Can Surface Andromeda replace your PC? #AskDanWindows 40

On this week's episode, I talk more about Project Andromeda, since you folks can't seem to get enough (make sure to read my recent article on why new tech is so hard too for more), and I'll talk more about Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and if a developer should give up on Microsoft's UWP, or not.

Tune in, now!

Audience questions for Episode 40

  • Do you think the rumored Andromeda device will be able to replace PC's for some consumers? - Scoots37
  • Should I continue to develop apps for UWP or just go with PWA i.e. is Microsoft going to bail on UWP? - Richard G
  • Do you think the project andromeda device will run Win32/ X86 with emulation to run on ARM? - Len Alfred

For more on PWA's check my article Microsoft is supporting Google's Progressive Web Apps platform and that's great news for everyone, which explains the concept a bit more.

Thanks, everyone, for the questions!

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Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • If they make some kind of better dock device than the old Continuum display adapter, then i can see it almost getting to the point where someone who is a casual user could replace their PC with it. The only thing i really do mainly on my desktop is browse the web to balance my checkbook or check email.
  • Maybe Windows 10 Pro in a phone form factor, surface dock, wireless lapdock and wireless wmr headset But doubt any of this will happen. We will get a weird folding tablet with a gimped OS so no won't replace my desktop surface or phone.
  • It may just run Windows on ARM, which supports all kinds of desktop apps, x86 emulated desktop apps as well as ARM64 native desktop apps in addition to UPW/Centennial apps.
  • Andromeda will be running on a version of Windows that is based on something like Polaris and not Windows 10 S ARM. Meaning that'll be a version like Windows 10 S but without the legacy bloat and won't have native Win32 support unlike current Windows 10 S. But there's no stopping OEMs for making a version with full Windows 10 Pro on ARM that has a Mobile UI.
  • WoA isn't full Windows. It is "Windows Lite". Andromeda will be even more limited with Win32 support not coming until 2019 with RS6 or RS7.
  • That's not nice to say Windows Lite. It has so much power to do quiet a few tasks that ppl would want to do in pocketable form factor device.
  • What's full Windows then? Just because it currently doesn't have X64 support means nothing if its full Windows or not. 
  • Not yet, you mean. Win32 won't be right out of the box.
  • Bingo and sadly thats exactly what they are doing. UWP is a dead man walking, PWA will kill it off if it gains any traction and with Google and Apple onboard it stands a chance I guess. You can put Win32 software on the Windows Store so whats the point of UWP. That leaves Win32 as the sole reason to use Windows, rather than say hey here's the future of the desktop like a universal binary that covers Arm 64-bit and x86 64-bit something like a .uexe instead we get emulation only and the dying UWP as the only way to execute code on these limited Arm Win10 platforms which are really just WinRT with 32-bit Win32 app emulation. Just really poorly thought through, no-one is making UWP software, the most useful software on Windows Store is Win32 based. It's not an equal to x86 Windows, PC market will see right through this. Also MS does very badly every time it launches an undercooked platform which features penned in down the road so Surface Andromeda will no doubt shoot itself in the foot.
  • "UWP is a dead man walking, PWA will kill it off "
    You do realize Microsoft is pushing PWA hard with RS4, right? You act like Microsoft is scared of PWA yet instead, they literally said they're treating them as "first class citizens" and will be putting hundreds/thousands of PWAs automaticaly into the Store via Bing Crawler. In other words, all PWA does to Microsoft is put thousands of new "apps" into its Store. And those "apps" are UWP via an .appx wrapper with some OS integration, Live Tiles, Cortana, and analytics for devs. What a tragedy. Apple has more to fear from PWA than Google (who make money from the web) and Microsoft (who need apps in its store). Apple pulls a TON of money from app commissions. Apple devs are paid very well, but that all goes away if PWA catches on (and that is still an "if").
    "You can put Win32 software on the Windows Store so whats the point of UWP."
    Um, I'm getting the impression you don't know how this works. Win32 apps in the Store are literally hybrid apps: Win32 + UWP. You can't have a Microsoft Store without UWP. Even the Store itself is UWP. Window Core OS will be UWP. Xbox apps are UWP. It's all UWP. That's the point of UWP, it's the framework to get those into the Store and integrate into the OS. I suggest re-reading the source material on this.
  • The first part of your comment regarding Apple seems to imply that it isn't possible to monetize PWAs, could you clarify that?
  • Centennial apps are just win32 packaged for Store. Some have added UWP apis for ads or licensing, but my win32 programs on Store are simple packages that contain an exe, .net framework dlls and other files needed to run the program. There is nothing UWP about them, they don't use compositor, sandbox, live tiles, or anything else UWP related. When installed, they are just win32 apps with the difference that (most) users cannot access the files from the package or start the exe file directly.
  • I think it's a really good idea for Microsoft to fully support PWA, but to also to give clear signals to the developer community that they fully support UWP.  At best Microsoft is king of mixed signals.  In killing mobile off prior to releasing the ultimate mobile device they send the message to developers that Microsoft is wishy washy about mobile, uncommitted, half hearted, and thus one foot in one foot out on UWP itself.  To a developer, abandoning mobile told us that there really never was a "universal" intent from MS in the Universal Windows Platform. That said, I really hope this Andromeda device comes out in my lifetime!  And hopefully branded the Surface Note.  Now that would be a signal of commitment to UWP!  The cloud is great.  A.I. is great.  Augmented Reality great.  Yes, do all those things!  But a failure in mobile would be a great blow to the Windows OS itself.  And Microsoft's main claim to fame is the Windows OS, with MS Office running a close second. But seriously can Microsoft be any slower to market on this Andromeda device?  It wouldn't matter so much if the Lumia 950 had been updated each year and was still proudly serving as Microsoft's flagship device, and if it still felt like Microsoft was putting their heart and soul into Microsoft branded UWP apps or at least as much elbow grease as it spends these days on its iOS and Android apps.  But leaving Win Mobile to rust, while MS moves on to greener pastures has left a foul taste in many a developer's mouth. Because of it, MS will have to package up PWAs themselves and push them to the store, because many devs have abandoned the store and won't waste their time doing it themselves.
  • No tablet/laptop/other device will ever replace my desktop PC
  • What if Surface Andro can do a 27" diagonal hologram screen? in color!
  • But will it run Steam or any other software that I use regularly? My pc is self built, tinkering is a hobby of mine so no, I won't be replacing it with anything except a new desktop build
  • You could also use remote desktop to access them. I just hope that's not the only option when it comes to running win32 applications.
  • Could it also do dishes?
  • Most people use their PCs for browsing the web (most of them use chrome for a reason I'll never understand) and office. So yeah in theory it shouldn't be that hard. But that's not the reality.
  • Daniel, keep up the great work. I really enjoy your insight, your article, videos, etc...
  • Dan, I usually disagree with you quite a bit, but you have been on point lately. Keep up the good work. Absolutely loving stories on PWA and Andromeda lately. This ask Dan was great.
  • Can it replace my smartphone? That should be the question.
  • I think yes , it can , and much more then that eventually (not on day 1 though )
  • Very true!  It will not/can not replace a laptop for developers, gamers, artists, engineers, students (who need a real keyboard).  But you nailed it... the real question is will it replace a smartphone?  To be able to fold out your smartphone and walla you have a 9 inch tablet, now that's pretty cool!  You can show off that Youtube video with twice the gusto you would've on half the screen size.  And you can visit an actual web page... not just some stripped down mobile site.  Or fold it at 95 degrees, and suddenly you have a keyboard where your fat little fingers don't accidentally hit the Zed every time they aim for the A. 
  • Can the mattress WC recommend runs windows 10?
  • We'll ask your mom.
  • Ah! I'll pin ya the location of her grave.
  • ....?
  • I feel like it's near, I could almost see them launch it. Couple of months ago before all the patents that surfaced, Andromeda was just a far fetched dream.
  • I just hope key features aren't left out for months on end, like the blackberry playbook.... That is a classic case of what not to do when launching a product. It must have continuum support out of the gate.
  • Dan, I think, Google started many years ago the PWA effort, originally for Chrome OS, which will (according to Gooogle) be replaced by a new, improved PWA specs. PWA is the result of the Internet W3C workgroup (Google, Microsoft, et al.) Right?
  • Yes. I wrote a whole article explaining it for more explanation.
  • No, it cannot.  Much like the Surface Studio, it will be over priced and under powered.
  • Every PC and computer and smartphone that has ever come to market has been underpowered. That's not a legit criticism.
  • What kind of microphone (on desk) is that? Is it Bluetooth? Looks cool...any link?
  • Over/under on how many f-bombs Rubio drops during the filming of one of these episodes?
  • Thanks for the Info on the Andromeda device. I am excited about this device because it is like
    a Pocket PC with a built in Cell Phone. I like a portable device that has a Larger Screen than a
    Smart phone has. I dreamed of having an 8 inch 16 by 9 HDTV screen Windows 10 Tablet with
    a built in Cell phone. I do not mind carrying around it in a small shoulder bag. I wish Microsoft would
    make a Single screen 8 inch screen Andromeda device with a built in Cell phone. This device would look like the Surface smart Phone Windows smart phone Fans Wanted & many of the old Windows smart phone fans would but it.