Surface phone render Bartlomiej Tarnowski
Surface Phone Concept, Credit: Bartlomiej Tarnowski

So close, and yet so far seems to be a fitting tagline for the Surface Phone. Microsoft’s apparent game-changing mobile device has been rumoured for years but has never launched. In recent months the device materialized into a reality thanks to Microsoft’s AndromedaOS. However, it seems this was another false dawn as Surface Phone has reportedly been postponed.

ZDNet reports Microsoft has put the device on hold as it irons out issues with Andromeda. This means the OS and the device will not ship later this year alongside Windows 10 Redstone 5.

This time it all seemed so different as there was genuine fire with the rumor smoke. Andromeda is real and Microsoft has openly discussed the device that would accompany the OS. The company was also reportedly working on apps with developers, and included Andromeda in its Surface roadmap.

With Redstone 5 set to launch this fall, the report suggests Microsoft did not have enough time to prepare the OS. That would mean the Surface Phone with Andromeda will come later, maybe for next year’s spring Windows 10 update?

Actually, no. The ZDNet report says Microsoft may even kill off the Surface Phone entirely but keep Andromeda. We already know that the OS was specifically for a folding dual-screened device. That hardware was expected to be pocket-sized and fit the ethos of the mobile revolution Microsoft has discussed before.

We have been excited about a smartphone that has the full capabilities of a laptop and with some nifty hardware innovations through folding dual-screens. It may have worked, or it may have failed, but it would have been interesting.

Instead, the report suggests Microsoft will use Andromeda in a PC/Laptop-sized device. Yes, it may still have a dual screen (laptops are already foldable so that quirk becomes the norm), but it will be far less exciting.

App Problem

It seems Microsoft is backing out of the Surface Phone because it was concerned about the lack of apps. A mobile device would only run apps from the Microsoft Store, while a laptop would also have desktop applications. The same problem that scuppered Windows Phone seems alive and well and Microsoft simply can’t solve it.

While many would suggest opening the device to Android, that is unlikely to ever happen. Instead, it may mean Microsoft is simply unwilling to make the Surface Phone. Lastly, it is interesting that the report suggests the recent leaks were from internal devotees of the project. Those Microsoft employees were hoping to drum up support to revive the Surface Phone.

Of course, despite the excellent source, this is still just a rumor. In fact, the whole Andromeda/Surface Phone saga is still in the realm of speculation.