Skip to main content

Microsoft details secret ‘pocketable’ Surface device in leaked email

Microsoft details secret ‘pocketable’ Surface device in leaked email

/

A new and disruptive dual-screen device to blur the lines between mobile and PC

Share this story

Pocketable Surface concept
Pocketable Surface concept
Concept art by David Breyer

Microsoft has been working on a new mysterious Surface device for at least two years. Codenamed Andromeda, the device has appeared in patents, reports, and in operating system references multiple times and will include a dual-display design. According to a Microsoft internal document obtained by The Verge, it’s also going to be a pocketable Surface device.

Microsoft describes its Andromeda project as something the company has quietly incubated internally, and that will create a “new and disruptive” device category to influence the overall Surface roadmap and blur the lines between what’s considered PC and mobile. “It’s a new pocketable Surface device form factor that brings together innovative new hardware and software experiences to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience,” is exactly how Microsoft describes the device internally. Thurrott originally reported some of Microsoft’s plans earlier this month, and Numerama originally unveiled the Andromeda codename last year. Microsoft declined to comment on Andromeda to The Verge.

Microsoft originally introduced Surface RT and Surface Pro six years ago as devices that were designed to create a new category to challenge the differences between a tablet and laptop. The Surface Pro has successfully disrupted laptops and tablets, and everyone — including Apple to some extent — is copying the Surface approach now. Microsoft’s Andromeda is the next major bet to challenge what we consider a phone and a PC.

The Andromeda device is still being developed in secrecy inside Microsoft, with a wraparound display that bridges the gap of the hinge when it’s fully opened. We understand current engineering samples of the pocketable Surface look identical to the 3D concept created by David Breyer.

Stylus input will be key for Andromeda

Microsoft has also been experimenting with stylus input for Andromeda, so that the device can fold over like a book and a pen can be used to capture digital ink. Prototype devices include styluses and notepad-like apps to capture notes. Microsoft is also experimenting with ARM processors inside prototype Andromeda devices, but it’s not clear if the company will proceed with Intel or Qualcomm for a final device.

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Andromeda work caution that the company could pull the plug at any stage. Microsoft previously developed a notepad-like “Surface Mini” device that was weeks away from release before being canceled. Surface chief, Panos Panay, confirmed the existence of a Surface Mini, describing the canceled device as “awesome” and “like a Moleskine.”

Microsoft views Andromeda as a unique response to its failures with Windows Phone devices. “It will blur the lines between mobile and stationary computing,” reads one internal document describing the device. Microsoft is tentatively planning to release Andromeda in 2018, with similar devices from some of Microsoft’s top OEMs to “follow afterwards.”

Intel is also working on similar dual-screen devices that will eventually take advantage of Microsoft’s software work with Andromeda. Intel has created prototype devices with both dual displays and electronic paper displays (EPD), and it’s sharing reference designs with its OEM partners. Asus and Lenovo are creating devices that are inspired by Intel’s own concepts, and at least one device will be available later this year.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 25 Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.