a not suited to everyone and never will be.
The strength of the Windows tablet sphere has always been variety of hardware. Let’s hope the OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Motion have their effort reflected by Microsoft with enthusiasm for their products like we saw from the Surface team last week.