Windows is under new management after Microsoft AI reshuffle

Microsoft is reuniting management of its Windows operating system and its Surface devices, as the leader of its Windows and Web Experiences team has quit his current role and may leave the company.

The move is one of the repercussions of Microsoft's appointment of a former Google artificial intelligence (AI) leader to run its new AI division.

Mikhail Parakhin, who as Microsoft's CEO of advertising and web services was also responsible for Windows and web experiences, is seeking new opportunities, potentially outside of Microsoft, according to an internal memo seen by Computerworld and sent by Microsoft's head of experiences and devices, Rajesh Jha.

Parakhin was also in charge of the team responsible for the development of Bing, Edge and Copilot-formerly Bing Chat-and now a key product for the company's client-side AI strategy.

In that capacity, he was placed under former Google employee Mustafa Suleyman, who recently joined Microsoft as EVP and CEO of AI. Suleyman also now leads Microsoft's generative AI (GenAI) team, which is run by Microsoft corporate vice president Misha Bilenko.

Leading Microsoft into AI

Jha wished Parakhin well in his new endeavors but did not specify whether they would be inside or outside of Microsoft.

"Satya [Nadella, Microsoft CEO] and I are grateful for Mikhail's contributions and leadership and want to thank him for all he has done to help Microsoft lead in the new AI wave," he wrote in the memo.

Those contributions include leading the consumer AI strategy by integrating Copilot into Microsoft products such as Bing Search, Office, and other services and devices as part of Microsoft's push into AI since unveiling its partnership last year with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT.

Parakhin also had a reputation for being transparent about Microsoft's plans for its products with the company's vast community of users and maintaining an open dialogue with them about their needs and concerns.

As he mulls his next move, Parakhin will report to Kevin Scott, CTO and EVP of AI, who will continue in his role for the new division.

Windows and Surface reunited

With Parakhin's move, Microsoft also merged the Windows Experiences and Windows + Devices teams as a core part of the Experiences + Devices (E+D) division to streamline its AI client strategy, according to Jha's memo.

"This will enable us to take a holistic approach to building silicon, systems, experiences, and devices that span Windows client and cloud for this AI era," he wrote, announcing direct report Pavan Davuluri as the leader of Microsoft's Windows and Surface team, which "will continue to work closely with the Microsoft AI team on AI, silicon, and experiences."

Indeed, this alignment of Microsoft's client teams will help the company shore up its position moving forward as it carves out its space in the burgeoning AI market, noted John Gallagher, Vice President of Viakoo Labs at Viakoo, a provider of automated IoT cyber hygiene.

"Having Windows and Surface under one leader makes a lot more sense than having those roles split," he said. "Recombining these functions signals that Microsoft will be more aggressive in how they optimize hardware and software to create a user experience."

Streamlined approach

Suleyman co-founded the DeepMind AI lab-one of the pioneers in the space-in London in 2010; Google acquired the lab in 2014. He department Google in 2022 to co-found and lead another AI startup, Inflection AI. Along with Suleyman, another Inflection alum Karén Simonyan also joined Microsoft AI as chief scientist, as did several other former Inflection employees.

Microsoft is tightening up its consumer AI strategy and gearing up for a major push. Indeed, the organizational changes are aimed at helping the company "double down on this innovation," Nadella wrote in a blog post of the memo sent to employees unveiling Suleyman's appointment.

The newly formed Microsoft AI group will focus on developing the Copilot chatbot and furthering its integration into various Microsoft products, as well as overseeing consumer AI products and research.