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A fresh Surface 'Andromeda' patent details folding lock mechanism

Microsoft's worst kept secret keeps on spilling out thanks to patent filings related to the device. This latest one was unearthed by h0x0d on Twitter, and appears to detail a locking mechanism for the device's folding display.

Microsoft's Andromeda tablet is expected to be a dual-display folding device, complete with telephony and a unique Windows operating system (based on Windows Core OS) designed specifically for this new form factor. The Andromeda device will likely sport the Surface branding, and focus on digital journaling with robust inking features.

According to this new patent, the device could include magnetic locking mechanisms embedded in the display, allowing it to become locked in a folded state. The patent details the use of pivots and magnetic shielding to allow the locking mechanism to do its job, while noting that the device's hinge "may provide freedom of rotation from 0 degrees to 360 degrees." Presumeably, the magnets would be able to pivot to provide locking capabilities for both screens facing out, and screens closed. You can take a look at the full patent right over here.

As with all patents, don't take this as a confirmation of Andromeda or its features. As we know from the Surface Mini, projects and prototypes can get canned at the last minute.

Microsoft Andromeda: Everything we know so far

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

79 Comments
  • This is just sooo exciting, can barely contain myself. What's everyone's best bet for the release date? Fall 2018 or 2019?
  • my bet(and hope) is on Spring 2018
  • Should be fall 2018 as all requirement features were to ship with that date. But the way RS6 will go is unknown, even for Microsoft I guess. Wouldn't be the first time they fail to deliver a scheduled feature in time.
  • Fall 2018 with RS5, but probably hear some "rumblings" before that as stuff is leaked to developers
  • Yes. It's definitely coming. Something is coming. I'm looking forward to it.
  • It is definitely coming, but if Ol' Nads finds out non-enterprise customers are interested in it he could well reverse course. The quicker it comes, the less the chance of Nads getting wind and raining on our parade. I'm really hoping the right-thinkers at MS find something shiny to distract him with whilst they get this out to us.
  • > Nads finds out non-enterprise
    > customers are interested in it
    > he could well reverse course
    Doesn't make sense. If you are referring to WinPhone... it was dead right from the beginning no matter who's interested. It had no synergy with other MS's products. It'd be a disaster for any programmer as well if it somehow succeeded. Why code & QA for 4 OSes instead of 3?
  • Andromeda is going to be a fourth target now too, not any different than Windows 10 Mobile. It may just be Windows 11 Mobile, especially if they stick with the Windows name.
  • I wasn't talking about phones. Microsoft aren't making any phones. I was referring to the not-Phone in the article.
  • Yes.  A developer's edition is definitely coming before Microsoft Build in May.
  • May I ask why anyone would be looking forward to this in 2018?  So it folds?  So what?  Will it have any programs for it?  If it runs Windows, the answer is no. And without software, who cares?
  • Windows doesn't have programs?
  • Not for small screens and mobility. I mean will it be able to run a basic app like WhatsApp that many people NEED. There is no WhatsApp for Windows now so that will be a huge problem for me personally.
  • This isn't competing with phones. If you need WhatsApp, use your phone. 
  • There is a WhatsApp app in the windows store, but it's win32 so you need someone more tech savvy than me to say whether it would run on this kind of device. Perhaps through emulation?
  • There is official WhatsApp for both Windows Mobile and Desktop.
  • They some programs to download on disk and website but they need programs on store just like program with apps that can get notifications.
  • @Giddora Not many.
  • I think the writing is on the wall -- the world is moving to PWAs and sooner they do, the better for hardware fans. It will allow us to buy the device and UI we like without having to worry about apps.
  • Late 2018 launch and early 2019 availability would do it for me. Holding on to L930 for now.
  • Whatever this is, it won't repace your phone.  That ship has sailed.
  • Replacing phones is a ship sailed?
  • I don't understand you?
  • It's going to replace mine.
  • No, it won't.
  • Achktually this was supposed to arrive in 2017
  • can you provide a link where this was announced for 2017?
  • He said 'supposed' not 'announced'. I seem to remember a lot of supposition going on mentioning 2017. Just search these forums.
  • This is just a patent, which may or may not be used.
  • The patent says "Fig 1A illustrates an electronic device...for instance a mobile device, a tablet computer, a laptop, a smartphone or a mobile phone, a phablet, a media player, a personal digital assistant, an e-book reader, a game console, a wearable device, a display or a flat screen television" - or maybe all of those in one?!! OK, maybe not a wearable, you'd look pretty silly with one of those stuck to your wrist...
  • That is apparently lawyer speak so that it covers every form factor imaginable.
  • I hope for an AIO device. Something that would replace a smartphone, L930 has been enough for me for so long, I hope this device would do a lot more than what I have or what ppl have and that is necessary to change the game, Paradigm Shift to say.
  • Have you seen Flava Flav?
  • Pretty excited to see this one materialize. It's been a long time for ANY true, new, form factors on the market.
  • 'Microsoft's worst kept secret', all we have are parent drawings and speculation. Cut it out.
  • we have way more than that if you read our coverage on it.
  • Some of us have seen a lot more...you only see what we have shown you.
  • Then show us something more Dan !
  • Back at the time of Astoria, I asked myself who serves their audience better - scrappy outsiders digging into rumors, or cosy insiders who share some info but hold some back? Comments like this make me wonder all over again. Hope the sofas are comfy and the refreshments are tasty at MS's offices
  • The difference is that insider information is true, and to keep your inside information you will need to be very careful with what you drop.
  • WC can't just show, or tell, you everything you want... Peoples jobs are on the line. It's serious business. Get real.
  • Sure, but WC is drawing a line and we only get any any insight into the quality of their judgement during events like the Astoria leak. In hindsight, was an embargo really necessary when the whole thing ultimately didn't amount to a hill of beans?
  • We wish hah.
  • Well, sort of. Many of us see other things too.
  • I gathered that from an article you wrote just the other day that you may have seen more.  The question is, is it a SHOW STOPPER?!  Or is just aight?  Funny thing is, I'm not salivating with optimism.  My anticipation is held in check, remembering the release of the 950s.  Every time I think Microsoft is going to release something special that optimism is followed by a punch in the gut.  Here's hoping it's something noteworthy but this time I'm not holding my breath.   
  • What exactly do you want to happen? Hater?
  • Foldable device in 2018/19? It's way too late.
  • too late for what?
  • Thank you for that question!
  • Thank you for that statement!
  • For a foldable device? I think it was just said. :)
  • Man went to the moon faster than this.
  • It took them 2 years to design & release a thin & light laptop.
  • Yeah it's helpful when the government puts full funding behind programs especially when during that time when it was a space race against other countries, so there was a hyperfocus on going into space. Not the best comparison.
  • You're saying it took Apple a shorter amount of time to bring the first iPhone to market?
    ......
    Do you know how many years Apple worked on the first iPhone?
  • 47
  • would say. I believed that microsoft is always pretty good on the Hardware design. I think, thats gonna be an eye-catcher thing. I hope microsoft introduce in this year. Its time to retire my lumia.
  • The Swiss army knife of Microsoft.....hope it can do lots of unthinkables....
  • Only to unmentionables
  • This article only shows half, there are other pairs of magnets on the hinge side. Those are used to detect the angle of the displays in respect to one another, at least that's how I interpreted it.
  • Hardware would be solid, can't complain anything that comes from Surface. Windows Core OS is what I'm hoping good things from.
  • Still it will never have complrte offline maps, Careem and ebay. Scuks
  • PWA is very helpful here.
  • Uh, all of that is already available...
  • The trend for PWA is that it will be more mainstream this yr. The timing of this device is perfect to catch that wave. If they released this last yr, will be DOA.
  • I can't wait for the next Nintendo DS release! Hurry up Microsoft, I want more Mario!
  • Remember the first Surface wasn't necessarily released soley for consumers.  It took some time, but created a new catogory of computing machines.  I feel this will do the same.  It will take some time to generate some traction, but one thing we know is what works at work, eventually will make it's way to your home, and that's where consumer buy in will take place.
  • What has gone from work to home? I think it goes the other way with most technology. Business is much slower to react when compared to consumer.
  • Smartphones started at work and came home (and became dumberphones). Computers was the same. GPS started as an army project and came home. Cars started at work. Cellphones started at work. Internet started at schools. Almost everything we use today started at work.
  • What exactly do you want to happen?
  • oh look it is a kid in the basement.
  • Hopefully the exterior and function of the future is matched by the guts of the future and not the past. If waiting until fall means it uses the next generation chips than wait, unlike HP's ARM device.
  • Blah,blah,blah,don't believe the hype,false media!!
  • Where there is smoke, there is fire. Panos get it right. Ultimate mobile device.
  • The one glaring thing missing from all these patents is a flexible display. While the competitors are releasing flexible display devices this year, Satay will be quietly scrapping the Crevice. Or... Microsoft is only pretending to be dumb and the fulcrum hinge on the Surface book is the precursor to having the display fold while maintaining a minimum bend angle and constant tension.
  • I have been following this Andromeda device story for awhile now. I have always wanted to
    have a hybrid mini tablet cell phone device. in fact I am going to buy an 8 inch Windows 10 Tablet soon & wish it had a built in cell phone. I hope the Andromeda device lives up to all the hype. It seems Microsoft's Surface Team members have put in a lot of work on it. This device may be too big for a lot of People so it may sell as a low vouume specialty product. I think enough people will buy the Andromeda devices to make it worth Microsoft's efforts to design, test. Have made and sold to people world wide
  • Gregory, I believe you are hitting the nail on the proverbial head.  Everyone in the consumer world is gaga over the latest portable that runs third party apps. for social networking purposes.  What is missing in the portable world is a true business productivity capable device.  You cannot run run full business productivity apps., or VPN into business networks and do REAL work with any of the  smartphones currently on the market.  Right now, a systems admin. or business unit manager has to carry a smartphone, tablet, and laptop to have access to the full range of enterprise tools and applications that make it possible to do real work from a remote location.  A folding device that gives you a full sized 8" screen, with real keyboard and mouse would be a game changer for that kind of user.  The added ablity to dock it at home or away, and use up to a 32" monitor, with real ethernet connection to a network and its devices becomes icing on the cake.  From my perspective, running WhatsApp, facebook, or a stack of third party games is way less important than seeing real email, having full document editing capability, and being able to use all the resources of my institution.  I also get frustrated that people will make comments around things like WhatsApp being phone only, when the WhatsApp web site specifically states that a Windows destop app IS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW.  That total home consumer, entertainment minded bias is a real problem in my opinion.  A phone is a great toy, and can give a taste of productivity access, but a real computer can't be beat for true power mobility.  The old Motorola Atrix with lapdock was a partial attempt at delivering that promise of power mobility, but a folding Surface Phone could be the first time anyone actually DELIVERS on that promise.  If a Surface Phone hits the market, I will certainly be among the first in line chanting "take my money". Jose S.
  • how do you know the Surface Mini was canceled? it is more like that Surface mini was redesign been the foldable device. I do thank work on the Surface phone and surface watch.
  • This device would be awesome for real business world use.  WhatsApp and tons of other popular mobile apps. not only are available for a full Windows platform, but you could also use Skype for Business, and O365 on this kind of platform.  Smartphones simply cannot do everything a "real" computer can.  Much less so the other way around.  Also, full blown web browser access/compatibility can't be beat by something like an iPad running what is essentially a crippled OS.  How could you NOT see the value of a powerful folding device that is the size of a smartphone, but also is the size of tablet with the added functionality, and can use a dock to run on a 32" monitor with full size keyboard/mouse, AND is a full blown enterprise ready computer, compatible with all security protocols?  I see this as the one device every medium to large business could actually use and implement really well.  Now that is a HUGE market. Jose S.