Sleek 3D concept brings Microsoft's recent folding tablet patents to life

We've previously reported that Microsoft is working on a foldable Surface device focused on inking, codenamed Andromeda. Recently, a set of patent filings surfaced, giving us a closer look at Microsoft may have up its sleeve. Now, thanks to designer David Breyer (via The Verge), we have an even better look at what a Surface device based on those patents may look like – and the result is pretty sleek.

Breyer took the recent patent filings and turned them into an impressive set of 3D concepts. The renders explore how the folding device might look in different configurations, showing how the two screens might work when working as one, or folded into separate sections.

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Microsoft's Andromeda device is expected to be somewhat of a revival of the company's canceled Courier tablet, allowing users to take advantage of CShell to enable unique experiences. The device is expected to be able to recognize multiple folded modes, adjustig to suit its configuratio, whether flat, tent, or "laptop" mode. Inking is expected to be a focus here, with note taking and similar functions receiving specific attention.

Patents can be hard to envision as a finished product, so it's striking to see the difference between the recent filings and what a finalized device based on them might look like. That said, it's worth stressing that these renders are based on patents, and we might never see such a device go on sale. Still, it's neat to see concepts detailed in the patents in a more lifelike form.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Yeah... just saw it going famous on twitter... have to say looks pretty impressive and when Panos's team will design it, obviously it will look way better.... the notification panel on side looks pretty good 
  • It looks really nice. I can't wait to drop mobile phones for good and move into the new world of not-Phones like this. WoA always on is of very limited use if it doesn't arrive in a form factor that's easily accessed whilst in standby, so that means pocketable. If this is released, but only in the US (as MS tend towards these days it seems) then I'm hoping US immigration accepts 'Windows Fan' as a suitable reason to accept applications.
  • hahaha I feel your pain lol. I live in Canada and sometimes I feel MS just wants rest of the world to miss it. I mean how much effort can it be to launch just across the border in a tiny nation of Canada but I guess US only makes a lot of sense for them coz they can control a lot of things lot faster in the US. And I agree WoA combined with this kind of form factor is a good combo. The only thing worrying as of now is our store... its still not close enough to other two.. all will depend how MS positions it. And I am very sure this will not be end of it, just like the way Surface triggered surface-like devices, this should do the same. Lets se ehow it goes....
  • Canada has the added complication of two languages, and, different cultural constraints. Licensing agreements are often different which means content (which is much of 'service') is not necessarily the same.
  • Is there really an audience for this type of device?
  • That will depend on what can it do? how much faster it can do? the way MS markets it and how the media receives it and a lot of other questions. I am just happy to see them innovating. 
  • " media receives it " Media does not kill a product. The market kills the product. Apple's Mac is a classic case study. If it had been up to "media" the Mac would've been dead in the 1990's and would've never revived in the 2000's. Many prominent pundits had written the Mac off as a dead end like the Amiga. Instead, the market had a demand for it. Similar story with Windows Phone and BlackBerry but in the opposite direction. Both platforms were dominant in their day. BB in messaging. Windows Phone in smart phones. The media loved them. BlackBerry and Microsoft put good money into marketing. But, the market killed them off very, very, very quickly because better solutions (e.g. iPhone) or more manufacturer friendly (e.g. Android) competitors came along that offered a compelling story. If marketing is the reason Microsoft fails then all of Google's efforts should have failed LONG ago. Google does not market. Android should never have gotten off the ground. GMail would've languished. Google would've never become the dominant search engine it is today. The market saw their offerings and the market liked what it saw. The market has seen Microsoft's offerings and is not excited by them. The market also knows Microsoft as a bad-faith actor which complicates its relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft forked over 3/4 of a billion dollars to Netscape because it did bad (illegal) things. Microsoft gouged Office customers with high, high prices when it (legally) vanquished the competition. Microsoft Internet Explorer--the result of Microsoft's illegal actions vis-a-vis Netscape--is synonymous with insecurity. Windows for many, many years was synonymous with insecure and lost productivity. Windows 10 and Internet Explorer now may be very different creatures from what they were a decade ago, but, there's always the great aphorism, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
  • What would I, and millions of other professionals, do with this device?.. Here's a few examples of things that you CAN'T do with a smartphone, but would be nice with an ultra portable PC
    1. Run Persons net applications on it, which you can't do on a mobile browser, and I've tried.
    2. Run my Cisco PCPT training applications, and training material, on it,, which you can't do on a smartphone.
    3. Run the Cisco CLI R&S simulator on the go.. Try doing that with a smartphone.
    4. Run the Alan Bradley PLC programming software on it, so I can make system changes on the fly, from wherever. Would be especially nice from elevated areas where carrying less is a must. Can't do that on a smartphone, although I bet Android has a ladder logic app so you can at least view rungs. That would be cool from a smartphone.
    5. Totally be able to make A/F cell tuning changes in real time on my bike with real PC software. Would beat having to go home for each change. You can do that with a smartphone, but the FP3 is your only choice.
    6. Run our AV IP networking software from work on this device.. NOW! Once they see me do that, it will be mandatory that everyone has one of these.... Plus work has a device reimbursement plan for devices, and service.
    7. These are only 6 of UNLIMITED usage case scenarios that professionals around the world could use a device like this for. A real portable PC, with pocketability. Besides children, who couldn't use this device to make $$$$$$, and advance their careers🤔🤔🤔?????
  • You could do all of that with the little stylus pen thing & onscreen keyboard?
  • yes we can
  • What would be the smallest screen size that would be feasible on?
  • Screen Size is irrelevant when continuum is involved as well. Having a fully capable device enables you to take your work with you for everything from Talks and Presentations, to docking to a full monitor and Keyboard when available. The possibility to have what you need when you need it at all time in a single device is what we have all been working towards. Those of us who have been riding this train since the 80's are really excited at the possibilities! I know that nothing is concrete right now, and that maybe I wont be able to afford it right away, but it is nice to see something like this becoming closer to reality, if they can just get it passed the bean counters and the technology profit metering police.
  • Yes. Why not? Where do you work? Have you ever used any kind of software other than Angry Birds?
    If I can navigate Excel on my 5.2" 950 screen I can do anything. What's the difference between Excel, and the applications I mentioned above? And, we're talking about a potentially bigger screen than 5.2".
    How extensively have you used your smartphone for productivity?
  • I really doubt you have a job.
  • Have you absolutely lost your mind, child?... I swear, your trolling is just out the roof. Now you're saying things that don't even make any sense. Why are you hear anyways?..... Explain why you're here?
  • Even 2 displays measuring around 6" and the device won't be bigger than Elite x3 while folded
  • I won't be using this for VisualStudio, 3dsMax, Unreal, Unity, etc... but I'lll def use this for quick inking (during meeting, etc), quick drafting (idea comes & go), some occationial photoshop, some XPA gaming (xbox gamepad is also sleek looking, gaming with style man), inject my codes into Edge to automate things, to stop vid auto-play, remove ads, etc.
    Maybe I can use it to do some UWP light programming... we'll see.
    OneDrive on Demand can help me carry more files than available HDD space. Things that I do on my Nexus, e.g. emaill, messenger, youtube, news reading, etc are all available on Win10 too, Don't think I'll be missing much. I've also managed to transfered data from google services to MS services because there's still no desktop app for it.
  • For me yes. As a professor I hop between labs, classes, meetings, etc. all day. I live on my 950 because it is easier to carry a few dongles to hook into systems than carry my ultrabook. I'd take a Surface, but honestly they are even too big to haul around classrooms and labs all day and use while working with different students. Give this, where I get everything my 950 does, plus a reasonable size inking area, and most likely CShell docking and I am sold.
  • Yep... Exactly. Like I said. The kids here that don't yet have real jobs don't understand the appeal of a device like this. For them, they most likely wouldn't get the best use out of it, and a smartphone is enough. The device definitely wouldn't be necessity for everyone.
  • A smartphone is enough until they see the usefullness of this.
  • " The kids here that don't yet have real jobs don't understand the appeal of a device like this." Wait till your eyes hit age 40 and you start need glasses to read. Bye bye silly little foldable device. One thing that seems to be missing from this whole **** fest is that 'foldable' is synonymous with point of failure. What do you think a hinge is going to do after it's folded a few hundreds of times and torqued and dropped :)?
  • 1) Yes  2)Yes 3)Yes
  • That middle part aint gonna work. The Image would bend in horrible curves. Unless the UI is divided, which would destroy the whole idea.
  • I think they can fix that in software. In fact there are two screens. And configuring them as extended display should work as a two screen desktop setup. The smarts would be in the screen angle based offset.
    This should correct the image in any angle so the two screens would look as one.
  • Ignore him. He's trolling..... Again
  • MS has an earlier specific patent dealing with the optics issue at the seam.
  • @crise What about this concept? I prefer this one a lot better.  But no matter what, it would surprise me if Microsoft actually builds something incredibly beautiful. 
  • Beautiful design. But I think this particular design is ok for note taking but a disaster for sketching and drawing. It would've been much more appealing with one foldable screen.
  • Contray to myth, compact foldable screens are still fairy dust. You'll never get the compact fold with current tech. Even Samsung filed a design patent similar to the MS solution.
  • Eh the foldable screen tech is over 6 years old at this point. The question would be the reliability, durability, and maximum bend tolerance. Remember, Microsoft couldn't even get a pair of battery wires in the Band 2 to connect 7cm with only nominal movement/bend, without breaking constantly. That's because they fired their QA/testing guys. They could certainly make a single flexible screen if they put effort into it.
  • That was the fairy dust part, no one has demoed a model with a tight bend tolerance, so at best you fancy screen would always wrap around the outside, but even that angle seems iffy given the tech demoed.
  • That seam area in the middle would be a deal-breaker for many people, including myself.
  • Definitely for the artists
    A gapless screen would've been more convenient.
    On the other hand... A real note pad or journal (moleskin) also has a page gap.
  • Moleskine is a brand name. Why don't you use the word "notepad", "journal" or whatever?!?!
  • Maybe I should correct that.
  • True, but even in that case having to draw or write something across the middle is a pain; imagine having to access a few pixels that are located right in the middle of whatever layout you're accessing...!
  • The screen on each part extends and wraps around the edges at the seam...doesn't bother me. Each screen appears to be independent or the extension of the other screen similar to using two desktop monitors side by side. You can probable watch two separate videos on each screen simultaneously!
  • i know this is based on the patents, but i can't see the product taking off without a full-width flexible display. THAT would be surface-esque innovation.having the gap would feel stale on launch.
  • Are we ever going to stop hearing about Courier.  It was almost 10 years ago.  It's dead, move on.
  • This isn't Courier. It's a new thing based on recently filed pastents.
  • Then don't listen.
  • Definitely a troll.. Why are you hear? Explain
  • I'd rather they wait until they can use a single folding screen rather than 2 separate curved screens. I can't see two independent screens working well with inking, and the image will always be warped.
  • Be prepared to wait a long, long time then.
  • Microsoft's not going to give their design away through patents, I think the artist took it a bit too literal.
  • They did with the Surface studio
  • You obviously don't remember how Studio patents were 1x1 with the actual product
  • You didn't know that screen was going to laydown by looking at those patents... Panos got you with that second video too.
  • And actually that wasn't a surprise at all for people with common sense and knowledge in Surface of hinges and attempts to be "unique and original", just by looking at the 1x1 patents, so not big deal and personally I knew 100% that would happen. Panos got absolutely nothing with that second video. At least not me
  • why so thick?
  • Cause its a sandwich 🥪
  • That's what happens when you fold things in half.
  • Please tell us how thick it is. Also, how much battery life do you want?
  • I would prefer think and longer battery life instead of super thin and only 5 hours of battery life. It should get you trough an workday at the customer.
  • Love the look of this concept.  I think the real product will be a mix of what we saw in the patent and...a miniaturization of the Surface Book hinge. This has been my bet for a while now.  Think about it...the gap that the Surface Book hinge provides is likely just about the right amount of gap needed to bend a screen without having to crease it.  You could bend it to have a pocketable form factor or lay it flat for inking. Anyway, it's anyone's guess...can't wait to see what they have come up with.
  • Can I dream more?
    Alcantara case would be nice to have. The device would feel great to touch, and it would be replaceable as a case :P.
    Because it is Windows 10, we can stream XBox One Game and play directly from this device.
    So, I want customisable XBox case similarly with what we have with controller. That would be extremely cool to have.
  • Maybe case will have the pen holder. This is supposed to be a digital Moleskin. Most people will want a case to protect it anyway.
  • Andromeda is the custom Windows 10 OS that would be used on the this type of device if real or not cancelled. The media who like to spread the rumors have caused this issue mainly due to the poor research and doing the click bait articles.
    Getting fed up with this the 3d concept render looks good and would love a clamshell style phone in this day and age. With Satya still in control it will probably get cancelled anyway, also with a store still lacking the developers and mainstream apps and home automation it's going to be it's killer.
    Microsoft really need to sit down and think what OS to use. I believe a Microsoft made Android OS is the best bet Microsoft launcher built in with all main Microsoft apps to but have the play store and access to Microsoft store. Would be easier for Microsoft to make the Microsoft store apps and games work on Android rather then trying to convert developers.
  • "I believe a Microsoft made Android OS... " Stopped reading right there. In fact, all the rest was silly too.
  • you DIDN'T stop reading there :)
  • Ummm... There was a lot before, "I believe a Microsoft made Android OS...".  And he's right; that was silly too.
  • It is silly, but also silly that one of the world's largest software companies with decades of OS development experience couldn't improve upon the world's most used OS. All the recent MS Launcher development has me just waiting for them to completely eff it up, and I don't want that. Just go improve Word again or change the xbox home screen yet again, or make the Vernal Equinox Creators Update for the Fall S edition & just leave the launcher alone. Leave it alone.
  • You drunk?
  • Eh, he just presents himself as an awful human being on the internet for some reason. Maybe an act, maybe not. Either way very meh.
  • My post have given only useful information about the topics at hand, and are extremely relative to this particular article.
    Your post have given us nothing,, only telling me how you don't like my post, which is a stupid waste of anyone's time here.
    Why don't you give us a logic counter to why you disagree with anything I've said on this article, instead of your pathetic, and useless, obsession with following me around trying to get my attention... Try that. Of course, you'll have nothing worth while to say to this, as expected. Watch.
    What even makes you look worse is the fact that only the most pathetic trolls here have your back... Good job.
    How old are you?
  • I guess it's just your general lack of intelligent writing and meandering, all over the place posts that annoy me, but that's my issue I suppose. I don't suppose there's some 'ignore' button or something hidden somewhere that would clean up the threads... Oh well.
  • Not reading one more word of your stupid BS, so go whine about me to your mom, or your therapist.. You're wasting your pathetic time. EVERYONE here already knows you're a pathetic troll that has no reason to be here. I have nothing left, no desire, or reason, to have to prove that anymore... Sorry, can't help you with your unnecessary problems. Seek solitude elsewhere; I'm done.
  • Thanks, I'll look into that. Merry Christmas to you & yours.
  • Yeah, the guy & his comments are a joke that stopped being funny a long time ago.
  • Web apps are the future
  • So Satya's referred "real computer" won't run native software written specifically for it, but will rely on Web apps? So what is the distinguishing feature of a "REAL computer" over any other device that can certainly run Web apps like, for example, say - iPad? I am eager to know
  • Drool... I want one!!! 😀
  • Pointless if it's not an official render. Many of us could make whatever make believe design we'd like this device to be but it's just a waste of time.
  • People are just having fun.  There's no harm in it.  Other than getting people's hopes up.
  • Would be great if they released 2 different designs. And they might according to the pattents. First, a 360 degree folding courier like device with rounded glass edges. That would be productivity focused. Second, a 180 degree folding device with flat edge patent diagram says "no gap." This could be artistic or design focused, Or basically a folding pocketable tablet. Would have to fold with glass out.
  • It just needs Alcantara on the outside instead of metal. Then it will be its final form.
  • Needs a place to store the pen. I'm not sure if a magnet on the side is enough.
  • My Surface 3 doesn't have storage, and this has never been a problem. Better than the stick approach Samsung goes with.
  • There must be an innovative way to include a mini-pen that is stuck up the headphone hole or USB-C port.
  • In addition to the magnetic attachment (fine on my Surface Book and Surface 3), the pen has a clip, indeed better than the Samsung stick pen.
  • Going by the Space-age Magnet on the Surface Pro, I'm sure a similar Magnet on one of the sides of the Andromeda will suffice to hold then Pen! The Pen on the Surface Po (as well as the Charger, as well as the Type Cover) snap on so effortlessly to its parts, its a great experience! Pulling them out when need to may take a few trials, but thats easy too! And, pulling it out when you DON'T want to is rather difficult! Which is exactly whan one wants!!
  • Yes, please!
  • The device and the imagination of it itself is just gorgeous to me. Too many people worrying about the functionality right now. I just appreciate the concept and I'll worry about the other parts later IF Microsoft finally brings this thing to life.
  • Concept should be functional. 
  • Never Microsoft product again. Never ever.
  • Really? Then you're on the wrong website site...
  • hoo lee ***! that is a thing of beauty! me want me want me want!!!
  • So I'm super late with some things but couldn't you install Blue Stacks on this to eradicate the app gap? Ooh that would be the perfect solution for me. I could leave Android but not the app ecosystem.
  • Blue Stacks is an awful experience, IMO. I've tried it multiple times and won't go back to it again. MS with their services and cloud are still a stong player in the enterprise. But for the consumer space, my guess is that PWAs are Microsoft's only hope. They're never going to get iOS and/or Android developers to bring their offerings to the MS store.
  • He used the exploding chalk screenshot from Apple. What a way to ruin a decent Windows device concept design.
  • OK, that would be a big success but when mobile Windows still had traction in times when Nokia was pushing etc. Now even if that would be released and quite interested what would it be? It can't replace a smartphone without PWA apps (this switch is still not that sure and won't be fast), won't replace laptop in most cases, same with tablets etc. Why it has to be another kind of device? I still hope that it's really aimed for smartphone market like Galaxy Note tried and succeeded. This MUST be a final MS step into mobile market! BTW 999 USD or way above 1k? ;P What do you think?
  • Hello windows mobile, there you are.
  • this will sell for 3000 AUD
  • = around USD$1000
  • sold for 5 devices for my family   david, Chennai, India
  • Looks nice if not a little thick. I think they can come up with a better solution for the hinge/split screen area.
  • Without the apps that people need/want, this is not going to be the savior device that some are imagining.
    Personally, I would hate to have to open this thing every time I wanted to make/take a phone call or quickly check something.
  • Why would anyone design it like that? Don't assume anything on the final product. This is not it. These pix are just a fanboy's take on it.
  • Common sense implies the phone function would be available on an 'outside' screen in folded form.  Then when using the device in full open mode, one would flip over one had to reveal the phone display, deal with the message or call, flip back again to the full open mode to continue.
  • Pure vapor.
  • It's called an artist render for a reason.
  • What?
  • Sleek?   Looks thick and heavy to me.  
  • Hopefully it does have some nice weight to it.
  • That will come with awesome battery life.
  • Two issues... Usability - a seam through the middle won't work; it would ruin any inking experience, not to mention the risk of being unable to access critical pixels in the middle of a webpage, spreadsheet or whatever. Design - smaller fillets! Not only is it poor utilisation in relation to display area, but it looks completely wrong when the device is folded!
  • looks awesome, but PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ADD AN E-INK DISPLAY TO THE OUTSIDE. PLEASE. PLEASE. i love the idea of digital books, but page burners are just not comfortable on a light emitting screen. please somebody in ms think of this and push it. please someone tell Nutella about this.
  • It always looks stunning with some abstract image rendered on the screen. But it fails miserably as soon as you try to imagine browser tab, or some text, unoptimized/stretched app or video playback on the screen. 
  • I hate renders because they always look so beautiful but then the final product comes out and well...womp.
  • ;-)
  • Congrats on winning the internet for 2017, it was a late entry, but well done sir!
  • Stop with the vaporware already.
  • “adjustig to suit its configuratio”. Hopefully it has better spell check than whatever the H you are using now.