Microsoft who is desperate to take a crack at the smartphone market has developed a new version of Windows 10, designed exclusively for dual-screen and foldable devices called Windows 10X, while also launching a new Neo device running the OS.
This is despite the Company losing billions trying to get consumers to accept a Microsoft Mobile running a Windows OS.
Windows 10X, also known by codename “Santorini,” has not been launched yet and is seen as a future OS for foldable of small portable devices similar to the Samsung Fold.
“We see people using laptops. We see people using tablets. We saw an opportunity both at Microsoft and with our partners to fill in some of the gaps in those experiences and offer something new,” explains Joe Belfiore, head of Windows experiences, in an interview with The Verge.
Overnight the Company introduced the Surface Neo which looks like a big, metal reporter’s notebook and remarkably similar to the dumped Courier Concept that Microsoft was working on 10 years ago.
The Surface Neo slots in between the tablet and notebook categories.
While it folds open it’s not seen as a “foldable” like the Galaxy Fold which has a single flexible panel.
Instead, the Neo has dual 9-inch displays.
Each side of the device is 5.6mm thick, and the whole thing weighs 655g. It has a 360-degree hinge, so you can fold the screens inward to close it or position it like a traditional laptop (there’s an optional keyboard cover). You can also fold the displays outward to prop it up like a tent or use just one of the two LCDs.
Similar to other Surface devices, there’s an intricate hinge that allows the Surface Neo to switch into a variety of modes.
There’s also a new Bluetooth keyboard that flips, slides, and locks into place with magnets, which can be stowed and secured to the rear of the device.
There’s even a new Surface Slim Pen that attaches magnetically, and it’s the same stylus Microsoft is using on the new Surface Pro X.
The new Intel Lakefield processors will power the device.
ChannelNews understands that Acer, Lenovo and Dell, as well as Asus, are all also working on dual-screen or foldable devices that will also run Windows 10X.
According to the Verge Microsoft created Windows 10X in collaboration with its Surface hardware team, though.
“So, when we first got started on this project, obviously, we didn’t have the hardware to start with,” reveals Carmen Zlateff, engineering lead on Windows 10X, in an interview with The Verge. “So, we do all of our prototyping on the Surface Go and Surface Pro… and as soon as the hardware is ready, we started to move that over. We were able to start long before the hardware was actually ready.”
Microsoft claims that the user will be able to use Windows 10X devices in a number of ways:
Note-taking: This mode lets you have one full-screen app on each display, where one could be a browser at the top showing some video content, and the other could be a note-taking app.
Mobile presentation: This places content like a PowerPoint deck on the outside of the device, while you can read notes on the inside and control it with a keyboard.
Portable all-in-one: This places the dual-screen device in a book mode where it can stand on a flat surface, and you use a detachable keyboard to work. It’s similar to how you might use a dual-monitor setup at home.
Reading: This mode involves using the device like a book with one or two hands, and the ability to use a stylus for light note-taking.
Notebook: You’ll be able to use a software or hardware keyboard on one display, with the typical content on the primary display up top.
While reading, presentation, and all-in-one modes are what you’d expect from dual-screen devices, it’s the laptop mode that I was most intrigued by. “These devices can have software keyboards as well as hardware keyboards,” explains Zlateff. “We know that while people have learned well on mobile devices how to type on a screen, it’s just still hard to do that on a PC form factor.”
On Microsoft’s own Surface Neo device, you can slide a hardware keyboard into place on top of one of the displays, and it can be used in clever ways. Unlike all of Microsoft’s other Surface devices, this keyboard attachment doesn’t have a trackpad. Instead, the display acts as a trackpad below or above the keyboard, depending on where you place it. Most modern trackpads are made out of glass, so Microsoft believes it’ll feel natural to use.