Even though the Surface Book was generally well reviewed, early users were plagued by a variety of issues, including screen flickering, power problems and bouts of instability. We talked with Microsoft representatives about those problems shortly after the laptop's launch, and, for the most part, they acknowledged that they still had work to do.
"When we launched the Surface Book, we had some challenges from the silicon through the software," Panay said. "This is why the Surface Book 2 is so important... Right now we look at Surface Book quality and it's off the charts. Did it take some learning to get it to where we needed to be? Absolutely."
While he wouldn't point to any specific changes that helped stability, Panay noted that they have a better understanding of how they're pushing the CPU, GPU and hinge components. The Surface Book design is unique among laptops: It houses its CPU in the display but holds its graphics hardware (and additional battery) in the keyboard base. In particular, dealing with those early issues strengthened Microsoft's relationship with Intel, which was essential as they developed the Surface Book 2.
Panay didn't say much about what his team is cooking next, after reinventing laptops three times, as well as all-in-one desktops with the Surface Studio. But, not surprisingly, he's excited about the vision of seamless computing that Microsoft is pushing to consumers.
"There was a point in time where you had to switch between your pen, your touchscreen and your keyboard," he said. "There was literally a break in flow... The most inspiring thing about our categories today -- whether it's Cortana, with the dual-array mic, or interacting with Office with a Pen and touch -- as they continue to evolve into a seamless way, we're going to get the best out of people... We're now in a generation where, if you want to get something done: Start. Go. Move."