Microsoft reorganized its Windows + Devices team last month, placing Surface chief Panos Panay in charge of both Windows and hardware. While it’s still early days for Panay, we’re starting to get an idea of how things might change with Windows. That starts with a new Windows Insider leader, Microsoft’s beta program that sees millions of people testing Windows 10.
“In my first 30 days as the Windows leader, as I’ve been spending time listening, learning, and working with the team to build a vision for the next era of Windows, I’ve been in awe of the Insiders group and the level of dedication and depth of knowledge they have,” explains Panay in a new blog post today. “To keep this momentum going and continue to grow and innovate in Windows, it’s clear we need the right person to lead this powerful community into the next era, which is why I’m excited to announce Amanda Langowski as the new lead for the Windows Insider Program.”
Langowski is a Microsoft and Windows veteran, having worked at the company for more than 20 years. Langowski previously worked on Windows beta programs, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, and the all-important flighting team that makes sure builds of Windows are available for engineers inside and outside of Microsoft.
Langowski will now take over as the face of Windows 10 testing and lead an important feedback loop, a role that Dona Sarkar previously led for the past few years. Sarkar has taken a new role in the Microsoft Developer Relations team and remains at the company, while the previous Insider chief, Gabe Aul, left Microsoft last year for a virtual and augmented reality engineering role at Facebook.
As Panay says, Microsoft is now getting ready to build a vision for where Windows goes next. The software maker has tried a variety of ways to entice creators to Windows over the past five years, but it has walked back some of those changes. The pace of Windows 10 updates has certainly slowed over the past 12 months, leaving testers and Windows fans wondering what’s coming next.
Microsoft is obviously focused on Windows 10X for dual-screen devices right now, but there will be plenty of changes coming to the desktop version, too. Panay hasn’t finalized his vision for the direction of Windows, but you can expect to see a renewed focus on the OS at Microsoft. That will no doubt include some of the pumped energy Panay is famous for, but also a focus on simplifying the operating system and cleaning up some areas that haven’t been looked at for quite some time.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s bold goal was “we want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows, to loving Windows,” five years ago. It’s fair to say Windows 10 has certainly improved over the past five years, but a fresh vision for where it needs to go and a face for Windows is very much needed.
I expect, and certainly hope, to see a bigger focus on Microsoft adapting the OS to the people who truly use it every day and rely on Windows. That’s not to say there won’t be some big new features that the company will develop, but PowerToys for Windows 10 and the Windows Terminal have been some great additions.
We’re starting to see some of the simplifications for Windows show up, with new icons and even some tweaks to the Start menu. Panay celebrated a billion Windows 10 users with a teaser video last week, and it’s clear the Windows team is looking at cleaning up parts of the UI. Microsoft is ready to listen again, with new leadership involved at the top of Windows and how the company receives feedback. We’re now waiting to hear exactly what the next era of Windows will bring. Some of those answers might not be too far away.