Microsoft 'Surface Andromeda:' Everything we know about the rumored foldable device

Surface logo
Surface logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

Andromeda is here! Now known as the Surface Duo, and runs Android instead of Windows

Back in October, I wrote an article detailing Microsoft's foldable tablet codenamed Andromeda, and talked about it featuring digital ink and telephony capabilities as well as running a new version of Windows 10 built on Windows Core OS. More information from various sources all over the web has since popped up, so here's a consolidated list of everything we know so far, updated August 2018.

Andromeda: What is it?

Microsoft's Surface Andromeda project is both a software and hardware effort. On the software side, Microsoft is building a new version of Windows 10 that's designed to bring the OS to a new category of mobile devices. This version of Windows 10 is codenamed Andromeda OS, and is part of Microsoft's Windows Core OS effort internally. On the hardware side, Microsoft is building its own Andromeda-based device too.

This is widely expected to be Microsoft "re-entry" into the mobile market. However, rumors suggest Microsoft will not be positioning this device as a smartphone. Instead, Microsoft is going to try and carve out a new, low-volume market for the enterprise, schools, and prosumers/creators. Microsoft did a similar thing with the Surface Studio and original Surface Pro, where it built new device categories for markets that were, at the time, low-volume or non-existent.

Andromeda: Hardware

According to my sources, Microsoft's own Andromeda device is an ARM-based foldable tablet that features two displays joined together by a hinge mechanism in the center of the device. Its primary input method is touch but will feature pen support for note-taking and inking experiences. I'm told the device will resemble that of a pocket journal, with its foldable form-factor allowing it to be opened and closed like a real notebook and fit in a pocket.

The handset will feature telephony capabilities, meaning you will be able to make calls and send texts using the device. Sources say the device will feature a Snapdragon processor and likely come in the usual 64GB or 128GB configurations. Because this device is ARM powered, sources say the Andromeda device should last a full day at least on a single charge. That, along with the fact that this device will be running Windows Core OS, means battery life should be very good.

A leaked internal email described the device as a "new and disruptive" device category that "blurs the lines between mobile and stationary computing ... bring(ing) together innovative new hardware and software experiences to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience."

It is likely that Andromeda will end up being released under the Surface moniker, Microsoft's premium line of devices that are designed to showcase the best of Windows 10. Latest rumors have suggested that Microsoft is pushing Andromeda's release date back to give itself more time to improve the software and hardware.

Andromeda: Software

Photo credit: Engadget

Photo credit: Engadget

Andromeda OS is the first iteration of Windows 10 that will ship under Microsoft's Windows Core OS effort. It will feature CShell, Microsoft's upcoming adaptable UI that will allow the shell to adjust itself depending on the folded position or scenario the device is being used in. This new shell is being designed specifically for dual-screened experiences and is unlike any Windows Shell on the market currently. It's gesture-based and is designed in a way that allows the shell to get out of your way when within an app.

Microsoft is also building a dedicated Journal experience that spans across both displays when in use that features OneNote and Windows Ink integration. My sources tell me that Microsoft is also looking at implementing the same collaborative tech found in the Microsoft Whiteboard app, allowing multiple people to ink within the same Journal together. Other apps may also be able to share snippets and other things directly to the Journal for safekeeping or annotating on.

The device will also feature multitasking that allows the user to snap apps side by side just like you would expect to be able to do on a dual-screen device.

Microsoft is also working on a Continuum mode for Andromeda that will provide a familiar desktop experience when extended to a large screen or connected to a dock. Powered by CShell, this Continuum will allow apps from the Microsoft Store to run in a windowed mode, along with other enhancements that make sense in a desktop environment. We have already showcased an early build of the new CShell Continuum environment, so make sure you check that out.

Internally, Microsoft refers to this improved Continuum mode as "Productivity Mode," and is being positioned as a feature that turns your pocket-device into a full PC when docked up to a large screen. Microsoft really wants to bring back the "pocket-PC" idea, but do it properly this time.

Andromeda: Pricing and release date

Our sources suggest that Andromeda will be a premium device, with pricing to reflect this. No specific price is known at this time, but it is believed the device would cost around or even upwards of $1000.

In regards to a release date, the original plan involved it being announced October of this year. Our sources now suggest that Microsoft has delayed its launch into 2019 due to not being able to complete the OS to a good standard in time. So, the delay allows Microsoft more time to finish up the OS and fine-tune the hardware.

Still more the come

We will continue to update this article with new information as it becomes available, so check back periodically! What are you most looking forward to with this rumored Andromeda device? Let us know in the comments.

Updated August 3rd 2018: We updated this post with the latest infomation we have about Microsoft's Andromeda project.

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.

420 Comments
  • Can I put it in my pocket?
    Make telephone calls on Verizon?
    Will it be good with voice input?
    As much as I would love a device that defines a new category, this may be"just another tablet" unless there are other surprises
  • You will be surprised!
  • I just need something to replace my Lumia 930.
  • Same here, except I need to replace a 950 XL  I don't think I want or need a folding tablet that also makes phone calls.  I just want a phone. I may be wrong, and somebody might be able to show me that I need this object that has never been available to me in the past.  So I reserve judgement and will wait and watch ... quite skeptically.
  • I really don't think it'll be a "phone" even if it can make phone calls. I also believe that, if it runs Windows, it's DOA.  Windows is kaput as anything but a legacy platform in the enterprise.
  • That's not true😎 Windows PC sales actually grew last holiday season and Surface-inspired 2-in-1s have been doing well in the market.
  • Sure, people still buy PCs.  But they're only used for work, excepting a few niche PC gamers.  And while PC sales were relatively flat in 2017 compared to 2016, that's because enterprises are still buying them.  If anyone buys a laptop for home use, these days, it's a Chromebook, because that's what the kids are using at school and that's the platform with all the apps. No one sits around the house doing anything on a PC anymore, except for working from home.  They have their phones, or their smart TVs, or their smart speakers, etc. I spend probably 8 hours a day on a super high-end PC.  I use it for programming, MS Office, email, research, and data analysis (I'm a scientist).  For these things, there is currently no replacement.  And when I get home, I often take out my laptop to keep working on those things.  But these things aren't new: I did all of them 20 years ago.  And when I do anything else, I do it on a different device.  I think my situation is normal. Except for the nacent category of VR which, for now, is used entirely for gaming and which undoubtedly wil be dominated by phone-holsters, I can't think of one new thing that's come to the PC in the last 10 years, whereas innovation in the mobile space is frenetic.  And I mean that literally.  Can you think of even one, tiny thing that exists on PC today that didn't in 2008?
  • X I'm TC,  you are WAY WAY WAY off the mark.  Most people still do most of their home computing on their PC.   Tablets are used for reading a magazine or something like that.   Their phones are to check Social media.   I use my computer many hours at a time, as does my wife.  She could use her ipad but finds the screen and keyboard on her dell better.  Plus,  having some real software is a huge bonus. 
  • I am genuinely curious what "home computing" you do on a PC.  I will occasionally check a Web page for something if I am already on the PC, and I will certainly use it to do things work-related (like check documents or emails), but I can't think of anything recreational that still works best (and very often at all) on a PC. From streaming music or movies to following a recipe online to sharing photos of the kids to controlling smart appliances to playing with Furby to--well, you name it--it is (almost?) always done quicker and easier on some other device. More than that, I am in no way "WAY WAY WAY" off the mark.  Even if you still use your PC for lots of stuff at home, you're the outlier.  Most people don't, I assure you.
  • Why are you even on this board?
  • Did you miss the part where I said I spend 8 hours a day on a PC?
  • There's nothing my wife and I can't and don't do on our Surface Book and Pro.
  • Same here: Surface Pro4, (Pluggable Dock when needed to larger monitors)Surface 3, Dell Venue 8 Pro, Lumia 950XL Dual SIM. I use all of them the same way, all day long, for business and personal needs. I select which one I use based on the size that best fits where I am and what I am doing. But they are all the same - I only use Start, never Desktop, and each Start is set up the same way.
  • Seems like I’m not so off the mark x I’m tc
  • Not far off the mark at all...
  • PC GAMING is a 33 billion dollar business, so there's that. Many games are best played on a PC because they require the processing/graphics power that consoles can't provide, and a keyboard and mouse to play them to their full capacity.
  • I work on my desktop/laptop/tablet PCs, I play on them as well, they're my media consumption device for Plex, when the Roku TV is in us - a wife and 2 children means the one TV often isn't enought. Most importantly of all, my PCs all talk to every other piece of tech in the house, the NAS, the cameras, the home automation and perhaps the thing that's the biggest fail on iOS and Chromebooks, the printer. By far the hardest and most painful thing I've had in a none PC ecosystem is getting printouts where I need them, it's always some half bake cloud solution, whereas the PC can print over the network, or if all else fails a cable from the PC to the printer, and there you go. Even my wife who isn't particularly interested in tech. would rather use her Dell XPS13 than go back to the nightmare that was a Macbook. PCs just work, the main apps I use on my Android phone (I love my lumia, but you have to face facts when you can't get the apps) are for banking and managing flights, these really need to be available on any portable device. If Andromeda is to exceed I think it needs to either emulate Android or MS has to get buy in from the Android app writers for the banks, airlines and social media companies. In my world, I'd love the Andromeda to run old windows apps, then I could leave at home my surface, but I suspect I'll need to carry the Andromeda and get a surface go for my ultimate travelling solution.
  • You assure him....oh God!!! Please help this fella.
  • My PC is my main computing device. I have it through a 40 inch TV from my sofa. I game, watch youtube, I watch media via kodi, I write music. I do occasionally work it on as well, but its primarily an entertainment platform. Same with my windows tablet - I use it to game, check social media, write music - I don't use it for work. One thing I deeply enjoy about the most basic experiences on windows is the feature richness. Edge on windows 10 beats the hell out of mobile browser apps. VLC has hardware acceleration for music listening, kodi for video listening. I can access my whole catalogue of video on kodi nicely on the nice screen. Current pillars of eternity deadfire and trine 2 on the touch tablet also make nice distrations. And in the facebook app, or youtube I get full screen pictures, at a big size, and nice large readable text. Mobiles are for when you don't have anything better. They are a secondary back up device. Or a primary device for poor people.
  • Yea, agreed, I dont use anything but Windows Platforms, In fact my family of 4 (which include my 2 teenage children 17 and 19) all use their desktops, surface tablets and Windows Phones and do just fine with keeping up with all their own activities and their friends activities too. But I guess we arent the cool kids who have to keep up with the latest tech because ours keep working just as well as it did when we bought it. In fact my son who is a programmer has no desire to be on anything else, even though he doesnt mind the idea that he can make money developing apps for others. Just he prefers the Windows and Linux environments for himself. I don't think you realize how many people like having real control over their system. I am sure there are a lot of people who like having things simple at first, but as they become more adept there is a lot of people who want more than what is being fed to them through the limited platforms that keep control out of the hands of users.
  • x I'm tc is just trying to take his/her world and inflict it on the rest of us. My kids are begging for a Windows Notebook for school because the Chromebooks suck so bad!
  • I use all of my Win10 devices for work and personal. That they are all the same and fully integrated is essential. There is no need for any other OS. Business will always be the primary driver. (everyone must work, most workers use PCs)
  • I guess I don't count as a 'real' person then.
    Or perhaps maybe you should realise your use case is not the same as millions of other people out there...
  • I love the idea that someone makes a statement as though they're the only person in the world, this strikes me as typical of iOS users - my Dad is one, until he wants a backup making or a printout :-)
  • Re: X I'm TC,
    Smart TVs rely on apps and apps are transient. These apps are available for a while on the television, and then are gone. Is it on purpose to try to get you to buy a new TV? Maybe the app developers aren't paid enough to put in the effort to keep the apps running? The Xbox and Roku are far better solutions to use with the TV. Hey, I have software from many years ago that still runs on our computers.
    Just my thoughts.
    Best Wishes
  • Everyone I know amongst my friends, family and co-workers still use a PC (including Mac) at home. No one but poor students use a Chromebook only. Just about everything is easier and better to do on a PC than a little internet device.
  • I do, and I know many others who still use a Windows laptop. You exaggerate greatly - quite a talent you have there.
  • Actually the biggest market in PCs currently is consumer laptops. The fastest growing is 2 in 1 hybrids, followed by "a few niche gamers" (lol, gaming is bigger than movies profitwise). So no, that's wrong, empirically. Mobile phones in developed countries are actually on a downturn at the same time. You need to read more about actual market trends before you go claiming things about said market trends. As for innovation in phones - there is none. Dual camera's and other widgets don't count as anything actually useful. Running what is a stripped down equivilant of a webpage isn't innovation either. Mobile phones haven't been innovated at all outside of QUALCOMM chips for ages. Whereas something like VR on the PC, AI on servers - that might have real market legs in the coming years. I wouldn't say something exaggerated, and IMO foolish, like smartphones are irrelevant. But to me they appear extremely stagnant, both technologically (hardware and software), and at a consumer level. I suspect they are essentially a transitional device - the thing that comes before the thing we will carry around with us all the time. As such, I'm fairly sure that neither iOS nor android will form any dominant part of the distant future. That said, I'm not saying apple or google won't, and windows has been planned to change - quite a bit into the 3d one OS vision. But I think people who are super confident in smartphones being "the it technology" are usually boomers, or people in developing countries, who haven't gotten over the initial buzz like everyone else has. And it's likely they have short memories and have forgotten the feature phone, the Walkman, the record player, the pager and so on.
  • I would argue that the mobile space has not shown the level of development you attribute it with in terms of functionality. My Nokia N95 had video calling, GPS with applications to track activity, could play video, music, had a camera, full HTML internet access, applications for productivity such as spreadsheets and word processors and even applications that allowed me to access content from my PC over a network. Speeds and interfaces have improved but I would challenge you to find a function in a modern smartphone that the N95 or early Windows mobile devices lacked. The only function I can think of is the fairly recent addition of NFC allowing payments, but even then with NFC debit/credit cards that has limited appeal. The PC has also been focused on improvements to interface and ease of use. I personally use my service far more than my ipad. The ipad comes with me only if I am off out for the day and am 90% sure I will not need to use it, if I anticipate a need to use a device then my SP goes in my bag, the ipad mini is an emergency device. Web browsing social media usage (outside of a quick post check), photo editing, music streaming to my in home stack, gaming, and of course work. The Surface always my first choice for these things. Since I have a skype number for work it even gets more time on calls than my phone. I know you could argue that I am an outlier however remember that ipad shipments fell -49% between Q4 2013 and Q4 2017 with comparative Q3 to Q4 growth falling from 84% to 3% so it is easy to argue the appeal of the most dominant tablet has fallen somewhat.
  • Dude, this idea that the average person is buying a Chromebook for personal use is comical. Most are buying smaller laptops, like the 13" MacBook Pro, Dell XPS, or HP Spectre series, but make no mistake that most people are definitely still buying full-function laptops, not Chromebooks. The Chromebook sales are mostly schools and younger kids to do basic web research and homework, but the kids reaching college age, as well as any adult with an intention of using the computer to do anything at all useful are going with Windows or Mac. This is helped by consumers' lack of knowledge, the massive in-store selection of PCs, and the fact that any Best Buy employee will talk a user out of a Chromebook because it's "not a full-OS" and "can't even install basic software like Office".
  • Yes but the UWP has not been doing well. For this device to do well, we need more developers porting their x86 software to native ARM. Otherwise its just going to be running x86 software that is poorly optimized for small screen devices. Also virtualized x86 apps are only going to perform "alright" compared to UWP apps.
  • I believe that with PWA's the Microsoft Store will become a lot better than it currently is. I also believe that once PWA's arrive on the Microsoft store, that will open up the ability and usefulness of the Andromeda device. Now I could definitely be wrong, but it seems to me that that is one of the only reasons that we have not seen the Andromeda yet. It just would not make sense when no one has decided to go the UWP route, but all major players have approved of PWA's. The other thing holding back the Andromeda "phone" is the Qualcomm Chips. The current chips are obviously not powerful enough to actually run full Windows 10 OS, as we have seen from the current laptops that have tried using ARM chips. I hope both of those issues will be solved soon, because when my phone contract is done, I hope to be able to get the Andromeda and for it to replace my phone. That is if they build the device I hope they do. The current trajectory of the Surface line is definitely positive and they just need to keep it up.
  • I am patiently waiting. I'll continue to use my Lumia 959XL Dual SIM until the new architecture arrives. I have a backup 950XL Dual in its box in my office in case this one dies, is dropped. I WILL NOT go back to an Android or IOS phone while there are ANY synapses left!!
  • I've been thinking our pocketable devices will become our primary processors, network connectors, local storage, peripheral drivers used wherever we go. As we walk into our offices, it will connect to our work network devices and peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, mice. Same thing for our homes, the offices there, family rooms, where ever we are. Instead of my Pro4 in my office, my "phone" will just connect to a dock, same in my home office and for my family room use, the device there, instead of my Surface 3, it will just be a connectable display, mouse and keyboard. All of the processing, network, internet, cloud connections, offline storage, will be through the small tablet that is also a phone.
    As that size gets more powerful, there will be no need to duplicate it all in every device in the home or office.
  • Exactly what I have been waiting for, a scaleable device that depending on what hardware it is docked to becomes more powerful and unlocks added features of the OS. A docking station with extra CPU and GPU as well as Memory ect ect, making our productivity and everyday life seamless. Like instant upgrades.
  • Legacy platform in the enterprise? Which enterprise runs their business on a phone OS?
  • Will when the new Surface Phone arrives.
  • Sure, keep dreaming, like companies are imbeciles to trust their money again on another MS junk pocket device after their catastrophic failures with the phones.
  • It may not be called Surface Phone, but it better be a Surface Phone like device. Otherwise, I won't touch it. The CShell will be a big selling point for Andromeda. The CShell based Continuum PC will be attractive to all the W10 users. So Andromeda will become a multifunct