Carmel, Libra, and Andromeda are the next wave of Surface Devices

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Brad Sams in Microsoft Surface with 81 Comments

After a few stumbles out of the gate, Microsoft’s Surface brand has become a staple of the industry and has quickly grown into a billion-dollar brand for the company. To help grow to the footprint of the brand, Microsoft is working on updates to its existing products as well as a couple new offerings as well.

I was able to view a few pieces of internal documents that outlined some of the future plans of the Surface brand that identify previously unknown codenames for upcoming products. As with all information of this variety, details could change before the products are released or they could possibly be canceled.

The Surface Pro 6 is internally known as Carmel, the upcoming low-cost Surface Tablet is going by the name of Libra, and then, of course, there is the Andromeda device that we have been talking about for many months.

The Libra tablet is likely the device that Bloomberg reported about earlier this year; a low-cost Surface tablet slated for 2018. The documentation I was able to view aligns with this report and I expect that we will see this device announced before the end of the year.

The Surface Pro 6 (Carmel) does not list a shipping date and considering that Microsoft only recently released the LTE variant of the Surface Pro 5, this product may not arrive as soon as many have hoped. That being said, a refresh of the product is in the pipeline and actively being developed.

And then there is Andromeda; here is where this gets a bit more interesting. According to the documentation, the device is scheduled to be released in 2018.

Microsoft thinks of this hardware as a pocketable device to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience. But the company also says that after the release of their Andromeda device, OEM partners will release similar hardware too – Microsoft is hoping to create a new product category with this hardware.

If this strategy sounds familiar, that’s because this is the same path Microsoft took with the Surface Pro line of devices.

If you look at Intel’s Tiger Rapids prototype that was announced at Computex, this could be the foundation for some of the upcoming OEM devices that fall into the ‘Andromeda’ category.

With all of this being said, the documents I viewed were created under the leadership of Terry Myerson. Seeing as he is now leaving the company, the new leadership could change these plans significantly.

Before anyone asks, there was no release date mentioned for a Surface Laptop or Studio update in the documentation. That being said, the Laptop is mentioned several times as being key to brand and I fully expect that it will be updated in the near future. As for the Studio, I can’t imagine Microsoft abandoning that product at this time and it’s likely that its future was detailed in the documentation that I have yet to see.

While I’d love to know the exact dates for updates to the Surface brand, for me, this is a solid road-map of new hardware that should help to keep the brand vibrant and well respected in the hardware community.

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Comments (86)

86 responses to “Carmel, Libra, and Andromeda are the next wave of Surface Devices”

  1. dontbe evil

    I think they should align for yearly new hw/refresh November release date:


    • surface studio
    • surface pro
    • surface laptop (make this 360 degree)
    • surface book
    • libra
    • andromeda
    • surface hub (maybe every 2 years for this)
    • HoloLens  (maybe every 2 years for this)
    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      Sounds great, but unlikely. I don't think the Surface team is all that big, and they seem to prefer the seemingly slower pace of development. This is reminiscent of Apple and their willingness to keep milking a product as long as possible until they feel like they can (or need to) really make a "meaningful" update. The unpredictable nature of releases probably also helps keep people from holding off on purchases in anticipation of an update.

    • allanwith

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      I don't know how often or when they should release these devices, but I definitely hope they will keep them all.


      And then add to that: Surface Display - like a Surface Studio, but without the computer in the base and with Thunderbolt as the only connection type.

    • Paul Avvento

      In reply to dontbe_evil:


      I think the Laptop, Pro, and new tablet should be May or June to capitalize on student and education purchases. Surface Book and Studio in November. And I think it should be a yearly spec update, with bigger updates (size, form factor, etc.) every 2 years.


  2. starkover

    Brad,

    Maybe pronounce Carmel like the town just south of Monterey, CA. Accent on the second syllable. Makes better sense, but just a guess.

  3. Edward Grego

    Great, more low priced under performing hardware on the market, can't wait to pass it by! Also, "a pocketable device to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience"!?!? Have we gone back to the PDA?? If it's not a cell phone, or a device that looks and acts like a cell phone, with access to all the apps on IOS or Android, this device will be a complete flop.

  4. sandeepm

    From Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile, they made a lot of u-turns that completely defeated the original intent of the design language (that Nokia had fallen for, apart from all the believers) and ruined the Windows Phone operating system, that in my view is the best Operating System from Microsoft ever, in terms of usability and user interface design. And it became 100 times slower to boot and shutdown, apart from all the other issues that have been mostly fixed over time. There is a saying in Hindi, translated: When a jackal sees death, it runs towards the forest.


    If they can fix all that and give a stable on day zero device (like Apple does)and not strip existing features (like they did from Windows Mobile 6.5 to Windows Phone 7), I will buy it when Andromeda comes out. Else I am with the others, wait till it reaches prime time... But that is catch 22. So no two options for Microsoft. Deliver when it is ready... Lately they have been doing a lot of half baked stuff, inspired by their success in delivering incomplete features on Azure that no one seems to be concerned with.

  5. Maktaba

    I am quite certain that the Andromeda device will be cancelled.

    • Robert Wade

      As a diehard Windows phone user, I think there will be a niche of people who will either get one because it's the new shiny bobble or because they legitimately think it will be useful where their current options aren't. But I'm confident it will be niche. How pervasive do you find the 8 inch tablets to be these days? I never see one in the wild. But I routinely see iPads, Android tablets and Surface tablets (there are three people I know of just in the area I work). For me, I already find most of the smartphones far too big (my Lumia 1020 is the perfect size for me, while my 950 that I use for backup is on the ragged edge of being too big). If I actually need something bigger I absolutely go to my SP. THAT is much more productive.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Robert_Wade:

        I am not convinced that it must be a niche. Currently, there are niches of ebook readers because they offer too little functionality, of ruggedised tablets because they are too heavy and expensive, of Chinese iPad clones with Windows because their battery duration is too short etc., of regular Windows tablets because they suffer from some or all of not well handholdable, only intermediate battery duration, too high reflectance of would-be outdoor devices etc., of previous small Surfaces because they are not well handholdable, have too short battery duration, partly had bad operating system variants, of Windows phones because it was a mess of beta versions and eventually killed, of Linux devices because Linux is not ripe for all mobile functionality, soon of foldable devices because their purpose is to break, of Surface Pros because of too many reliabilty issues on average, of premium Android devices because of terrible update support, of Chrometablets because you know.

        All are niche categories compared to iPads because all have severe disadvantages. However, if the advantages of several niche categories are unified without maintaining their prior disadvantages, a new device category is created that can become a winner. E.g. where is the Windows iPad with a tablet display on the front and an ebook reader display on the back, stable because NOT foldable and light because NOT a convertible?

        All rumours about future MS devices point to categories with built-in disadvantages. Why not overcome niche designs and create really good categories? Not to mention overcoming Microsoft's fight against its endconsumers by impossible battery change, astronomic repair prices, hiding this fact before purchase, crapadware in Windows and telemetry.

        • Robert Wade

          In reply to RobertJasiek:
          You and I may be talking about niche in different ways. I'm talking about use-case. Smartphones provide you pretty much all the PC functionality you need on the spur of the moment, but in a form factor that can (in most cases) be easily carried in a pant pocket or clutch purse. While some of these are still far too large for me, they're still in a size and thickness range that is very comfortable to carry. Tablets, in contrast, are a MUCH more productive size range for getting more substantive work done or even simple media consumption. I'm not counting the 8" devices, which I've seen someone carry maybe once. The most common ones are the 10 - 12 inch devices, and includes all three platforms--iPad, Android and Windows. I'm arguing that customers who would find this odd folding dual-screen device that floats in the same space as the 8 inch tablets are a niche group. I'm arguing that most will still prefer the ease-of-carry of a smartphone--even a larger one--or a full blown tablet over something like this folding device. If I'm carrying my backpack, my Surface Pro is absolutely going to be in there and gives me MUCH more capability than any sort of folding device and none of the limitations. If I'm not going to be carrying my backpack, my Lumia 1020 or 950 are more than adequate to the types of work--or play--I might find myself engaging while I'm out.


  6. PeterC

    Good - updated Surface Pro much needed, hopefully I can hang on to my failing SP3 and old desktop long enough to get a higher powered model to be Go to device.


    Libra - Not really a fan of low powered kit at the moment as my need is for allot of number crunching these days. Be interesting to see if it could replace my iPad though, whether I’d go for it is doubtful.


    Andromeda - hmmm a year or two ago I’d have had the money put aside for this purchase already. Now I’m not sure. I’ve spent a fortune since win mobile demise on various android/iOS devices trying to find a happy home for my mobile needs.


    What does really interest me is if andromeda champions new stylus and touch interface which will be ported to surface pro and ARM models too........ that would be a total winner (if it’s any good of course ).

    • cyloncat

      In reply to PeterC:

      Surface Pro 2017 has already become my Go-to device. It's not cheap - i7/16/512 plus 200GB micro SD and Surface Dock. But that handles everything from tablet to portability to desktop (dual 27" Dell monitors through the dock). It runs Photoshop, Visual Studio, SQL Server, plus it's better for movies and reading than my iPad. which has pretty much been demoted to a backup device for reading. It handles my large music and photo libraries just fine, too, with iTunes (yeah, I know; it's a legacy thing) for music organizing and playing. The one thing I'd wish for is an HD card slot.

  7. eitex

    I think the Surface devices are fantastic, and a really viable brand for Microsoft. To date I have had the Surface RT (not great), the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 5 which is my go-to device! I also have a Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2.


    I'm really looking to see what the future holds with regards to Surface!

  8. Tony Barrett

    The entire Surface line has been plagued with hardware and firmware issues, with poor reliability and a high rate of returns. MS may talk up Surface as a premium product that pushes boundaries, but they certainly don't seem to back up those words with quality products. If customers are going to pay those prices, they expect a lot, lot more. Out of 5 Surface Pro's our company bought to look at, one was broke out of the box and wouldn't power on, one failed a week later, another one had a display problem, and all required offsite repair/replacement. We won't be getting any more. Terrible really.

  9. dstrauss

    Not a lot of red meat here - seems like mostly roadmap material that at least validates months of rumors, but nothing to really get excited about - yet.

  10. LocalPCGuy

    When Surface Pros are running trouble free they're awesome devices. The problem is way too many that I've seen have had Windows 10 update failures that never should have occurred. I find it incredulous that Microsoft doesn't run full QA on updates targeted to their own branded devices. They would sell so many more if they did, IMO.

  11. scoob101

    "the upcoming low-cost Surface Tablet is going by the name of Libra"


    If this device doesnt run an ARM chip, its a complete waste of time.


    Tablets MUST have multi day standby time and instant on. Its one of the defining characteristics of the device class.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to scoob101:

      Yes, nobody ever turns off devices anymore. they expect them to be ready the next time they push the power button. That is why Intel is toast and ARM is the future. I have a ridiculous (but very lovely) $800 HP laptop....even if I turn it completely OFF OFF OFF, the battery is totally gone in 10 days. Turn an iPad completely off and come back in a YEAR, and the battery will probably be little changed.

      • skane2600

        In reply to JG1170:

        It's funny. sandeepm says "Only truck drivers and janitors carry phones in shirt pockets" and you say "nobody ever turns off devices anymore". So I guess I must be a nobody who is surprisingly qualified to be janitor or truck driver.

        • Robert Wade

          In reply to skane2600: I thought the same thing. These extreme absolutes. "Nobody", "everyone". At least I recognize I'm in the extreme minority of consumers. And, as stupid as I think these folding devices are, I at least acknowledge there will be a niche group who find them useful and worth the ridiculous amounts of money they will undoubtedly pay for them.


          • Jorge Garcia

            In reply to Robert_Wade:

            By nobody, I just mean normal everyday people, not people like us who read Thurrott and comment. Literally everybody I know (I am a college educated professional in metro Los Angeles) has zero patience for computers anymore, after the iPhone and iPad redefined how battery life and standby ability should be. I myself still LOVE my Windows machine(s), but everyone else that I know only touches Windows when and if their employment/paycheck requires it.

            • skane2600

              In reply to JG1170:

              If you meant "normal everyday people", you should have said that instead (although it's an undefined group). Nevertheless even if "everybody you know" had this belief (and I seriously doubt you've polled them all), your limited circle of acquaintances wouldn't even represent a blip of data relative to the world at large.

      • rupertholmes

        In reply to JG1170: And the iPad has onboard GPS, like my other real tablets. Onboard GPS would open a new navigation software market for Surface devices.


  12. Jorge Garcia

    So Andromeda = the digital pocket notebook. The sizing will be key. If it is too big for a shirt pocket, that might actually kill sales (assuming anybody is even interested in a digital pocket notebook.

    • sandeepm

      In reply to JG1170:

      your suggestion, if adopted, is sure to kill sales. It needs to be a 6.5 to 7" borderless phone format and twice as big in tablet mode. Only truck drivers and janitors carry phones in shirt pockets... There are Nokia feature flip phones for them.

      • Robert Wade

        In reply to sandeepm: Well, 6.5 to 7 is already too large, as far as I'm concerned. I have a Lumia 950 that is somewhat annoying to throw in my back pocket (much less a front pocket!!!!!) compared to my 1020. And you know any folding device is going to be much thicker, making it even more ridiculous to put in ANY pocket unless you're a giant. So, no.


      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to sandeepm:

        Actually, the device you describe, due to being border-less, would still fit in a lot of pockets, so we are actually describing the same thing. I would personally stop at 6" but 7" might still work. If they go to 8", it is a total deal breaker...might as well carry a man purse and a small laptop at that point.

    • Steve78

      In reply to JG1170:

      Andromeda = product no one asked for, needed or wanted.


      DOA.

      • Robert Wade

        In reply to Steve78: I wouldn't go that far. But I think once the novetly wears off, it may not even have the life span that Windows phones did. What problem was this thing meant to the solution for? Outside of the niche user, I don't see it doing well.


  13. John Noonan

    Will Microsoft ever make Continuum actually work on their first party hardware as promised (The machine never goes into the correct mode based on dock, keyboard, or lack thereof)? I doubt it. My Surface is a good machine, but it has never been a great machine. It is a sad state of affairs when they can't make their system function perfectly on their own hardware.

    • sandeepm

      In reply to John_Noonan:

      there are glitches in Continuum but it is not that bad. I love the HP lapdock with my Elite x3. If it were not for Microsoft to abandon the Mobile platform and not have a Skype for business Continuum edition (USB audio support for conferencing would also help), I could have been flying to work, leaving the bulky laptop home. If they bring back continuum from the grave, they need to add touch support, else better let it RIP and let the competition make customers happy

  14. glenn8878

    Surface seems to be all about premium pricing with shoddy hardware. The "low-cost Surface tablet" had better be a quality device, but eventually the issue is Windows is not suitable as a mobile or tablet device. The UI runs off the screen and you can't get it back since the title bar is hidden. This was the biggest frustration. The second biggest frustration is File Explorer requires a mouse and it was never updated for mobile. I'll keep my money elsewhere.

    • bbold

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Wait a minute. Premium pricing, I'll agree with. Prices are actually in alignment with Apple's, but... 'Shoddy hardware'? I have a Surface Book 2 and it's the most amazing device I've ever used! As an artist, student and writer, it's PERFECT for my needs. Plus I can use all those crazy work PC apps and programs that won't run on a Mac. This is coming from a 20 year Mac user (previously). I do not agree with your opinions, but hey, to each his own. Would you prefer a MacBook Pro with a super flat unusable keyboard in Apple's walled-garden OS? Good luck with that, and please keep your money. (Say hi to that super useful 'touch bar!' for me.) lol I'll just touch my screen, thanks! :D

  15. Chris_Kez

    Very exciting news, and reminiscent of the big roadmap leak from summer 2012 that first brought Hololens into view (known then as "Project Fortaleza"). I wonder what the timeline looked like at that point, and how close their estimate was for bringing it to market.

  16. dsharp75

    Finally! Been waiting on Andromeda it seems like forever. Can't wait for my pocketable full pc experience with excellent battery life, always on connectivity at 4glte - 5g speeds and excellent pressure sensitive writing, drawing experience as my go to companion. Can anyone say Surface PocketBook?

  17. zorb56

    Here's to hoping a new Surface Pro comes soon!

  18. simont

    Libra device make sense as a Windows S mode device.


    Its going to be an interesting year for Surface devices (hopefully this year)

  19. Robert Wade

    The only device I'm looking forward to is the smaller Surface tablet. I like the idea of having a slightly smaller, but still an actually USABLE form factor (unlike whatever Andromeda will be) as a back up for my 2017 Surface Pro. I just don't see any value whatsoever in a "folding screen" that can be carried in a purse, versus an actual smartphone that is easily used without attaching, unfolding or whatever and that fits in a REAL person's pocket.

    • 1armedGeek

      In reply to Robert_Wade:


      Maybe it wouldn't be useful for you. However, I would love to try it. I think it would work for me. I don't put stuff in my pockets. I am in a wheelchair with a very high back (think front seat in a vehicle) and can't reach back to grab stuff from a backpack. Contrary to what some people think, real people's needs differ.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Robert_Wade:

      I just don't see any value whatsoever in a "folding screen" that can be carried in a purse...


      So, there are these things called books... ;)


      Seriously, though, I think it is an interesting form factor to try. People have been using “book” style objects for centuries, if not millennia. I agree that I don’t see huge advantages for myself over the simple “slab” style devices we currently have, but one never knows.


      And, as mentioned by a few, it might be a game-changer for some.

      • skane2600

        In reply to curtisspendlove:

        The form of books are the result of their physical nature and that of the human body. It's awkward to hold a heavy object in one hand for extended periods and the pages you've already read have to go somewhere. Thus the two-page form is better than the flip-form.


        A electronic "slate" can be made fairly light and the unused "pages" don't have to be held in place like they would for a book. Also keep in mind that the user of an electronic device will be using their hand to interact with the screen more often than they would turning the pages of a book. Thus a lot of the time a person using a foldable device would be holding it in one hand anyway.


        So I don't think the long history of the book format has much to say about the desirability of a foldable mobile device. The advantage I'd see is its more compact nature when closed although I'm not sure how important potential customers would see that.

  20. bbold

    Why would they let Terry go if they were so focused on following said documentation created under his leadership? Doesn't seem like a good sign, and I'd like to see some more concrete proof (such as a press release from Microsoft committing itself to innovations in hardware) which I know will never come. Microsoft consistently has an extremely bad PR (public relations) situation and needs to step up to the plate, release new hardware competitively and early, and be invested fully in order to compete with Google and Apple and stay in the game. What's going on up there in Redmond? Fire the PR department and get some fresh blood up in there.

  21. dcdevito

    Brad, you're on fire today! Wow

  22. plm

    Any of these smaller devices expected to support always connected pc initiative?


    I've been looking for an 8-inch tablet with LTE and everything I find (Android and Apple) is very old in technology years. Maybe the market for such a device is too small.


    But any news on that front?

  23. Elan Gabriel

    I read everything here, but for the first time in my life - felt nothing. Not excitement, not anger, not curiosity. I'm using Outlook and Xbox, and some other MS software, but I just don't care about these products. Never again early adopter, never again investing time and money with new MS hardware/services. Talk to me once they hit third revision for these products, proven not to get cancelled or feature stripped.

  24. Nic

    I mean I'm not going to say Brad's hardware things are untrustworthy, but Elite controller at E3? lol ;)

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