Original Surface Duo should get Android 11 before the end of the year, says Microsoft

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

What you need to know

  • The original Surface Duo should receive Android 11 before the end of 2021, according to Microsoft.
  • Microsoft just announced the Surface Duo 2, which will ship with Android 11 in October 2021.
  • Many people have complained about Android 11 taking so long to make its way onto the Surface Duo.

Microsoft announced the Surface Duo 2 this week. The foldable device looks like a major upgrade over its predecessor. It will also ship with Android 11. In contrast, Microsoft hasn't confirmed a release date for Android 11 on the original Surface Duo. The company did, however, share a loose timeframe for the update to roll out to the first-generation Surface Duo.

"We remain committed to providing updates to Surface Duo, and we're working to bring Android 11 to existing customers before the end of this year," said a Microsoft spokesperson to The Verge.

If Android 11 ships to the original Surface Duo by the end of the year, it will arrive on the foldable around the same time other devices receive Android 12. This would place the original Surface Duo one year behind big-name devices in terms of Android support.

Many have complained about the software experience on the Surface Duo, including our senior editor Zac Bowden back in July. "Microsoft's version of Android that powers Surface Duo still feels like it's in beta, and that's probably because it is," said Bowden. "The device has countless issues, many of which are encountered at least once a day. And things just aren't moving fast enough."

Earlier this month, Bowden reviewed the Surface Duo after one year of use. He brought up software issues and Android 11 again:

This device should have received multiple bug fix updates a month, but Microsoft has only shipped one update every month, and it's even had the cheek to stop shipping bug fixes for the last four months as it waits to ship Android 11. It's just unacceptable, and it's not helped by the fact that Microsoft refuses to talk to its customers about this.

Reports from earlier this year suggested that Android 11 might ship to the Surface Duo over the summer, but the update still hasn't rolled out. Microsoft's latest update confirms that the update should roll out within the next three months.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • Android 11 has been out for about a year now and they still have updated the device yet?
    This is the one thing I don't like about Android, it's not like Windows when you can go to Windows Update and install and update when you want. On Android, you have to relay the manufacture to update it
  • It's not exactly a mystery: 1) Duo 2 is the focus and since it ships with Android 11, they want to make it as good of a Day 1 experience as possible. While it's MS with a lot of resources, those resources are still finite and they probably made the simple decision to focus primarily/exclusively on Duo 2 for the last 12 months. 2) It gives Duo 2 more differentiation vs. Duo and while it probably won't move the needle much, every little bit helps. 3) There aren't a ton of original Duos out there to start and a good percentage of owners will probably buy Duo 2 if not Day 1, then pretty soon after launch. 4) There may be problems with Android 11 on the older hardware. I have a OnePlus 7T and the battery life was significantly worse when I first updated to 11. It's only with the past couple of updates it's improved to anywhere close to 10. And that's with a T-Mobile phone which didn't get 11 until April. Even if there's not a known showstopper, why risk creating additional bad press prior to the Duo 2 launch?
  • Duo 1 was a $1400 device. It should receive premium support to match the premium price. Unacceptable and should be a warning to anyone looking at the Duo 2. Don’t expect proper updates on your $1,500 phone!
  • You always Boohoo Microsoft brotha. You're a funny guy.
  • In this case the troll is right. Microsoft has not supported the Duo 1 well and should be called on it. They have not kept their promises around updating to Android 11. They need to get much faster and better at updates. I own the Duo and thus have earned the right to call them out. The software support for Duo has been poor
  • Insert first time meme here... As I cry Lumia tears looking at my 830/920/1020/950..
  • 1) Focus on DUO 2 for the last twelve months? Since the day after Duo 1 came out?
    2) Differentiate it by acknowledging that it will be abandoned the day after release? see 1)
    3) Those Duo 1s out there, were purchased by early adopters who put their own money out there to 'test' the concept for MS. Who better to 'beta' the OS update.
    4) Maybe finding that out what issues there might be would be a good idea. If internal testing found it to be untenable, why are they still implying it will come?
    Maybe actually supporting the current device would mitigate some of the bad press. There were clearly software improvements that would have helped the DUO 1.
  • 1000%. I am not satisfied with the support for Duo 1. Thus a no buy for me this time. At least not until I see improvement
  • Yes, Duo 2 has clearly been the focus since the original Duo was released. If you want to get technical, I bet even prior b/c it was clear from the moment Duo was announced it's a compromised device. It's old hardware from a canceled project running an OS not designed for it. In last week's WC podcast, Dan alluded to the hardware and the need to customize so much stuff for Android 10 (the touch driver is one example) as possible/probable reasons for the Android 11 delay. Regardless of the reasons, MS doesn't believe there are any or many benefits to, as you put it, "beta the OS update" on Duo. Has MS handled it well? No, and unfortunately, it's par for the course. Is it reasonable to be frustrated? Yes, especially with the lack of information. However, as I said in my original reply, this isn't a mystery.
  • There are no acceptable excuses or reasons for the paltry software updates
  • You feel burned, I get it. I wasn't trying for "acceptable". I'm simply speculating on reality. The merits of the reasons are debatable, especially when no one here knows what they are, never mind being knowledgeable enough to properly evaluate them.
  • In the past decade, I had Samsung, Xiaomi and Nokia Android phones as far as I remember. NONE of them received the next major Android update until after at least a YEAR since it was out. I don't think it's the manufacturer's fault, because all of these companies can't be all in the wrong all the time. My current (and last, ever) Nokia phone, 7.2 from 2019 still rocks frickin Android 10, with no updates in sight. Also it's an "Android One" phone, Google backed and all, and still full of bugs, crashes/freezes and no feature updates are a given. I love how some people bash on Windows sometimes, as if anything on Android was any better. It's a joke.
  • "In the past decade, I had Samsung, Xiaomi and Nokia Android phones as far as I remember. NONE of them received the next major update until after at least a YEAR since it was out"
    It might have been the case 5 years ago. But that's not the point here. A fair comparison would be with premium android phones launched alongside or within a year of DUOs launch. Samsung provided their last major OS updates within weeks to months.
    Unless you are talking about a second major OS update in a budget phone, this statement is completely false. NONE of them is as bad as Microsoft. And no one would dare to say we are trying to bring A11 after 4 months from the launch of A12. And Nokia is dead now. If you buy a HMD device, the joke's on you.
  • Thabks for saving me the time lol
  • Lets see here.
    You want customers to buy your "new" Duo for $1500 freaking dollars when the existing version is over a year out of date on its Android version and will be close to 1.5 years out of date "if" it gets the update like you say it should???? Umm yeah, NO
  • Just preordered my Duo 2 yesterday. Until then, I'll keep happily using my Duo 1. Even the first Duo, in spite of its crappy camera (it's only real liability for me) was a massive upgrade from my Samsung Galaxy S10.
  • Call me crazy but they should just blow everyone's minds and put Android 12 on it.
  • I am so tempted to get the Duo 2. It will either be the Duo or Galaxy Z fold 3. This story is probably why I will stick with Samsung. I have no faith that MS will ever properly support these devices. They have a terrible track record when it comes to phones. MS should be on the bleeding edge with these updates. Maybe even setup an Insider program for this platform. Something like that would lure me in and make me want to plunk down a good chunk of money to be part of it all. I don't remember the timing around all of it but my Note 10+ purchased late 2019 has had Android 11 for quite awhile. Samsung states it will get 12.
  • It would be a nice surprise if my Duo 1 got Android 11. Still on the fence about Duo 2 as it's still full price of course and not available on AT&T.
  • Have you considered trading in?
  • $400. Cha-ching. Sorta, I guess.
  • This is the biggest reason I stopped buying anything other than Pixels.
  • For those saying duo 1 owners are/should upgrading to 2: Giving Microsoft ~$3k in less than a year and a half to be 1 version behind on Android support is not the solution.
    Its MORE than reasonable to expect more/faster updates than what Microsoft has been doing for duo.
    And a purposeful delayed release is wicked. If anything the upgrade should come same time as duo 2 launch but Microsoft is playing games lol And this is someone who loves their duo 1. We sure are glutton for punishment. The reason ms falls short on its consumer efforts is because they don't have customer retention by almost NEVER throwing us a bone. Lose old customers chasing new ones and not at an equal rate.
  • Facts! Ima prolly wait till I see how my Duo 1 does with A11 b4 I shell out another $1500, especially since I can just grab a decent Pro 8 (hopefully LTE soon) for around the same price. Plus I get the feeling that too many design changes to the Duo 2 were just afterthoughts/bandaids. It seems like a Duo 1 with extra stuff glued to it (not engineered from scratch like the 1st).
  • Maybe I look at things differently. I don't want to know when we get Android 11. I want to know what functionality Android 11 brings to Duo. The (IMHO) user facing changes 11 brings over 10, are modest. Nothing wrong with that. Nobody is talking about what exactly is special about Android 11 on Duo. Really, I think nobody knows. But with 11 on Duo 2, we'll know by October 21. Along with changes to Launcher etc, which are a part of this discussion too Then we can talk about why or if Android matters. And maybe talk about 12
  • Absolutely agree. I have an Android 11 phone and don't see the features really give any benefit, let alone how it would benefit how I use the Duo (for work).
  • My brain doesn't work that way. The updates mean more to me than just new features. They tell me the manufacturer cares enough about the devices they make and the people who Use them to properly support them. Many updates are just related to security and that's hugely important to me these days.
  • Exactly and MS said they would upgrade and that the A11 update would be beneficial to the Duo experience
  • Android 11 is the first version that supports multiple screens. Android 10 does not, so with the original DUO, Microsoft had to cram unsupported features to simulate the support. Which is why it was a buggy mess out of the gate. Android 11 brings native support. So the overall experience should improve with that update. Android 12 is supposed to bring over even more 1st class support on top of other feature enhancements. So if your device has Android 11 and isn't a multiple screen device, then it makes sense why you wouldn't notice any differences.
  • Android 12 is the bigger update when it comes to interface. Good luck seeing that before 2023 on the $1500 Duo 2. Premium price without premium features or service.
  • Is this a direct quote from MS? If so the word 'should' is significant. I would have liked to hear 'will'.
  • what is the purpose of showing the device with no bezels?