The Microsoft wants to create a “new and disruptive” dual-screen device category to influence the overall Surface roadmap and blur the lines between what’s considered PC and mobile. Codenamed Andromeda, Microsoft’s project has been in development for at least two years and is designed to be a pocketable Surface device.
According to, Microsoft’s Surface chief, Panos Panay, it is such a machine, built-in collaboration with LG Display, that brings together “innovative new hardware and software experiences to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience.”
The chief designer of Office 365, The original source for a lot of Microsoft’s ambitions was a device called Courier. The secret incubation project was designed to be a dual-screen digital journal and was in development around the same time as Apple’s iPad. Concept videos and images of Courier leaked, showing off a dual-screen device with support for inking and touch.
Microsoft’s Courier concept.
The latest video shows multiple devices with dual displays that fold and flip over to convert from a phone-like device into more of a tablet. These concepts are similar to the type of device that’s used in Westworld, where multiple screens with tiny bezels fold out to create a bigger tablet or collapse into a more manageable phone-sized shape.
Although bendable displays and folding phones are still a few years away from the mainstream, it’s clear from the manifestation of The Surface Hub 2, about Microsoft’s obsession for large touchscreens, and desire for innovating this type of future device.
Microsoft’s foldable phone and tablet concept.
Samsung has also been toying with the idea. The Galaxy maker provided its own concept video of a phone of the future back at CES in 2013, and it has been investing in curved and foldable screen tech ever since. Samsung recently started promoting foldable displays as a source of new revenue, suggesting that we might be very close to a device shipping. LG Display is also working on TV displays that roll up like a newspaper.
Samsung concept phone from 2013.
Whichever company manages to bring a convincing dual-screen device to market first will need to avoid the mistakes of previous attempts such as unoptimized apps, lack of support and giant bezels that ruined the experience.
Microsoft will really need to ensure the software works well enough to realize its dual-screen device dreams. Making apps scale across ever-changing display sizes and formats will be the most difficult challenge for any hardware maker to succeed with. But if any company is successful, then we might be witnessing an interesting era of smartphone and tablet devices.