The Surface Duo starts shipping today in the United States as Microsoft's first smartphone hardware in years… and on Android to boot. However, there's a part of the narrative missing because back last year the Duo had a sibling, the Surface Neo. Microsoft now insists customers will one day get their hands on the Neo, just not yet.
During a Surface Event during October last year, Microsoft introduced the Surface Duo and Surface Neo. The Duo is an Android smartphone, while the Neo is a Windows 10X tablet-come-laptop. While the underpinning of both devices is different, the hardware is mostly similar, aside from size.
At the time, Microsoft said the Neo and Duo would launch together. Since then, Redmond took a decision to postpone the release of the Surface Neo. Microsoft's reasoning centered on wanting to put the focus of the soon-to-launch Windows 10X on single screen devices. Moreover, the company argued a new form factor is hardly something COVID-19 embattled customers want right now.
Either way, the Neo was put on the back burner. Of course, postponing a device can often mean it has been outright cancelled. So, was Microsoft being truthful about a future launch of the Neo, or was the company using marketing speak to essentially kill off the device?
“Neo is delayed,” said Panay. “I wanted the right time to bring that product with the right experience. We believe in that concept and form factor and size. It will be a beautiful complement to Duo with Windows and I'm excited about it. It's a product that's near and dear to my heart.”
Panay is doing the press rounds promoting the Surface Duo, but it's good to know Microsoft does have long term plans for the Neo.
“The next natural evolution is different [dual-screen] sizes,” Panay continued. “Whether the larger moves into Windows where it's appropriate to use the Windows codebase and software, and the smaller form factor uses Android, I think you can safely say that's the right path with what we're doing right now as a team.”