Panos Panay, the head of Microsoft's Devices division, ruled out the possibility of the company launching a Surface-branded smartphone in the near future, Android-powered or not. In a recent interview with Wired, the industry veteran reiterated Microsoft is always looking at new form factors and will have more news on the matter relatively soon but after being repeatedly pressed for a direct answer, he stated that he "would not say that that [product plan] includes a Surface phone." The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant is still in the process of forming its Surface product strategy that it sees as closely following the evolution of communications themselves, Mr. Panay revealed, suggesting the company expects contemporary smartphones to undergo some significant changes in the near future.
A day following the executive's interview, tech blog Windows Latest shared screenshots of a conversation with a Microsoft Store employee that can be seen in the gallery below, with the source in question implying the company is actively working on a new handset that will "for sure" run Android and launch under the firm's brand. While similar rumors have been circulating the industry since Microsoft effectively confirmed its Windows Phone push is dead last October, the straightforward nature of Mr. Panay's recent comments largely discredits the newly emerged claims which — even if legitimate — have only been made by someone with much less knowledge of the company's mobile plans.
While the tech juggernaut dropped Windows Phone, it remains committed to mobile apps on both Android and iOS and continues issuing regular updates for its tools such as Office, Skype, and Microsoft Launcher, formerly known as Arrow Launcher. Microsoft's leadership repeatedly signaled mobile platforms remain one of the company's main focus points, together with artificial intelligence, cloud technologies, and mixed reality solutions. Its Surface line also continues onward, having been updated with an affordable Surface Go tablet just last week as part of a push that appears to be aiming at Apple's iPads and education-focused Chromebooks, with the latest Windows machine starting at only $399.