New year, new device format. As 2019 wraps up, Microsoft is encouraging developers to jump on the dual-screen train, highlighting its upcoming Surface Duo and Surface Neo devices.

Announced in October, the ambitious new entries will give developers more screen real-estate but require increased flexibility. While that could be complex, Microsoft is indicating that this won’t be half as hard as some may expect.

“Your code is important, and you will not have to start anew on these devices. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for your existing websites and apps to work well on dual-screen devices,” said Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president, Windows Developer Platform.

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The Surface Neo will run Windows 10X, a dual-screen optimized variant that has nothing to do with the Surface Pro X. Gallo says devs will able to use ‘existing investments and tools’ to craft Web, UWP, and Win32 apps for the device.

Moving to Android

As a smartphone, the Duo will run Android. Microsoft has made big strides in tying together its ecosystems, but the bulk of dev tools will naturally be Google’s. However, that’s not to say those working outside of Windows will get no help from its creator.

“For native app developers, our goal is to develop a common model layered onto existing platform-specific tools and frameworks for Windows and Android,” said Gallo. “Of course, APIs to access this model will be tailored to the developer platform for each operating system. For example, you can use APIs to enhance your apps to use dual-screen capabilities and features like the 360-degree hinge.”

The team is working on identifying key postures, such as screen positions, that developers can use in their apps. That’s likely to extend beyond first-party devices and into OEM efforts. On the web, Microsoft will also work towards standards and APIs. It’s asking early adopters to reach out at [email protected] and will share information with the rest early next year.

The general sentiment with dual-screen is that we’re yet to see the full capabilities. Desktop users have been taking advantage of multiple screens for some time, but it’s always been a very separated experience. Theoretically, Windows 10X will bring a new world where apps intelligently span across screens. All Microsoft needs to do now is get creative developers on board.

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