Towards the future, Microsoft is betting on a new trend that we have seen emerging with the phone and even some manufacturers of laptops (such as Lenovo) this year: dual-screen devices.  There have been many patents, leaks and more related to Microsoft's work in this area, but yesterday, at the October 2 Surface event, the company finally came out and made everything public. Big Redmond showed a functional prototype of a dual-screen Windows 10 PC known as Surface Neo, and shocked the world with a dual-screen Android phone that is known as Surface Duo.
Microsoft kept the two new devices more or less under lock and key, but we were able to get close, anyway. Here is everything we currently know about the two devices, and why it is important.
We begin first with Surface Neo. The device will first be sent to developers within in the coming months . Later, it will reach consumers next year, around the 2020 vacation. There are also some other important things to keep in mind.
First, Neo features two 9.1-inch screens, which when folded together add up to 13 inches. Apparently, it is also the thinnest Gorilla Glass LCD screen ever created. Then the weight is about 654 grams. Judging by the photos of the prototype we took, it also has a polished 360 degree hinge very well hidden between the screens.
You will also notice the detachable magnetic pen on the back of the screen, as seen in this photo of the keynote we took from Panos with Neo. Finally, under the hood, Neo is powered by Intel Lakefield processors, a hybrid processor still unpublished for dual-screen devices.
Why is it important? Because of Windows 10 X
The most important thing about Neo is not the hardware. Instead, it is the fact that you are running Windows 10 X, a version of the Windows Core operating system only for dual-screen devices. This will not only feed Neo, but also a new wave of future devices from HP, Dell and ASUS. Just like when he pioneered the 2-in-1 form factor with Surface Pro, Microsoft is betting heavily on dual-screen devices, and it actually has the software and partners for that, or so we hope.
There is not much we know about Windows 10 X, but we were shown on the stage of the Surface event how two applications (Mail and Edge) could run side by side on the two screens, and how one application can cross the two screens with an "expansion" function. We were also shown that applications could be started on one screen and pushed to the other by dragging the hinge. It was also confirmed that all Windows applications and Office applications will be compatible with Windows 10 X, and developers will not have to worry about changing application coding, although it is less clear exactly how the "expansion" function will work.
In other places, we were shown the "Wonderbar" function of Windows 10 X. Something similar to the TouchBar on the MacBook Pro, this small half portion of the lower screen appears when you connect a physical keyboard to the bottom of Neo It will show emojis, a trackpad, inking options and even work as a small screen. Presumably, if you connect a physical keyboard or a third-party keyboard, the same will happen.
It is also evident that Windows 10 X on Neo and other devices will abandon the traditional start menu. According to The Verge, the new Start menu is similar to the one we saw when a Windows Insider compilation was made public. You will only see a list of anchored applications, a list of recent documents, as well as a search bar and a Start button. There are no more living mosaics.
Then, there is Surface Duo. It also arrives on time for Holiday 2020, this is a dual screen device similar to Neo. However, instead of being a PC, it is intended to mark Microsoft's return to the world of telephony. We saw it especially in Duo's teaser video, where a woman took the device out of her bag while she was already working on Surface Duo and answered a phone call. Anyway, there are a couple of things to notice on this device.
To begin some lists of specifications, the Surface Duo has two separate 5.6-inch glass screens, which fold into an 8.3-inch screen. It is also 4.8 mm thick and has the same 360 degree hinge as Neo. According to The Verge, the demonstration device also has a Snapdragon 855 processor inside. To our surprise, it also works with Android.
There is also some confusion about which cameras are in Duo, since the prototype we saw during the Surface Event only had a front camera. However, MSPoweruser reports that Microsoft had two separate versions of the device. One of them is a black version that YouTuber Marques Brownlee, captured with a camera hole.
Why is it important? Because of Android
But why do you care about all this, as a fan or follower of Microsoft? Well, for the first time, a Microsoft product does not feature a Microsoft operating system. Instead of running Windows, the Duo works with Android. That's right. Microsoft is becoming an Android phone manufacturer.
Damn it if you can, but there's a good reason why. According to press interviews, Panos Panay believes that Android has the applications that people want. This is part of the reason why Microsoft's latest adventure in the world of phones failed. That's you, Windows 10 Mobile.
Anyway, when Panos Panay was asked why Android, this quote from The Verge says it's the best.
"Because there are hundreds of thousands of applications, and you want them. And [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] and I talked about that, and it's about knowing our customers where they are, where they are going to be. I don't think the mobile application platform is going nowhere soon. "
But, Android will not. It will suddenly become the great operating system for Microsoft. The other dual-screen device, Neo still runs Windows. Instead, it seems that Android on Duo is about giving customers the option, again, in the words of Panos through The Verge. What's good, given the failures of Surface RT, Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Mobile.
"You want to give customers what they want in the form factor they are using. We have learned this: let's put the correct operating system in the wrong product or the other way around. But what is the correct operating system for the factor so? And in this case, on mobile devices, Android is the obvious choice, but anything [bigger than] is that Windows is everything "
Great steps forward for the future at Microsoft
By putting everything together, Microsoft is taking a big step forward in its history and has learned from the failure of its past. Making an offer on the PC and dual-screen phone is huge, and Microsoft is preparing to succeed here.
Why? Well, although the company has the physical hardware ready for Duo and Neo, it is waiting for developers to try it first. The company will not launch an operating system without polishing and without applications as it did with Windows 10 Mobile. With Android and Windows 10 X, it allows developers to test products and then launch them first to consumers.
Additional readings: #MicrosoftEvent, Surface Duo, Surface Neo, Windows 10 X