Microsoft's Surface lead designer officially retires

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Ral Groene - Surface Lead Design

Microsoft Surface lead designer Ralf Groene took to LinkedIn today to announce his retirement from the company after a seventeen-year extensive career.

Unlike other recent Surface-related employee shuffles, Groene seems to be dictating his departure from the company’s flagship hardware division as he officially states, “I’m happy to share that I am now retired.”

While former Surface lead Panos Panay moved on from Microsoft to join Amazon’s hardware efforts, he did so under questionable circumstances that hint at a semi-reluctant departure. However, Groene leaves a simplistic LinkedIn post stating his retirement from Microsoft and the fact that he will be starting a new position.

Like famed Apple designer Jony Ive, Groene was also a student of minimalism and began implementing his design philosophies at Volkswagen AG. Groene stayed in Germany for some time working with legendary Hartmut Esslinger before teaming up with former Office and Surface head Steven Sinofsky on the Surface Pro project.

Now in its eleventh year, Microsoft’s Surface lineup looks prepped to undergo its biggest shake up since the evolution of design from the Surface Pro 2 to the Surface Pro 3. It is rumored that Microsoft will be making a clear delineation between its hardware offerings this year via chipset allocation.

In addition to trusting its consumer lineup in the hands of Qualcomm’s latest system on chip (SoC), this year also marks another big evolution in design language according to reports. The Surface Pro 10 is rumored to bring new screen tech in the way an OLED display that’s more rounded and hosting a new antireflective layer with improved brightness for increased visibility as well as a physical change to the famed Surface Touch Cover that includes larger and bolder typeface on the keys.

The Surface Laptop 6 will also be receiving its first big hardware change since the introduction of a larger screen version a few years back. Similar to the Surface Pro 10, the Laptop 6 is supposed to have an upgraded screen experience, as well as an inclusion of additional ports, a haptic trackpad and potentially a slimmer profile due to its fanless architecture.

Microsoft is set to unveil its new consumer Surface devices next month.

It’s unclear when and where Groene will pop up again following his retirement from Microsoft and the Surface division.

Groene, who’s contributions include the Surface Book, Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Duo, Xbox, HoloLens, certain aesthetics within Windows, and a personal favorite, the Surface Arc Mouse; will mostly likely a mark again wherever the relatively young designer resurfaces, pun intended.

More about the topics: Microsoft Surface