Microsoft Starts the Surface Neo/Duo Dev Story Conversation

Posted on November 25, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Mobile, Android, Microsoft Surface, Windows 10, Windows 10X with 13 Comments

One of the big questions around Surface Neo and Surface Duo is how developers can target these devices with apps. Today, Microsoft finally started that conversation.

“Last month we shared our vision for dual-screen devices, designed to help people get more done on smaller and more mobile form factors,” Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo writes. “Today, we are going to share how developers can unlock this new era of mobile creativity.”

According to Gallo, there are two “stages” for optimizing apps for dual-screen devices like Surface Neo (which will run Windows 10X) and Surface Duo (which will run Android). Existing apps will run fine, he says. But you should try to optimize for the dual-screen experience as well.

As a Windows 10-based device, Surface Neo will support all of the currently-supported Windows developer environments, including “web, UWP, and Win32.” He’s not clear about this—typical for Microsoft these days, unfortunately—but I assume Win32 means everything Win32, including .NET, Windows Forms, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). As an Android-based device, Duo will run all existing web apps and Android-based apps, of course.

Optimizing for dual-screens is where things get interesting, of course.

“Our goal is to develop a common model layered onto existing platform-specific tools and frameworks for Windows and Android,” Gallo admits. “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.”

Developers who are interested in targeting Surface Neo and Duo are asked to please email Microsoft at [email protected] to learn more. Yes, really. But Microsoft says that it will provide more information about these plans “in early 2020.”

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Microsoft Starts the Surface Neo/Duo Dev Story Conversation”

  1. jeff.bane

    We will share those APIs with you as soon as we write them - MS.

  2. bluvg

    It would be really nice if Windows played well and consistently with multiple screens in the first place. On every device I've encountered that has multiple displays, Windows seems to lose its mind every once in a while--even if those displays are never disconnected. That's just at the OS level. Applications themselves often offer terrible or no multi-mon support (Adobe, seriously... and you're a graphics company??). Even when they do, they often don't remember which display something was on (especially when displays are not always connected), and sometimes you have to use the Alt + Space bar > M trick to move a window or dialog back on-screen when it inexplicably shows up off-screen.

    I would love if Microsoft is addressing these long-standing issues!

  3. christian.hvid

    Gallo notes that "Windows 10X is an expression of Windows 10 and will be available on dual-screen and foldable PCs, including the Surface Neo and devices from several partners." I wonder if this means that foldables from HP, Lenovo and others are already in the works?

  4. coachjonno

    I think Microsoft really missed an opportunity here. They could have kept Project Astoria going. Killed for running Android apps too well. Combined with Windows 10 Mobile and both a Microsoft store and Play store on the device, could have bridged the Android app world with Windows in a way that would have been more meaningful.

    • MachineGunJohn

      yeah much better story if this ran windows apps and android apps. Should've been able to run any dual screen app built for neo on the it would have been much better to have all the android malware ineffective

  5. BigM72

    Devs having to email microsoft suggest they are expecting tens of devs, maaaybe hundreds to be interested. Certainly not thousands :)

  6. JCerna

    Typical Microsoft, wants developers to support their new platform but does nothing to be transparent about api, and more importantly a 5 year road map telling us they won't run away after 6 months.

  7. straker135

    Our organisation has settled on supporting iPhone for security reasons. Is there anything to suggest that the Surface Duo will be enterprise security ready with its version of Android or is there far too little information to tell? Asking for a friend in procurement.

  8. steam960

    There needs to be a Windows 10X/Phone combo in there somewhere; who wants to carry a Neo plus an extra smartphone?

  9. factoryoptimizr

    interesting that they don't mention their own Xamarin environment as a cross-platform solution allowing developers to simultaneously target both Neo and Duo. That's a missed opportunity.