Why is Panos Panay leaving Microsoft? Insiders say he was "unhappy" with recent internal changes

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Tension is brewing at Microsoft as its former Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, is leaving the company for Amazon after a series of internal changes, including budget and staff cuts, canceled products in his division, and discussions about a reorganization, insiders say.

The veteran was at the Redmond-based tech giant for two decades and led the creation of the Surface line of laptops and tablets. His departure was sudden and unexpected, especially since Microsoft is holding its annual Surface event today.

As first exclusively reported by Business Insider, insiders who have worked closely with Panay said recent changes in the Windows + Devices division he ran made him dissatisfied. 

Panay was promoted to chief product officer in 2018. In 2020, he was put in charge of the Windows + Devices organization, which in 2022 grew to include the HoloLens mixed reality-hardware business.

However, the Windows licensing and hardware underperformed relative to the company’s financial projections, and Microsoft responded by dramatically scaling back Panay’s division. According to the insiders, Panay had also asked for more authority and resources for his team, but Microsoft did not give them to him.

The company has even made significant cuts to simplify the Surface business, including canceling products like the next generation of the Surface headphones.