Surface phone…


A lot has been written and speculated about this vaporware device.  There is no doubt that this phone will not help Microsoft in the phone wars.  As Paul has written many times this war is lost and Windows mobile is on life support waiting for the next big thing.  In recent write up Paul speculates that AI is the next big thing and as I do agree with Paul that AI is going to be a big category, I disagree with him that AI will be the only big thing.

Apple seems to think that Augmented reality is the next big thing based on reports coming out a couple weeks back.  Maybe that is because they know that they are not well positioned on the AI front, but maybe they are right.  

Why I mention this is because of the supposed Surface phone.  As nothing is known about this mystery phone, speculation is abound with ideas.  Most point to the HP Elite as the brain child of what Microsoft plans to do with the phone.  However, since we are just speculating.  Why couldn’t it be something more than a PC in your pocket.  After all Surface is all about inventing new categories.

 I would suggest something that would A) position Microsoft back into the mobile world and not as a phone and B) jump start the next big thing, in this case Augmented Reality.  A phone/hololens mashup.  As I understand it the hololens is powered by an Atom processor, something a phablet type device could power.  So essentially the phone is the engine and a peripheral like a sunglasses would house the lens and the kinect sensor.  Whether tethered or a wireless dispay these glasses would be a lot slimer than a hololens and with the right design features possibly fashionable.  Add the capabilities of an HP Elite with its continuum features and I believe this type of device could present a better future than its phone/continuum strategy.

Thoughts?  I know this is more a dream scenario, but I believe it has merits and would differentiate it from competitors like Google and Apple who are still just perfecting an familiar concept.


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  1. 1 | Reply
    DemBones - 2 weeks ago

    Microsoft clearly believes in the "One Windows" concept and seems to believe Continuum and having a phone-sized device act as your main computer is the way of the future.  The idea has some merit, but the questions is whether or not Microsoft is the company to lead that charge.  Based on the features coming to mobile in Redstone 2, their aim seems to be to have a phablet like device connect wirelessly to any form factor from tablet to desktop.  It's an idea that may be ahead of its time and, personally, I think MSFT is the wrong company to push that evolution.  They simply don't have enough of a halo effect in the mobile arena, too few apps, and too few cheerleaders in the tech press to be successful.  If Apple released a similar product, it would have a much better chance at success.  Imagine an iPhone that connected seamlessly to a large screen to become an Ipad Pro or MacBook Air.  Frankly, as much as Paul likes to push Google as the threat to Microsoft's desktop dominance, that scenario is far more likely to hurt MSFT, IMO.

    All that being said, whether or not a Surface "Phone" could be successful depends on your definition of success.  If it can carve out a niche market and be profitable the way other the Pro and Book have been, that would be a success from a business standpoint and might be enough to justify the existence of such a device.  Even the biggest Windows mobile supporters understand the platform will never be more than a far distant third.  I think we're all ok with that so long as there is a least one decent mobile sized device that runs Windows, I think we'd all be satisfied.  In a similar vein, Windows Phone is dead, but that doesn't mean we won't see Windows 10 (One Windows) on a phone-sized screen.  MSFT does not want different operating systems, they want one operating system that adapts to different screen sizes and scenarios.  Therefore, Windows on a small screen will never really be dead.  I'm guessing they are pretty disappointed by the slow uptake of UWP apps which hurts the migration to One Windows.

    In any event, I'll continue to use my 950XL so long as it makes phone calls, gets texts, allows me to check the stock apps (Weather, News, Money, etc), sync my calendar and email.  The trolling of "Windows Phone" and its death is past the point that it bothers me.  Outside of the significant apps issue, it is, IMO, the best, most advanced phone OS.  I'll only go back to iOS kicking and screaming and don't think I'll ever go back to Android.

    1. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #1159 - 2 weeks ago

      In reply to DemBones:

      MSFT hopes that small devices, preferably multiple devices per user, each requiring an OS license, is the future. Uncomfortably for MSFT, the other main possibility for the future is everything in the cloud with any & all local, physical devices being able to connect to the cloud.

  2. 1 | Reply
    QuietNine - 2 weeks ago

    "There is no doubt that the surface phone will not help MS in the phone wars."

    Well, you're already starting off with one hell of an assumption.

    I think we can mostly agree that their goal is to create a new paragidm, and that the device they use to do so will be phone-capable, so it very well may effect the phone wars (even if its just for certain use cases).

    I don't think microsoft is going to let us or their competitors see their next-big-thing until it has some matter too it. Hololens, Band, Surface book, those were all well kept secrets (perhaps less so the last example but it is less of a leap and was still under pretty good wraps). My opinion is, they would not have showed us continuum 1.5 - 2 yrs ahead of surface phone if that was the game changer. I dont think MS would be promoting the Elite X3 if it was basically everything surface phone was supposed to be.

    So I guess I think you're right, it will be more than a PC in your pocket, whatever "more" is.


  3. 0 | Reply
    kshsystems Alpha Member #443 - 2 weeks ago

    Windows 10 mobile has an app perception problem, so why not release surface phone with Windows 10 mobile and include an android emulator? Complete with the ability to download and run UWP or Android apps?

    1. 0 | Reply
      Sprtfan Alpha Member #153 - 2 weeks ago
      In reply to kshsystems:

      That was basically what Project Astoria was.  It added the ability to tie into some Microsoft API's I believe to replace services that would normally go though Google.  Some say it was dropped because it worked to well and would give developers no reason to make UWP apps.  Some say that it made Windows 10 unstable and slowed it down.  Either way I think Microsoft looked into doing this and decided against it for one reason or another. 

    2. 0 | Reply
      kshsystems Alpha Member #443 - 2 weeks ago
      In reply to Sprtfan:

      There might be copyright or other legal challenges but I was thinking that a native windows 10 phone with Microsoft store and Google play store icons on the desktop would go along way.  Use project Astoria but not as an app bridge, but she'll extension of sorts

    3. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #1159 - 2 weeks ago

      In reply to Sprtfan:

      Would the Android emulator affect battery life?

  4. 0 | Reply
    skborders Alpha Member # - 2 weeks ago

    IMO I do believe they are working on a phone, whether they release it or not, will depend on sales/uptake of the HP Elite X3. While I would love to have it, I am not sure any businesses were clamoring for it or anything like it.

  5. 0 | Reply
    TEAMSWITCHER - 2 weeks ago

    Funny, but accurate.

  6. 0 | Reply
    naveen Alpha Member # - 2 weeks ago

    The Surface phone should be a Microsoft phone running Android with Continuum support and all default Microsoft services. Thats the only way the Surface phone has even a candle of a chance. 

    1. 0 | Reply
      GarethB - 2 weeks ago
      In reply to naveen:

      I've been thinking exactly the same. As much as I'd like a top-spec WP device from MS, it really doesn't make any sense to do.

      All the Android companies have the same issue - Google Play.  It would make sense for MS, Amazon, probably Samsung too, to collaborate having the same App Store backend (even if the apps were different), to wrest Googles control of the platform, or more particularly to make the Open Source Android (AOSP) useful.

    2. 0 | Reply
      rtodd_us Alpha Member #1012 - 2 weeks ago
      In reply to naveen:

      I'm thinking more along the lines of speculated project Beihai as evidence of them trying to use phone/continuum in a holographic setting.  Here is a link 

  7. 0 | Reply
    inlocoabsentia Alpha Member # - 2 weeks ago

    The holographic magic of the HoloLens is powered by custom silicon. I doubt they could shove that into a suitable phone form factor.

  8. 0 | Reply
    h8zgray Alpha Member #324 - 2 weeks ago

    Too bad that the software bridge efforts that were announced last year could not be leveraged in order to make a Surface Phone or Windows Mobile more attractive to those using iOS or Android. Imagine having WinMo 10 complete with Continuum plus optional emulation for iOS or Android apps (maybe as a paid service via one's MS account that could even be accessible on other Win 10 devices). Today's hardware could easily support this, plus I would imagine a lot of work was done already to either emulate or port these apps to Windows 10.

    Of course this did not really work for Blackberry, but Microsoft's operating system is used on a huge variety of devices by consumer and enterprise customers.

    Applause to DemBones for continuing to use his 950XL, its a great phone and I just hope there still can be a viable future for Windows 10 mobile.