Microsoft Launcher on Surface Duo really sucks

Surface Duo 2 Widgets
Surface Duo 2 Widgets (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

It's been well over a year since the first Surface Duo hit the market, yet its built-in launcher experience still pales in comparison to the version of Microsoft Launcher you can get on other smartphones. Heck, it pales in comparison to Pixel and Samsung launchers too regarding fit and finish. For some reason, Microsoft has opted to leave the Microsoft Launcher on Surface Duo incredibly barebones, much to the disappointment of users.

This hasn't improved with Surface Duo 2, though Microsoft did update the UI with a minor design refresh, and that just recently rolled out to the Surface Duo 1. We still have no new features, no enhanced customization tweaks, and the launcher itself is just bad at integrating itself with the Surface Duo as its native default launcher experience. As someone with a keen eye for UX design, the Microsoft Launcher is doing a terrible job on Surface Duo in a lot of areas.

For example, on most smartphones these days, the launcher and the gesture system go hand-in-hand. They complement each other. If you swipe up to go home when in an app, that app usually zooms out and back into the icon in which you tapped to open it. That's not so on Surface Duo. The launcher acts like it's an entirely separate entity, with zero ties to the rest of the OS.

Surface Duo 2 Microsoft Launcher Store

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Additionally, for some inexplicable reason, the Microsoft Launcher on Surface Duo appears to unload itself when it's not on display. This makes it so the launcher "pops" back on screen when you swipe up to go home, creating a super disjointed experience. On Pixel or Samsung, the launcher is always running, and the integration with gestures makes going between app and home screen feel fluid and thought out. This is the kind of thing that's missing with Launcher on Surface Duo.

Admittedly, this issue is a little hard to spot if you're not looking for it, but it is there, and it's more noticable if you're using light theme for some reason. When light mode is enabled, the display will sometimes flash black when closing an app to go home when in single-screen mode. This happens because the Launcher has unloaded, and quickly needs to reload as you're swiping up. It's been a real pet peeve for me, and I really hope Microsoft fixes it soon.

Then there's the feature drought. On Surface Duo, Microsoft Launcher is a barebones launcher experience. It supports folders, an app drawer, and the Microsoft Launcher activity feed, and that's about it. This is a real shame, as the Microsoft Launcher on other smartphones is so much more in-depth, with hundreds of customization options to choose from such as custom icons, grid sizes, gestures, theming controls, and much, much more.

Why is the Microsoft Launcher on Surface Duo devices still missing out on these customization options, well over a year into its existence on the market? It's almost as if Microsoft is purposefully limiting the Microsoft Launcher experience on this form factor. If that's true, please stop. It's good to have rich customization options in your launcher experience.

Surface Duo Hero 2020

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Regardless of the feature drought, the issues with Microsoft Launcher not feeling integrated with the rest of the Surface Duo OS is a serious sticking point for me. The launcher unloads and reloads itself whenever you go into and out of an app, and it makes no effort to tie itself to gestures to create a more fluid experience. It's just a poor UX all around, and I wish Microsoft would fix it.

Better yet, I wish the Surface Duo team would dump Microsoft Launcher and go its own route. Surface should create a special Surface Duo launcher that's designed for the dual-screen form factor from the ground up. Integrate it deep with the gesture system and the rest of the OS, and allow it to feel like a component of the OS rather than a third-party launcher that isn't really integrated at all.

I will say I like the new Microsoft Launcher UI. It's clean and consistent with the rest of Microsoft's current design language. I also like the fluid dock that moves icons depending on what screen you're using, and the blur effects look great too. I just wish everything else I mentioned above would be addressed, then it would be great.

I love my Surface Duo 2, and I just want the OS to be perfect. I want the UX to feel polished and fluid, and I want the overall user experience to feel seamless as if it were all built by the same team. The disjointed experience between the Microsoft Launcher and the rest of the OS on Surface Duo is becoming extremely tiresome.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • I'd be really interested to see how Microsoft Launcher works on the OPPO Find N. If it works better than on the Duo, then Microsoft really has a lot to answer for. I already think the Find N is a better form factor (minus pen support), but if Microsoft's own software works better on it than the Duo then I fail to see any reason to buy a Duo.
  • My opinion on the OPPO Find N (based on articles, not first hand experience): aspect ratio is better than Fold, but not as good as Duo, but like the Fold, it suffers the inability to open the device all the way around therefore wastes weight and thickness with an added screen, same design hackery as the Fold.
  • Well, you have a good but very subjective point: for example the "inability" to open the device all the way around is unnecessary because the device have a third screen which, again for my personal preferences, is a huge advantage over the Duo. What I would miss with it would be the ability to use a pen and thr fact that it has a folding screen; for the time being, waiting for scrollable ones, I still prefer the two screen solution.
  • Adding a whole extra screen, with its associated thickness, weight, and cost seem like poor compromises just to avoid folding the device all the way open when you want the the single-screen form factor. Is there a negative for you in folding the device open? I'm trying to understand how, objectively, that could in any way be a disadvantage. Seems the Duo is a solid win on all of those. The Duo's chief disadvantage is simply that it doesn't have a real tablet mode. So if that's what you're after, the Fold or OPPO Find N are a better fit for your needs. But if you want to multitask or have a good single screen experience, the Duo is the superior option (from a hardware perspective).
  • Folding the screen around on the Duo blocks the camera array, turns the device into a wedge because of the camera bump, and doubles the likelihood of cracking a screen. Not to mention the fact that it's two separate screens. I'd much prefer a single large folding screen with a good digital bezel that can turn it into two screens when I want it. The fact that the Find N can do with a single swipe down what the Duo had to accomplish with a large bezel is ridiculous in my opinion, especially considering the Find N is cheaper.
  • Hanley, your point on the camera being behind the other screen when in single-screen mode is clearly true, and that's a fair criticism (though I'd say a trivial one, because when taking a picture, you almost always are doing some adjustment to line up the shot with any phone anyway). However, the bump turning it into a wedge is not a real issue. Yes, geometrically, it's not perfectly flat any longer like the Duo 1, but it's so close as to be nearly impercetible. I still frequently put it in my front pants pocket folded all the way whenever I'm using it in single screen mode. Even without folding fully flat, it's still thinner than the Fold in that mode. I'm not even sure what you mean by "cracking the screen." Do you mean because when it's open the screens are on the outside and more exposed? So is every single screen phone, unless you shove it in an Otterbox. Maybe I'm the odd one here, but I never use cases on any of my phones -- just don't like the extra bulk they add and how they defeat the design aesthetic of the phone. Or do you mean that there's some fulcrum effect from the camera that's somehow likely to break the screen? That I can assure you from usage will NOT happen. Maybe if you jumped up and down on it in that mode, but not from anything resembling normal use. The camera is too wide and balanced to have any such effect, distributing any such force broadly across the other screen.
  • Also, the point of the 2 screens isn't to create the bezel between them (that's clearly an advantage to the Fold), but the fact that it allows all the postures that are not possible with current folding technology. If the Fold had a 3:2 or close aspect ratio and could fold around open or otherwise get as thin as the Duo, its other problems could be solved via software, but so far, we've not seen any way to do that with the Fold's hardware other than with 2 screens. One day, I'm sure a single foldable screen will be the better approach, when they can truly fold just as easily in either direction. Until then, for my use case (and I'd say anyone who really want to do work on the phone), 2 screens provide the superior form factor.
  • Well it is all preference at the end. But to add why having extra screen is good, well it eliminates the need to unfold the device if you don't need the full tablet canvas and just want to use the device one-handed (or at least almost depends on your hand size). Not every task will require or will want a 2 screen or larger screen. It is still faster to just flip out the device and use it instantly with no extra steps, which will require 2 handed operation. Another thing is when using camera, it is less size to hold mid-air and its chunk actually can help when gripping it as a camera especially on landscape taking photos or videos. The problem with Surface Duo now is that the added camera bump now adds overall "thickness" with an air gap between. Good thing there is magnet which is quite strong enough to have, but definitely not as more candybar feel of the Oppo Find N and Galaxy Fold designs. Also even with magnet, it will be designed to not become too strong so user can easily un-fold it, but this also a double-edge where it can be accidentally unfold when you are using it in single screen mode, especially if comes from pocket.
  • Actually, yes there are negatives: first and foremost the device was not projected to be used in such way; MS divulgative material shows opening the device as the main way to interact with it, in fact we had "peek view" in the Duo and now that "Glance bar" which shows only some basic info.
    In the Duo 2 the, unquestionably needed, upgrade of the camera resulted in a scenario where now you can only use it with the device open.
    While I personally still prefer a two screens solution the purported advantage of the Duo in a multitasking scenario is risible: the Oppo, as well as Windows itself, show that a software generated split screen is a perfectly satisfiable solution. Said that let us be clear: almost everything is a compromise, as such some could be a viable solution for some and a no go for others. I have the Duo and I can manage its, in my opinion of course, limitation; I could do the same with the technical solutions offered by the Duo 2 but what I cannot stand with, and the reason why I have not bought it, well not yet, is the MS "bipolar" handling of the project.
  • While adding thickness and weight is obvious, cost is something that is far from certain. There isn't a real big price difference between Duo2 and Flex3. But the real problem is that Samsung sells millions of those and Microsoft has trouble shipping thousands. So while your opinion is respected and you are certainly entitled to it and there is nothing wrong with it, it is also so rare that it can be called 'pervert'.
  • Iabsii, I think this is a terminology or language issue: cost is not the same as price. Cost is what the manufacturer pays for the parts and assembly. Price is what the buyer pays. A screen adds cost, period. Now, the manufacturer may choose to eat that cost, rather than pass it along in the form of a higher price, but there's obviously only so much of that they can do before it's not longer profitable to sell the item, at which point, the manufacturer will stop making it. Businesses can only do things that help them earn a profit, whether directly on the product being sold or through ancillary sales it helps drive (e.g., if MS loses money on every X Box Series X sold, it could still be profitable overall due to game licenses or subscription fees encouraged by XbX ownership. Many people decry profit as "evil," but that's just ignorant. Companies MUST generate a profit or they will go out of business (removing themselves from the competitive landscape, reducing competition, and thereby allowing prices to go up -- competition is the primary force for driving prices down). The quest for profit is THE factor that encourages companies to make things customers want and drives down prices over time by attracting competition and funding innovation. Having said all of that, in another post I did point out that one could argue that at high as the price is for the Duo 2, the cost of an added screen should not be a factor. So, ultimately, I think we're pretty close to agreement on that point.
  • It works better on the Fold 3 has all features included... Still I don't mind the simple design of the launcher on my Duo...
  • Are we talking about the Duo or Duo 2 in this article? For me it looks like something about the Duo (1st Gen). If so, is the experience the same on the Duo 2? I am using the Microsoft launcher for years now on my devices and didn't find anything I dislike. However, I don't need that much customization but the issues with unloading didn't come up for me yet.
  • Virtually the same on both now since the last update...
  • We're talking about both.
  • Ah OK. Wasn't sure about this so thanks for the reply.
  • The unloading issue seems to be duo 2 exclusive. Even after the launcher update on duo 1 (which made it identical to Duo 2), the unloading issue is not present on the original duo. I do agree with the article that the launcher is barebone. I would love customization such as swiping down to pull down notifications instead of opening search (which I don't use). Or the ability to hide the widget area (I prefer add widgets to the regular desktop so I can have multiple columns). I know all these things can be done in the Microsoft launcher for other devices. A lot more can be done as well such as double tap to lock. So yeah, its a missed opportunity.
  • Yes the launcher is different on the duo vs other android phones. I agree with what Zac is saying in this article. My biggest concern being a surface 1 owner well 2
    1) Android 11 we will probably get it 2022...
    2) still OS issues and issues with how this phone registers touches.
  • Agreed, the features are lackluster. Has anyone found other launches to work better on DUO? I was thinking of trying Square Home.
  • It's mixed. You can get some to work well like Square Home, but you need to do a lot of tinkering and you may lose some functionality like launching two apps at once. There's a lot of discussion on /r/surfaceduo and some screenshots.
  • Interesting point about a Duo specific launcher being developed, and if that's the case that could explain a lot of the lack of attention the current Duo launcher is getting. Has there been any word from "sources" that this may be in the works? 🤔
  • I use Launcher 10 - it's got Dual-Screen mode... I tried 'Square Home' & 'Nova 7', and spent quite some time configuring for SD2, but they weren't as friendly and configurable as L10, and while MS Launcher is pretty good, it is - as discussed - quite restrictive on customisation at the moment; hopefully that will change, or they may just keep it polished and 'business-like'
    I had L10 on my previous Note10+ and wasn't sure about trying it on my SD2, but it is awesome! I keep going back to MS Launcher to try it again, but it's just not as versatile as L10
    See my Screenshot here:
  • They won't. They start a lot but never finish anything.
  • It is very barebone, compared to MS Launcher on my Note 8.
  • There might be a bug on your device(s), my Duo 1's launcher is always there in the background, doesn't pop. When I pull up an app from full screen, the launcher is right underneath, no blinking/flashing.
  • Is there a chance they could be working on a new ui specific for surface duo @zac?
  • I do wonder if Microsoft is waiting for the forthcoming Android 12L which is in-part designed for foldable phones. Offloading some of the heavy lifting from the Microsoft team for building dual screen experiences and maybe focusing on making the launcher more feature rich? I've not seen the latest iteration of Microsoft Launcher and it's visual style but it would be nice if it had a more Windows 11 look & feel to it. I'd also like to be able to select the Google Feed as the default when swiping right from home.
  • Maybe, but also considering it is like 2 years and at least Microsoft Launcher in Surface Duo should have at least a polished experience regardless. The issue isn't even the missing features at all, but the general polish that Zac even mentioned. There is just something with Microsoft Launcher that felt not as polished as other 3rd-party launchers and the gestures animation continuity tends to break at times unlike most native Android launcher. Sometimes it still makes me think this is just another Microsoft that tends to less focus about really polishing the UI of their software, as long as it works. This is the same company released Windows 10 at launch with so many rough edges in the UI and even Windows 11 still has it on certain areas, like the multiple desktop where animation is missing not just switching, but also when hovering the thumbnails.
  • All of my issues with the duo have to do with the software. How the largest software company in the world makes such poor software boggles the mind. Maybe it's all the bloat from the data collection behind the scenes that's the culprit. I don't believe for a second that they are really this bad at software design. It has to be deliberate. Why they would do this I can only guess. I clearly have Stockholms syndrome. Fix the bugs microsoft!
  • Ryan, it's Android not Windows
  • The Launcher is a MS product and the version for the specific device made, again, by MS is very barebone compared to the one offered for any other Android based devices.
  • Ryan, I think you missed this article or just can't help yourself on love hate for MSFT
  • Bring live tiles back, bring more 1st party apps like Maps, Calculator and others to it!
  • I would love a Microsoft Movies app... Haven't bought a movie from their store since Windows mobile days...
  • Movie, Pictures, Music... the list is long.
  • Yeah, there are so many apps thag they can recreated with more than basic version for Duo, heck even release it to everybody through Google Play Store since pretty much any app can be set as their respective defaults in Android. Decidated Photos app would be good, since current implementation having it inside OneDrive app seems like a bloat already to have too many things, since it is originally a File Manager for OneDrive. We need a dedicated photos app for Android that have at least sync with OneDrive Photos and all have he album, tags and other features expected from a Photos app. Movies & TV app is definately needed here. Which can be used as a dedicated local video player as well. Calculator would be nice to have better dual-screen UI where you can have 1 screen just for numbers and formula and other for buttons, or something with one whole screen for graphs, especially pen-enabled to draw formulas.
  • You know Zac? To me it would be more interesting to learn why Microsoft has taken this tack. I am 100% certain there is a reason. I imagine Windows Central offering insights into the challenges of dual screen on Android 11. How Launcher helps with that, if it indeed does. Maybe hope for Android 12, if it can take up some of the heavy lifting that Launcher now takes up. Complaining? Yea, you're entitled. But is just not that interesting. You're a very good analyst IMHO. So this piece is an outlyer. There. I said it!
  • Reading the article, I was surprised as well why Zac did not write about what Android 12L is all about and its effect or potential effect on MSFT launcher's work. That investigation could probably have better shape this article
  • I guess this is more to do with now and what was historical. Android 12L may fix it, but until then this is the experience we have now and for next couple of months. We basically just have faith that Android 12L may fix Surface Duo issues, but is remain to be seen. Especially when other OEMs didn't seem to have much problem when it comes to polishing their Android experience like the launcher, yet we got issues like on Duo. Hopefully Android 12L will indeed make things alot better, but we should still encourage Microsoft to do better, especially Microsoft Launcher which is still their own, not Android.
  • “Next couple months” is wishful thinking. You won’t see 12L for a year or more, if ever. Will Microsoft continue with version update if they cancel the device line?
  • Shall we recite the list of all your insulting wrong predictions, Bleached? For now, let's just point out that this whole discussion is about the Duo 2, another MS offering you "guaranteed" would never be released.
  • Yes. He said version 2 would never make it to market.. Not surprised he's wrong yet again.
  • The fact that there is version 2 already and looks like 3 is coming as well, very unlikely this will get cancelled. And Android 12L will be available around next year.
  • This is so depressing. I love MS Launcher on my Note. Are you telling me even that gets screwed up on the Duo. Anyone running MS Launcher on Galaxy Fold? How is it on Samsung dual screen?
  • While I won't disagree that the launcher is overdue for a bevy of new features, enhancements, and customization options, that's not what bothers me the most about the Duo... It's the bugs!!! There's not a day that goes by where something doesn't go wrong. Most of the time it's something minor and easily fixed with a quick sleep/wake. Nonetheless, at some point throughout the day, single screen mode will activate both screens, or touch input is sporadic after wake, or the wrong side keeps getting activated. Luckily, I don't have to reset often like others. Even though 12L might bring a lot of features, that won't change the unstable and unreliable feeling that the Duo gives you. Which is a shame because when the Duo is cooking, it's absolutely a great experience! Still, it's unbelievable that my $300 Kickstarter phone from a mostly no name company is more dependable than one of the largest software makers on the planet. It's akin to when Google released to 2018 Pixel Slate; just no commitment to quality.
  • Still a quality problem, but maybe you have a bad unit? I don't have those problems. I did on my original Duo 1, but MS swapped it out. All those problems went away after that. I do seem to have some minor touch issues on the Duo 2 (that I did not on the Duo 1), similar to what Zac and Mr. Mobile have described. I only feel it on the keyboard and in some fast games, so it's a subtle problem.
  • Maybe it's a bad unit, but I've sent my Duo to MS for repairs two times and already and each unit has come back with the same problems.
  • I have had to reset my OG Duo less than once per month. And unlike my Pixel phone, which was dropping calls every day. I have rarely had a dropped call.
  • I would be happy to hear that Surface is working on a major launcher update for Android 12L. Even though there are many features we all want right now, the most important thing is that the base OS is up to date with great haste, and that the performance and redundancies are all ironed out. I personally don't need hard evidence that they are fast tracking missing features from the generic Microsoft launcher until they have the foundation as solid as possible, even if that means abandoning all of us until Android 12L launches.
  • Features in Launcher but not in Surface duo. (daily bing wallpaper auto switch , gesture customize ) there should be a quicky tool. to lock and switch rotations.(sensors are just too slow and inaccurate). Maybe a floating button / button remap tool coming from many Samsung Note. I think they can just look at their One UI launcher features and pen features (floating buttons..etc) and see what's great. Also in S Note I can hide the gesture bar completely. which is great for getting even a bit more screen. I appreciate that in Surface Duo
  • “For some reason, Microsoft has opted to leave the Microsoft Launcher on Surface Duo incredibly barebones, much to the disappointment of users.” For some reason? The reason is obvious. MS has sold MAYBE 75,000 total Duos (both 1 and 2, and I’m being REALLY generous here). In a world with 5 billion phone users, why would anyone waste time/money writing software to target 75,000 users? The bigger question is why do you continue to buy/use this thing?
  • Because they love it, and already accepted the quirks may come with it being an early adopter. Without early adopter, then this thing will fail and no opportunity to actually address issues and get chance in the market. Also Surface Duo is only have limited availability on limited amount of countries. Many may not have carrier subsidy. So there will be no miracle it will only sold that amount. Microsoft already understand it is going to be niche market, amoung foldable devices which is currently still niche as well. Most people buy normal candybar smartphones, since that is most available to most people with most accessible price and still get what they mostly need.
  • For me, it's the only device with a form factor on which I can be productive when away from my computer. It has saved me dozens of minutes per day that were otherwise lost.
  • Zac just showed how to be critical and constructive at the same time. Didn't come off whinny. But in fact supportive with ideas and suggestions. Other WC writers should take note.
  • Ex Duo early adopter, kept it for a year then switched to Fold 3.
    Where with MS you have only basic functionality, on the Fold you have:
    OneUI latest which works great and is stable
    AND Full set of settings to customise your experience however you want
    AND Labs that adds even more flexibility
    AND GoodLock / NiceLock for even more flexibility.
    oh ...and Dex right? very powerful
    oh and they both cost the same for some reason.... I believe what is happening with the Duo is what happened with Huawei Mate X. They are nice concepts but in reality the design is so limiting and already surpassed by the foldables that have proved that they work. I say limited because of Duo's double folding you have no option on where to put the camera, so you have the bump and the phone is not folding back all the way now, or add a case to customise it (and protect), because of the thickness you can't have wireless charging or more options. It is what it is and it can't be improved too much. the notification bar was the max they could add as it seems and even that is not open for 3rd party. The only thing that Duo really excels is on how beautiful it is. We have excused every issue because especially Duo 1 was a purist's dream. If the design wasn't so great everyone would have dismissed it from day 1and called out MS for a crappy job. Imagine if Duo was not MS Surface but Oppo and they released this product with all the bugs, the barebone software etc. ....who would even buy it??? So coming back to the previous point, in the current state of things, it doesn't seem viable to keep Duo production going. Unless MS commits and makes hardware & software that frees up Duo to it's full potential and uniqueness...
  • The current foldables are a no-go because of how thick they are, I also believe the screens are not yet of glass. The Duo 2 is not perfect but it is a big improvement over the Duo 1, even software is much better now. I personally have a S20 and all those features you list I do not really care about. Dex is only interesting if you want to use your phone as a desktop but in reality this means requiring access to a monitor/tv, charger, keyboard and mouse to make sense. You might as well bring along a laptop or surface imo. And even than Android is limited, I do not even think you can run developer software like Unity or Blender or such on it. Dex is also slow if you use it within Windows. I find YourPhone to make much more sense in that regard and quicker to use.
    Samsung is also so-so with the camera app, you do not really get full control over the camera unless you into Pro mode but that does not fully support the various lenses.
    If there will be a Duo 3, I feel it will be mature enough but my real issue with the Duo-line is the price, it needs to be cheaper or there needs to be a lite version.
  • Microsoft’s lack of dedication towards this device is just another sign that they will not continue development for long. Watch for them to cancel the line early next year. By summer it will be dead.
  • I feel sorry for you on your single screen Apple... 😂 I have the original Duo and all single screen devices seem old fashioned now... Just like I can't use my computer without two monitors, I would now find a single screen device severely limiting... And the build quality of this thing and the feel in the hands is unmatched in my opinion... My colleagues have watched jealousy as I have quickly filled out forms whilst making reference to documents open on the other... While they struggle with their single screen devices swapping between apps constantly while I am already drinking my beer...
  • Bleached, I think you said exactly that, pretty much word for word, a year ago about the Duo 1.
  • Not sure. It certainly wasn’t a success though. Less than 50k sales according to Daniel. It will be canceled.
  • Sounds like the amount of original Surface devices sold. Once again....
  • I have an interest in this product but all the software issues have kept me from proceeding much further. I like the concept of dual screens over other foldables as it seems to mimic more of my work flow and how I work with dual desktop screens. Unfortunately its grossly overpriced to have half baked software (come on Microsoft you can do better) and slow OS version updates. If 12L is a fix for foldables and tablets then why not wait to release the Duo 2? I would think Microsoft would be more responsive to early adopters to get this product moving along.
  • Actually, the software is not that half-baked... I've had mine for a couple of months and rarely notice any glitches. Definitely wouldn't go back to a single screen; and it's value kind of sneaks up on you... When I first got it I was a bit unsure about the whole dual-screen concept, then after some time you get a 'lightbulb moment' and realise how productive it really is - love it! Looking forward to further updates
    NB: Nice to see @bleached is still trolling us ;)
  • The software has some minor issues, but it's far from half-baked. It fundamentally works, but there are rare occasions where a swipe gets misread. Sometimes, that seems to be more an issue of the wide form factor (on which I feel I make more accidental palm touches) than a matter of unreliable software. Also, to say they are slow with updates, but them say they should have delayed the hardware, doesn't make much sense. By your logic, the Duo 2 would have been massively delayed and AGAIN releasing with greatly dated hardware while A12L was prepped. The Duo 2 would have looked quite poor releasing next spring/summer with hardware from early 2021.
  • This whole paradigm of Microsoft applications working better on other mobile devices than those that display the windows branding has always baffled me. Remember when we were saying this with MSFT applications on Windows phone? There's so many complexities and layers to this. It starts with the developers. Remember Rudy Hyun? His third party apps were some of the best apps period for Windows Phone. If you have a dedicated developer or development team and control over the software, you have a dynamic to provide great products. People bring up Pixel, and Samsung but have to remember the software dynamic is different with Google owning the Pixel, and Samsung having over 15 years of working with Android software on their devices. When applications come to these devices the expectations will a good finished product to satisfy the volume of consumers using them. Why do you think MSFT launched updates to their Office suite of applications to the iPhone and Android devices before their own?
    The bigger question for me is what was MSFT's intentions behind creating the launcher in the first place? I used to think it was to bridge what many people liked from the Windows Phone UI and combine it with the expansive application libraries of the other OS's. However most of my friends who never used Window Phones, or don't really operate in the Windows ecosystem like I do know that the launcher even exits or use it. You would think with the Duo 1 and 2 setting the launcher center stage as the dashboard hub of information if you will, they would look to bring a more engaging user experience. This leads me to the second part of the developer motivation/ software ownership part. MSFT doesn't own they software and to this date its hard to identify what type of ratio they have with Google when it comes to working with Android on the Duo. I remember the one commercial I saw regarding the Duo, I don't think they mentioned that it was an Android device, and in Best Buy it's only being sold with the other MSFT devices. It's almost like a device between to worlds with either one trying to truly embrace the other as much as they could. In order for the Duo to really shine in the way they MSFT wants it to in my opinion, they're going to have to look at making it in the same mold as the rest of the Surface family, it's going to have to run Windows or these issues will continue to surface (pun intended :)).
  • Yes, MS seems culturally reluctant to require their developers to ensure that their stuff works with other MS stuff. I find that baffling and a strategic failure of leadership. Obviously, MS leadership gets a lot more right than wrong (see their towering and fast-growing market cap), but on this I think they're repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot and don't even seem to realize it. These problems are not limited to hardware. MS Teams was never available in the MS Store nor supported Live Tiles. The Timeline feature only worked in certain network configurations and not others that were recommended by MS, ensuring many users simply couldn't even try it. My People didn't work with Outlook/Exchange (or always even work with Skype). Teams doesn't talk to Skype (even after MS promised it would). There is no way to sync music from the new Media Player and any MS Android option. These are just a few examples I have personally had to work-around. Obviously, there are many, many others. It's almost like the lesson MS learned from the original anti-trust case against them was: make sure to prioritize supporting your competitors over any semblance of creating a self-nurturing ecosystem.
  • I'll skip and wait for Duo 4 or 5 instead, if they ever evolve :D
  • To quickly comment on what Zac said about the launcher unloading... I wonder if MS did it as part of an aggressive battery saving technique. After all, that 855 on the Duo 1 has to power two screens. From what I considered a normal day of usage, I noticed my battery at 35% after leaving work. Granted, a good chunk of that was in a basement (and I probably should have turned LTE off), but still, the end of most workdays leaves me with around 60% on most phones. Maybe today was worse than usual and I just didn't notice how much I was on my Duo. Or it could be aggressive battery saving. At least that would explain why my Google Calendar widget has to keep refreshing when I wake up the device.
  • I've seen an unexpected drop in battery life from my Duo 1 to Duo 2. It's bad enough that I think I may have a semi-defective battery in my Duo 2 and have requested a replacement (don't have it yet to report if that helped). On the other hand, it's also modest enough that I'm not sure it's really a problem -- maybe I just got lucky with a really exceptionally good battery in the Duo 1 and a little bit unlucky with the battery in my Duo 2. Because battery life is ultimately a chemical process, unlike performance, which should be very nearly identical between devices, battery life per battery falls on a broad bell curve, so no two people will get the same battery life, even with no other variables. Making it more complex, even if your battery is great during the first month, long-term life is also on another bell curve. For example, the battery that held the most charge of a dozen devices at the end of the day when it was new, could break down faster than others and be the battery that holds the least 18 months later (or it could still be the best).
  • it together Microsoft. We deserve better.
  • I don’t know what Microsoft are doing. They stopped working on making a Windows phone and now have a disjointed OS/software for the Duo. I question Microsoft’s commitment to many of its ventures, it’s not Google bad but they seem to abandon projects and ideas halfway through or only come out with something that is 80% ready. Is there an internal struggle on in the company where it wants to be a service, get into hardware or not sure where to take its OS/software?!?
  • It's a business device by the way. You don't need all the fun things like iOS or Google or Samsung offer.
  • Thinking that any mobile device doesn't need everything possible to appeal to a wider audience is the problem here. No device can ever be successful with that kind of thing. Duo is as much of a personal device as it can be used for business. If that idea was true then businesses would be buying them, but they aren't because Duo is lacking.
  • The Duo 2 actually won an award! MKBHD's worst phone of the year! How long until they decide to cancel it? Over a year later and they still can't get the software right, the hardware sucks, the camera is bad. "I wouldn't hand this phone to anyone I really liked." - MKBHD
  • What does "business device" even mean in 2021? What is "a business device" and how is it different than any other device?
  • Microsoft has never been good with smartphones its their curse that's why I gave up on them after my lumia 730
  • I have had the gripe with the limited Microsoft Launcher on Duo from day one, coming from the OnePlus 7 Pro on which I used Microsoft Launcher on a daily basis. I would love to have resizable grids and at least have it be on par with the features found on non-Duo devices. I could maybe understand them cutting features if they were so worried about the UX on the existing features. But it's getting increasingly difficult to use this as some sort of excuse for them when they've had over a year to get it right and add new features to bring it up to par. To say nothing of the bugs that still remain on the Surface Duo 1 experience as well as some minor issues found on Duo 2. Microsoft needs to hire more engineers for the Duo team or hold their feet to the fire so to speak so that the entire experience is at least Samsung quality. I know Samsung has been working with Android for much longer, but Microsoft is the biggest software firm in the world. One would think they'd have an advantage in this area. Microsoft Launcher on the Duo is a shell of itself when compared to other platforms, and if there was a way to load an apk for the version found on other platforms I would have done it already. As much as I absolutely love my Duo 2, Microsoft Launcher is a joke, and unfortunately there aren't any truly optimized alternatives for dual screen devices either. Come on, Microsoft. Get it together.
  • My frustration with the Microsoft Launcher led me to abandon it. I now use Launcher 10.
  • I would have preferred a video instead an article since most people and I don't have surface duo, understanding these problems is a bit harder