Today, Microsoft revealed two of their experimental new products for next year’s holiday season: the Microsoft Surface Neo and Duo.
After revealing the lineup of 2019 Surface products, Panay then said that he wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the future of Microsoft’s products. We got to see a product that’s going to be ready for next holiday, at the end of 2020. After quickly recapping Microsoft’s computer development history and design intentions, Panay finally revealed the Surface Neo. It’s a product that’s smaller, that fits people’s lifestyles, and lets you be as creative as you want. It appears to be a tablet-sized Surface, the smallest in the line yet – and that’s not all. The Neo is shown unfolding like a normal laptop, but instead of a screen and a keyboard, it has two screens. A magnetic pen and flip-up keyboard were also shown, and the keyboard still left a strip of touch-screen available. Many configurations for the device were shown off, including two screens that people sitting across from each other can watch, and a setup with a wireless keyboard.
Every single detail of the design is thought through, Panay says. It was created to be light and thin, every side clocks in at 5.6mm thin. It’s the thinnest LCD ever created, and it weighs 655 grams. There are more than 60 microcoax cables, thinner than a human hair, to create the interaction between the two screens. Any position you want to put this device in, it’ll work. You can use two apps at once, if you want!
Now, Carmen Zlateff, the lead engineer behind the software that runs on the Surface Neo, came out to introduce Windows 10 X, which is designed and optimized for dual screen devices like Surface Neo. There’s a large new Start menu that takes up the entire screen. When you launch an app, it loads on the screen where you initially invoked it. Neo can automatically reflow some apps across the screens. Windows 10X also supports the breadth of WIndows aps, including Office. Unlike multi-monitor desktop setups, it looks like it’s trying to keep everything you have pulled up on a single screen. As soon as she pulled out the keyboard, it turns the second screen into a “Wonder Bar,” which lets you hit some shortcuts, use it as a trackpad, or ink. It looks like a combination of the MacBook Pro’s TouchBar and the ZenBook Pro Duo’s second screen. And yes, you can move entire windows to the Wonder Bar. The number of potential applications are mind-boggling.
Panay returned once more to talk about Intel’s Lakefield processor which powers the Neo. Panay describes it as the next category of PCs. Windows 10X and the Surface Neo is coming during the holidays next year. You can expect to see other devices running it then too. 2020 could be the breakout year for dual-screen systems.
But we aren’t done just yet! After referring to some leaks, it seems there’s one more thing that nobody found out about: a dual-screen phone. It’s called the Microsoft Surface Duo, and it shares many of the Neo’s features. It’s running two separate displays, not a single foldable OLED like Samsung. It can text, write, call, and all that. But Panay declares that it’s also a Surface, because of just how productive you can be with it. Microsoft partnered with Google to pull this thing off, so it runs on Android. It looks incredibly thin, with huge screens and a ton of flexibility. You can hold it like a folded phone, splay it out like a dual-screen PC, and there’s even one mode that shows you the clock on a sliver of the screen. “This is industry pushing technology, and it’s technology pushing possibilities,” Panay declares triumphantly.
“People need to use their phones to be more productive, but phones have their limits,” he continued. Think of starting something in the Mail app and finishing it on your PC. Or when you’re on a video call, get asked a question, and you’re forced to leave the video call when you switch apps. With two screens that support multiple apps at once, those problems go away. The Surface Duo will arrive holiday 2020, alongside the Neo.
Satya Nadella returned to the stage at the end to close out the conference. “Today you saw us reimagine pretty much every part of the tech stack,” Nadella said. “We have a Surface device for everyone to create more wherever they are. It takes me back to that sense of wonder and empowerment that I felt as a 15-year old.”
Once more, the Microsoft Surface Neo and Duo will release during the 2020 holidays. Microsoft is exploring a brave new world when it comes to technological convenience, and it looks like we’ll be seeing more dual-screened devices over the next couple of years. We at CGMagazine will keep watch for the daredevils jumping into the ring, and will bring you news on all the big ones.