When launching the Surface Duo last week, Microsoft officially entered the Android hardware space. What's interesting about the company's smartphone is it is clearly meant for business users. However, how can Microsoft deliver the kind of security enterprise users expect on a platform that is notorious for security problems?
Android is known to be vulnerable because of its open nature. Just a glance of the Surface Duo specs (strong performance, average camera), point to Microsoft wanting its device to be a business users' tool. According the company, it is taking security on the handset seriously.
While many of the security features would be standard on any Android flagship, some are more unique.
For example, Microsoft has added a custom Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). This allows the company to have “full control” over firmware updates. In documentation for the Duo, Microsoft discusses how it plans to handle firmware:
“Microsoft delivers Enterprise-grade security to Surface Duo by writing or reviewing every line of firmware code in house, enabling Microsoft to respond directly and agilely, to potential firmware threats and to mitigate supply chain security risks,” Microsoft says.
At its core, this could allow Microsoft to react to firmware updates independently and more quickly than other Android OEMs. Alternatively, it may mean Android patches issued by Google are not instantly compatible with the device, meaning Microsoft will take longer to engineer the patch.
That remains to be seen, but Microsoft insists the approach gives it more control over security. Microsoft also confirmed it will provide Android and security updates to the Surface Duo for three years.
Microsoft revealed its new Surface Duo Android smartphone will start shipping next month. Pre-orders for the Surface Duo are already open ahead of a Sept. 10 shipping date. Microsoft has slapped a $1,400 price tag on its new smartphone.
It is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 CPU paired with 6GB of RAM. Elsewhere, the Duo gets a pair of 1800 x 1350 AMOLED displays, with 100% SRGB and DCI-PR color accuracy. We now know the device ships with just the one 11MP lens that will offer 4K video recording.