The New Microsoft?

October 10, 2015 - The Company Unleashed an Incredible and Uncharacteristic Event

I've enjoyed some of Microsoft's product introduction events over the years. The same is true for Apple's events, although I've become tired of the breathless hyperbole. But I've also been annoyed that Microsoft seemed incapable of rising to the Apple's marketing level even when it had great products to show off.

We may be on the cusp of a major change.

Surface Pro 4 Intro w/Panay
Microsoft's Panos Panay shows off Surface Pro 4 on October 6, 2015.

Microsoft's October 6th event in New York covered four product lines - Hololens, Band, Lumia, and Surface. The first three were mostly routine, typical Microsoft, although the Hololens demo was very exciting and deeply interesting on its technical merits.

The Surface presentation, on the other hand, was extraordinary. Both the Lumia and Surface presentations were given by Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Surface. Panay delivered a brilliantly scripted Surface presentation with an equally brilliant performance. He managed to create desire for the Surface line and mouthwatering desire for the premium-priced Surface Book. It has been a very long time since that can be said of a Microsoft executive and I've been hanging around the company in various roles since 1981.

The man should get a bonus or a promotion or both or more. He should anchor all Microsoft events.

It wasn't just the quality of the man. Everything was top-notch, including beautiful and compelling product videos.

I was not entirely sure why Panay did the Lumia presentation, but after I recovered from watching the Surface pitch it occurred to me that the Lumia team may have wanted some of the excitement to rub off. It probably worked. There was a moment when he held the 950 and 950XL, one in each hand, and simply showed them to the audience without saying anything for a long number of seconds. I consider myself immune from such hype. It worked anyway.

Make no mistake. If Microsoft can consistently produce this kind of charismatic event going forward, Apple will finally have some serious marketing competition. Finally.