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Andromeda returns: A detailed history of Microsoft's foldable phone project

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Last week, Microsoft unveiled Surface Duo, a pocketable dual-screen mobile device that's coming at the end of next year. This is a project we at Windows Central have been following for almost three years under the internal codename "Andromeda." Initially positioned as a Windows Core OS device, Surface Duo will now be shipping as an Android device instead, a move that few of us were expecting, but is absolutely the right call.

Although a foldable phone by Microsoft came as a surprise to many, this is actually project we've known about for a very long time. It's something Microsoft has been working on since 2016, and has gone through many iterations and changes internally. As such, I thought it would be a cool idea to gather all the important historic points in the journey that has led us to Surface Duo, once codenamed Andromeda.

2016

Microsoft began working on its secret Andromeda project at some point throughout 2016, not too long after the company had decided to give up on Windows 10 Mobile internally. It wasn't until November 2016 where I first started hearing about the Andromeda project from sources, and to mark the occasion, I teased the Andromeda codename in a tweet alongside a number of unrelated things that I was looking forward to in the future.

At the time, I didn't know too much. My job is to dig around for information, and back then, information about the project was scarce. I knew it was a phone, and I knew it would be running a new OS from Microsoft called Andromeda OS. But that was it for the time being. Over the next two years, I would slowly but surely find out more information about this secret mobile project.

2017

In January 2017, I started hearing about more details around Andromeda. I had been told that the device was a dual-screen phone with a focus on pen and digital inking. What I mostly heard about, however, is the software side of things. Known as Andromeda OS internally, this was a flavor of Windows Core OS designed specifically for foldable devices, and its UX was a mix of both Windows 10 desktop and Windows 10 Mobile.

This UX layer was a sticking point for me, as it was being described as an integral part of the Andromeda project. This UX layer was called CShell and was a universal shell designed to adapt and be modularized so that it can run on many kinds of form factor. This would be a key component for a device with two screens that can fold into different orientations.

CShell was the first component of Andromeda that I took a keen focus on, and after talking with several sources on the subject, wrote up my first piece towards the Andromeda puzzle on January 16. Two days before this, a patent revealing a device with two screens appeared online, and it was at this moment that I started to understand the device Microsoft was trying to build.

Satya Nadella was later quoted saying that Microsoft's future phones would not look like normal phones. Not too long after, references to this "Andromeda" device started showing up in code, and leaksters like WalkingCat had begun to dig up these references online. On May 20, Cassim Ketfi fired all cylinders and wrote the first report on his findings around the Andromeda project as a whole. At the time, I still hadn't written about Andromeda itself, as I still had lingering questions around its OS.

Andromeda OS

Andromeda's OS was an interesting topic of conversation with sources, as, at the time, not everyone I was speaking to seemed to fully understand what it was. It wasn't immediately clear to me that Andromeda OS (as it was known at the time) was part of a much larger effort known as Windows Core OS. When Andromeda OS was being described to me, many were calling it a modular platform designed to scale to any form factor.

On September 20, I wrote up the second piece of the puzzle towards Andromeda. This article detailed the OS, and how Microsoft was building a modular and universal version of Windows that would run across all kinds of different devices, including Andromeda. At the time of publishing, I was still calling this effort Andromeda OS, and over the next week, several sources would clarify that Andromeda OS is just one part of this modular project known as Windows Core OS.

Finally, on October 26, I published my findings around Microsoft's secret Andromeda project, tying together the CShell and Windows Core OS articles before it to paint a picture around how enormous this effort was internally. I was told that Microsoft wouldn't be positioning this device as just a phone. At this point, I was hearing that Andromeda was on track for a late 2018 launch, with the possibility of a developer kit being released at Microsoft's Build developer conference in May 2018.

Andromeda, a dual-screen foldable phone by Microsoft that runs a new version of Windows, was really happening. And it was super exciting.

2018

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As 2018 rolled around, I had started to learn about some cool camera tech that would slot the device neatly into the Mixed Reality category with capabilities such as 3D scanning and more, but new details around the project had slowed significantly outside of patents which seemingly revealed new ideas every week. Many of those ideas were not actually part of the Andromeda project, of course.

As Build 2018 approached, it became clear that Microsoft would not be shipping an Andromeda developer kit, as the project itself had slipped behind schedule. In May, I had heard from sources that the company was looking at many different ways to combat the "app-gap" problem that Andromeda would ultimately face, and one solution the company was considering was running Android apps on Andromeda via emulation, similar to Project Astoria.

The problem with Project Astoria is that it worked too well, and there were licensing and political issues around using similar tech in Andromeda. Would Google even allow it? Would it kill off any developer need to build native Windows apps? There were many questions around doing this internally.

In June 2018, The Verge reported on an internal email sent out to employees that detailed its plans around the Andromeda project. Microsoft called the device "new and disruptive" as, at the time, no foldable phones existed. However, a week later ZDNet reported that Microsoft had shelved the Andromeda project entirely. It was no longer happening anytime soon.

Andromeda is dead, or is it?

The report echoed similar concerns I was hearing from sources in May, around Andromeda's problem with not having any apps. This really was a big problem for the Andromeda project as a whole. No matter how amazing Windows was on Andromeda, if it had no apps, it might as well not ship. A pocketable mobile device, of any kind, needs apps.

Interestingly, even with this report claiming the device to be dead, I heard from some sources that Andromeda was still being worked on. Confusingly, however, I also had sources telling me that the project was indeed dead. This was further confirmed when I learned that Andromeda OS had been deprecated. If there's no OS for Andromeda, how can the project still be alive? It was at this point that I gave in and assumed the project really was dead.

Later in 2018, now and then, I'd receive tidbits of information detailing small changes to the Andromeda hardware. It was apparent that the Andromeda hardware was still being worked on, even though the project itself had been deemed dead by so many others. Why would Microsoft continue to work on Andromeda if it was dead? This was a question that I couldn't figure out an answer to.

2019

Surface Duo unfolded on display

Surface Duo unfolded on display (Image credit: Windows Central)

As 2019 rolled around, my focus had moved over from Andromeda to Centaurus. I had heard about Centaurus in late 2018, and it was described to me as a larger Andromeda running a version of Windows Core OS known as Windows Lite. The general consensus here was that Microsoft had shifted gears from Andromeda to Centaurus, as Centaurus was larger and, as such, could be positioned as a PC with PC apps.

In May 2019, whispers around Microsoft doing an Android phone started making its way through the Microsoft bloggersphere. Mary-Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott were the first to detail such plans on Windows Weekly, however the idea seemed so ludicrous that no one wanted to write it up. Why would Microsoft want to make an Android phone?

It appears that in the fall of 2018, Microsoft decided to swap out Windows in favor of Android on Andromeda. This was a move very few of us saw coming. It's obvious now, but at the time we all assumed an Android smartphone by Microsoft would be a traditional slab of glass. Even though I continued to hear that Andromeda was being worked on, I never once made the connection between the Android rumor and Andromeda.

In October, those two things would finally come together spectacularly as the most surprising Microsoft announcement ever. Microsoft had decided to take the Andromeda hardware and slap Android on it, solving the app gap problem in one fell swoop. Known as the Surface Duo, this is the first pocketable Surface, that's also a phone, and it's finally official.

Thoughts?

So that's a not-so-brief look into the journey we've taken together with Andromeda. It's been a rollercoaster for sure, a device that started out as the future of Windows on mobile became a device with Android instead. I think this is an excellent choice for Microsoft, as it's the only realistic way Microsoft can make a phone in 2020. Windows has no ecosystem on phones, and as such, Android is the only way forward in this department.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

76 Comments
  • I'm 100% on board. Do I want a windows phone OS again? Yes. Do I want to see it fail with the app gap? No. I think that is the best of both worlds for today. I have a monthly call with Microsoft for our HoloLens development at my job, and my contact there used to work on it in the early days. We are both completely excited and this will be a day one device for me. I'm excited to see what I can do with it once it is released.
  • If you're on board then you'll love this! I've just created the first official Facebook group strickly for the Surface Duo. You're welcome😊😊
    .....
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/397641020931176/
  • I have to laugh. The past two years all I've been reading here is how much people wanted a "Pocketable PC". Though I'm not a fan of Android being the OS of choice on the Duo I knew Microsoft couldn't be utterly stupid not to build a device that wasn't primarily a PHONE. If this device didn't have a phone it would just be a gloried tablet in form. And that may be good enough for some, but I never believed it would be good enough for the masses. Now the only thing that needs to happen is Microsoft releasing this PHONE with a Microsoft OS. That would be golden.
  • It would be golden aside from the app selection. Smartphones fail if they don't have apps for all social media platforms, music streaming services, video streaming services, and games. MS tried with Windows Phone, it didn't work. It's best to stick with Android and use a launcher and skins to mimic Windows 10X than it is to have native Windows. MS already integrates well with Android, users would not be missing out on anything going with a mobile Windows OS vs. Android (aside from app selection).
  • My tablet has tons of apps. I rarely use it. My Windows Phone has fewer apps and I use it every minute of the day. I laugh at the suggestions that a phone isn't needed. As a person who hires other people if the only way of getting to someone is by text. They would never get hired. And if I can't call and speak with such individual they would never be considered.
  • Just sent in a request to Join.
  • Great Idea.. Just sent a request.. 👍
  • I'm on board, albeit cautious about no outside screen. It remains to be seen how practical it is without one. Perhaps we'll use it folded insideout mostly.
  • I guess we are used to have at least one screen open to the outside, why not two screens opened front and back? Samsung Note's 9 and 10 are gorilla glass on the back too, I guess glass screens all around are robust enough to be in a pocket/table without getting ruined quickly...
  • I would have really liked a choice of getting Windows X OS on it with phone capabilities. Especially if they are asking developers to develop for the Neo. Why not give them a bit more incentive with two devices. Apps are really not that important to me. I have found for most of what I need on my Windows phone i can get via the browser.
    I came from Android to Windows. Did not really want to go back, but I may.
    BTW, that "phone" you are showing under 2016...that....that is what I really always wanted.
  • While I agree, the timing isn't right. There won't be enough people who want the option of not android to justify making two variants.
  • "I would have really liked a choice of getting Windows X OS on it with phone capabilities. Especially if they are asking developers to develop for the Neo. Why not give them a bit more incentive with two devices. " This is why I think this 2 prong approach by MSFT is awesome.
    DUO puts MSFT in the mix for Foldable phones and can not be called late to the party. Android can be forked such that MSFT can do wonders with it to fit MSFT's services narratives which are already evident. NEO would be where MST will be looking for the best success because if developers develop for it and cater to enterprise, all MSFT need to do is to slap a modem on it and or make a WindosX version plus a modem.
  • Great article. I hope the Neo can get enough UWP app support to facilitate an eventual Windows 10 X version of the Duo.
  • It'd be nice to think that more could be encouraged to create UWP apps designed for Windows 10 X, but that is by no means guaranteed. Only one device confirmed to be released running that OS so far, but more on the way (apparently). While Windows 10 X will be able to run any PC UWP app, even apps intended for the Neo will be designed (primarily) for a "PC experience" so not necessarily optimised for mobile (pocket sized device). Why (as an app developer) would you, when there won't be a device people could use such (Windows) apps on! I guess it is possible Microsoft could one day take a look at the UWP app market and decide there is sufficient 3rd-party support for Windows 10 X to justify making a Windows Duo, but where to draw the line on what would constitute a great mobile (apps) experience?
  • The problem with this line of thought is that if you agree that the Windows store (and uwp) doesn't have enough support from third parties that you cannot use it for a phone, then the windows store as a whole doesn't have enough support in general. Hololens is the only device out there where a "pure" uwp/app experience makes sense.l, but then I wouldn't focus on the "universal" part of the platform. The pc/laptop/studio doesn't need uwp at all. The surface hub needs different custom designed apps (you cant run a uwp app designed for desktops on it), the xbox also needs custom designed apps, and had perfectly fine 3rd party support before uwp. The flip side to this argument is that for developers, they can run their apps on many devices (including phones) by just adding additional views to the uwp app. The uwp ecosystem and visual studio tools do make this extremely easy. But this also means supporting windows 10x dual screen devices and phones is also extremely easy. So it essentially boils down to, Microsoft store/uwp doesnt work on phones and for the same reasons, doesn't work anywhere.
    Or
    Microsoft store/uwp makes it easy to work anywhere, in which case it should work on 10x and phones. I think the real reality of the situation isn't that there is a technical limitation, or a app support limitation. I think its just one of branding. Get people putting the name Microsoft and "good phone" in the same sentence, and for most people it won't mater if the surface due 2 or 3 runs Windows 10x or what ever the decide to call the phone modular windows. Running Android for Microsoft isnt a long term success story.
  • I have really mixed feelings on this. I feel like they built a Ferrari but stuffed a Toyota motor in it. I've been using Android for about a year and half and everyday with it has never been better than "meh." I understand Microsoft's dilemma (exciting OS with no apps or boring OS with all the apps) and why they made the choice they've made, but I hope Panos has some more tricks up his sleeve, otherwise I fear it just won't amount to more than a really fancy Android phone.
  • Just out of curiosity... What Android phone are you using? I was a WP/WM user from the beginning, but the 950XL was my last WM Device. For 2 years, I've been using the Samsung Note 8 until my recent upgrade to the Note 10+. The experience has been mostly positive, but yes there are things I miss from WM. What issues drive your experience?
  • I've been using a Moto X4 since I gave up my 950. I know performance issues would mostly be resolved by moving to something higher-end, but I just can't justify the cost when Android leaves me cold (as does iOS). You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but instead my phone has just become a necessary utility, nothing more. I didn't feel that way with Windows. (I know, common sob story on these forums ;) ) So the Duo has me excited and worried I'll be underwhelmed at the same time. I hope over the next year Microsoft is able to push some interesting changes with Android. I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.
  • I was a long time Lumia user, but eventually dropped my final windows phone, a 950 XL for a ZTE axon 7, and now a Sony xperia xz2. Funny part is that I swap my sim back to the Lumia on a regular basis, and have it dual booting win10arm, so I am back to using it more and more for work. Perhaps the win10arm project on github can make the duo dual boot, then I would be in heaven.
  • I hear you and feel your pain, Promise not to tell anyone... I have HP elite x3, L950XL, but no apps made me go android and I opted for stock one with Pixel 2 XL. (Stock Android this helps reduce fragmentation and delay in Os and security updates)
    I installed MSFT Launcher and all MSFT apps/services, I removed / disabled loads of Google stuff and kept those that I do not have any choice but retain. It feels windows to me and that is why I thought it will even feel better windows with DUO
  • Eh. MS can make Android theirs by using their launcher and skins. You can always change the way Android looks and performs on a daily basis, I'm not sure what's boring about that. It's the best of both worlds for MS at this point. They can tool Android to make it look and perform like Windows 10X while getting access to the Google Play Store and the millions of apps that are available.
  • Cant believe they gave up on andromeda code name....that sounds much cooler than surface duo.... somebody beat the Microsoft marketing department with a wet noodle....
  • I think Microsoft Launcher is a different animal on this device (Duo). I believe it has a much greater presence. Think Android on Kindle but much more open.
  • Why do you "need" apps? Why are people so obsessed with them? There has got to be a better way to move forward than to keep appifying the web. If Astoria worked so well then why did they actually abandon it? And why are they suddely all Googlely? None of it makes any sense. Oh well, so long as a Windows rom find Its way to the device then I'm in. I'll just install an decent Android emulator for all 2 apps that actually matter lol
  • Why people need apps from Rudy Huyn himself. https://www.rudyhuyn.com/blog/2019/10/07/edito-surface-duo-and-android/ Microsoft has two choices. Do nothing, or work with Google to make products that might have a chance in the market. They really have no other choice for this stuff.
  • The right approach is offer both a Windows and and Android rom and make everyone happy. If this device isn't a "phone" as they like to say and it's more of a pc then treat it like one. Pcs have the ability to choose your os, so,why can't pocket sized ones?
  • It is expensive and hard to create a mobile operating system with a 0.1% chance of success.
  • They don't need to create a mobile os. They already have one and it's called 10x. They just have to offer the rom as an option. I just want a Windows pocket pc. I dont need a "phone" or an app collector. I just need a Windows os in my pocket is all lol.
  • Why do you "need" a Windows OS in your pocket? You're so obsessed with it. See how that works?
  • "They don't need to create a mobile os. They already have one and it's called 10x"
    Let's hear from the developers on 10X NEO, if successful, I can almost guarantee you, a 10X phone / foldable phone will show up.
  • I would rather have Microsoft focus all their resources on making Android better. The Verge wrote a great piece on this: https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/11/15621428/microsoft-cross-device-ios-a... Ability to choose your OS just doesn't sit well with the vast majority of mobile customers. They have the data and a lot of people happen to use their phones for media consumption and messaging etc. Windows sucks at that. So Microsoft wants to turn these people into creators and get them more productive. At least I won't have to make serious sacrifices if I sell my phone for the Duo. Android is a pretty horrible experience on 9-13-inch screens so they did the right move by putting 10X.
  • By "everyone" you mean the mass majority of people (Android) and a small 0.00001% niche (mobile Windows). You wanting something is fine but insisting that it's the correct approach as if the majority of people want it too is another and that's not the case here. Sorry but Windows Phone failed, it's time to move on and stop trying to put Windows in a phone. People need apps whether you like it or not.
  • The failure of windows phone is proof that while you may not need apps, the average Joe lives and dies by them. I have 30 or so apps on my phone. My wife and daughter have hundreds. For companies its another form of marketing having an app in the drawer. Just because you don't need apps fails when applied to the larger market. Windows phone's spectacular failure is a testament that apps matter.
  • I wouldn't call it an obsession. I just find the apps super convenient. I'll list a few - I'm a heavy, heavy Feedly user and no Feedly clone supports category tagging unfortunately. Mobile app has a better small-screen experience than the desktop site.
    - I prefer using Google Sheets because it has certain features that Excel doesn't have such as IMPORTXML and and I love that the Google Sheets app supports offline files and homescreen shortcuts.
    - I only auto-backup photos to Google Photos because of the unlimited space for slightly compressed photos. If only OneDrive had that feature I'd happily switch as I use OneDrive for everything else.
    - I use another app called AfterShip which auto sends notifications on package statuses. Sadly I could not find a Windows Phone alternative that supports my couriers or even a Windows 10 alternative.
    - When I buy something from Uniqlo over the counter, I use the Uniqlo app to get and have the cashier scan a QR code to get discounts. No Windows version here either.
    - I use 3 other online shopping apps all which have reliable notification systems and exclusive vouchers and sections for mobile.
    - I have a number of banking apps and digital wallets that have more convenient login features like fingerprint login. I find it a lot easier to check my credit card statement and remaining credit limit on a phone than on a desktop. Useful for instances when a cashier swipes my card twice and the first one errors and I want to see if I got charged twice.
    - Duet just came out for Android so my Galaxy S9+ can be used as a second monitor. It's a paid app. Would be an awesome fit for the Duo. I'm just happy that I can use my apps on the Duo and not have to worry about another platform where I have to re-buy stuff. I have a Surface Go and it's pretty silly launching the Android emulator just to use those apps. I'm really happy with Microsoft's Android work so far (Microsoft Launcher). Your Phone could be better though and I'm still relying on Pushbullet (which works far better than any of Microsoft's SMS syncing attempts on Windows Phone). I think Microsoft went all Googly because all those productivity customers don't want the inconvenience of installing APKs that don't auto-update or confuse their audience with a Microsoft Store for Android apps where it has to convince developers to put their apps there. Better to just have the Google Play experience so the apps are there and let Microsoft build a very Microsofty version of Android. I'm pretty happy with Samsung's One UI and really hope the Note 10 Windows integration features get ported to the S9+ but I'd happily switch if Microsoft can do a better job with the integration.
  • All good points. I have to agree that while I don't want to be reliant on apps there are certain ones that are helpful and make life easier that may not exist on windows or even windows mobile when it was still a thing. The only thing I'm say different is that at least for me the your phone app syncs very well at this point, I used to use the web view for Google text messaging but exclusively rely on the app now.
  • Why do you need apps on Windows? Office is an app. Photoshop is an app. Edge is an app. Notepad is an app. App is just shorthand for what we used to call “application software”. The same way that OS is shorthand for Operating System. It has nothing to do with the size or purpose of the software. We call them “App Stores” because it is easier to say than “Application Software Marketplace”. Apps are programs. Computers need programs. Phones are computers. Thus, we need apps. The web browser cannot handle everything. Thus, we have apps.
  • I don't know if they truly gave up on putting a version of Windows on the Duo. I'm just speculating, but I feel like they may be waiting for a more powerful chipset that will allow them to install WindowsX on it in such a small package. Additionally, I think they are still trying to find ways to work out a deal with Google to allow them to use previous projects that would run Android and agree to not basically brick the devices. Basically, adopting a standard from Microsoft that would allow Android apps to run on Windows 10X This deal that could lead to a long term partnership may be simply Microsoft's stop-gap. At present, Android apps don't always transition well between screen sizes. Let alone, duel screens. I'm sure Google has though about creating a foldable device, but knows their has to be interest in such a device from developers. Right now, the Surface Duo would likely garner that interest, because more people will likely buy it, than Samsung and Huawei efforts. Folding plastic will not likely have a long user life and the screen will increasingly become more unattractive each day it's used, increasing the desire for people to want to hold on to such a device long-term. Not to mention the price. People will want their money's worth. I feel Microsoft's Duo will offer that. In addition, it will have inking capabilities, something that neither Samsung or Huawei's option has. Which I fill is a waste, since it folds out into such a large screen. Although, I can't help but wonder if the Surface pen will be able to magnetically adher to the Duo. What's is my point in talking about all of this, good question and I have a good answer. Again, speculation. It just seems that Google was impressed with the design and potential functionality of such a device and wants to see how much interest Microsoft can inspire developers and OEMs to get aboard. Google can't ignore the fact that the original Surface and succeding Surface devices had a huge impact on the PC industry. If Microsoft can spark that same interest in helping create a new form factor, Google may just let Microsoft use Astoria or some version of it within Windows 10X and future versions of Duo devices.
  • The biggest issue Microsoft might face using this as a stop gap is google keeping up with them on improvements. Let's say Microsoft makes the best Android experience on this device. So good that it starts to become better known as a windows device somewhat like Kindle. (I am in no way implying that Kindle is better than any android you can get on any other device. I actually see Kindle as running android lite.) Due to android being open source, they can simply add their version of all the best features Microsoft comes up with natively to all future android releases.
  • Duo isn't comparable to folding screen devices. One is the future and the other is a low tech stop-gap at best. Dual screens will probably never catch on. Folding screens will eventually, when the technology is mature.
  • I know dual screens are not the same as folding screens, but I can't see one catching on and the other not. They're similar enough that I feel that either they both catch on or dual screens catch on first which then lead to folding screens (as the tech gets better).
  • I don't think dual screens will catch on. I think the gap in the middle turns people off. It isn't worth the awkwardness of a folding phone. A folding screen is different. When you open it up, you now just have a tablet. It is simple and makes sense. You run your app on the big screen, no jockeying apps around needed. How often are really looking to run two apps at once on your phone? I rarely use the split screen function. If I had a Surface Duo, I think I would have the second screen folded back most of the time.
  • The thing is, folding screens aren't necessarily going to be a thing until the technology for that folding plastic improves greatly. Not to mention that crease which can be equally annoying. That crease will only get worse with continued use. I know I've tried to use split screen on my Note 8 quite a few times, but splitting a 6 inch screen into to 3 inches or less to work with was annoying and pointless, because you can barely see what you're doing. I stopped trying to use it.
    I think you underestimate how often people try and do more than one thing at a time on their phones. Having a dual screen device would solve a lot of that.
  • Eventually folding screens will be figured out. It might be two years or five, but it will be unbeatable once the technology does get there. Why didn't the Axon M catch on? The hardware wasn't that bad and Android worked well on it. Nobody is excited for the G8X and that looks decent. Dual screens aren't a new thing. Maybe the super thin profile of the Duo will make it less awkward to just use one screen and you only bring the second one into the mix when you have to. That might be the key.
  • yes lol why they got switched you out for windows 10X
  • While both of these options are decent, I can tell you, I've never heard of them until you mentioned it in your response. It wasn't a phone that wasn't marketed with AT&T or other retailers, if at all. The only dual screen phone I've seen in ATT was folding screen made by LG, I think. I thought it was a cool idea, but the phone was clunky. If I had to guess why it failed, marketing. The Surface name carries weight and expectations. I believe and hope that marketing will not be an issue. Additionally, I think people are now ready for something different, unlike two three years ago, when these phones and cases were introduced. We both know that while the idea isn't new, with the right marketing and name behind it, it can be made to seem brand new. Just look at iPhone. It's implemented somethings and marketed them as if they were something never done before. Live pics. WP did it almost a year before. So, it's not really about the fact it's not a new idea, it's whether or not a company can sell it as one. I hope MS remains as enthusiastic about the Duo and Neo as they appeared at their tech event. While the Surface name does carry weight and expectations, MS can sit back and not truly market and push this device, either. So, I guess we will see what happens.
  • I don't think Project Astoria was ever the real problem. If a device can run Android apps (by whatever means) but doesn't have access to the Google Play Store, to most Android users it may as well not be "Android capable" at all, since it is the apps they've become accustomed to using that is the real advantage. Astoria could do a great job of supporting the use of Android apps on top of Windows, but if Google prevents the use of Play Store in that context (which they almost certainly would have, given their documented hostile attitude to Windows Phone implementations of popular Google apps) then there isn't really a point to it all.
  • Just to help fill in a few gaps, these designs were published on June 6th 2017 on Behance- https://www.behance.net/gallery/53506173/Surface-Note. MSpoweruser and hundreds of other publications wrote articles about it. Just search "Surface Note" tons of articles and images come up under that name.
  • When someone actually does write "A detailed history of Microsoft's foldable phone project" please do let me know.
  • Right! There is definitely more history there. Why was Panos so shaky on the exact date they started the project? The designer on behance started the project in February 2017. https://www.behance.net/gallery/53506173/Surface-Note
  • The designer of those mockups isn’t a Microsoft employee, and had no internal knowledge of the designs. Those mockups were based on patent filings found in Jan 2017 which I mention in the article. It’s not part of the internal history of the project.
  • Actually MS history with foldable phones is at least ten years older: search for Microsoft Codex on youtube.
  • The Codex is unrelated to the Andromeda project.
  • I believe Microsoft's approach is wise here. They know they have an app gap. I believe Neo will allow to strengthened the new OS as well as encourage developers to develop for it. Once both products are in their second generation we will see the new OS and it apps come to the Phone platform of Duo.
  • Yes! I lobbied for the return of Jedi Surface Phone on ARM once Msft has given up my 950xl a few years back..great to see we are just a few steps away. I can't wait to program apps specific for either Neo or specifically Duo.
  • The timing for cross platform developers has never been better by leveraging UWP to both Neo and Duo.
  • UWP on Duo?
  • Yes... From UWP to Duo. Yes... UWP will increasingly more important through Windows X
  • That is a long shot. Microsoft is starting next year with basically zero users of Windows X. UWP is going to be even more irrelevant a year from now, especially when you can just build a legacy app and it will work fine. UWP as an app platform is dead.
  • Right... 'cause it makes so much sense to get a Neo with the intention of using it primarily for running Win32 apps, which haven't been optimised for touch or pen input, or use on smaller screens. UWP will be no more dead in a years time than the last 100 times you've made that ridiculous claim.
  • The same could be said for the Surface Pro but here we are. I don't think UWP is going anywhere but most programs run on PCs (including the Surface line) aren't designed for smaller screens or pen/touch input. They're made to be driven by a keyboard and mouse. Hopefully MS can leverage UWP more instead of using it to just distribute programs without any