Microsoft Surface Duo Spotted Out in the World (Now with Video)

Update: As several have noted in the comments and forums, there is a video available now as well. –Paul

A Twitter user snapped a photo of someone using a preproduction Surface Duo on a commuter train in Vancouver. Naturally, everyone is overthinking this.

“Hey, not sure if interesting, but I just saw a guy in Vancouver’s SkyTrain playing around with Surface Duo,” Israel Rodriguez tweeted. Got photos and videos.”

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Not sure if it’s interesting. Hilarious.

The still image he posted shows a Surface Duo in a person’s hands. Completely meeting my expectations, that person is only using one of its displays. The other just shows the Android home screen.

He’s also propping up one side of the device on his leg, no doubt because using the surprisingly large-looking device with one hand would be difficult. But you can clearly see the thickness of the device, plus the hinge in the middle. It seems like more a tablet than a phone, frankly.

Some bloggers—who approach such photos as a cryptozoologist does a purported photo of Bigfoot—believe they see a flash on the top of one display. That’s because Microsoft never discussed whether it would even have a front-facing camera and, well, we gotta over-analyze the details. I agree it looks like one.

We’re also hearing the first rumors that Surface Duo might even ship sooner than expected. That is, sometime in the first half of the year instead of for the holiday season. If that’s the case, I’ll further guess that the first release will be for developers. And what the heck, Microsoft is hosting its annual Build developer show in May.

You gotta dream.

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Conversation 58 comments

  • mclark2112

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 8:46 am

    <p>I don't think it is propped on his leg, the perspective is funny. But looking at the distance to his left leg, and the size of his hand, I think the device is much closer tot he camera than his legs. So the device is actually smaller than it would appear, if comparing it to his right leg. </p><p><br></p><p>I do however agree, I am not sure how I would use dual screens on a phone-size device. Humans can't truly multitask, so even if one screen is just a bunch of alerts, it would just be a distraction from what you are actually trying to focus on.</p><p><br></p><p>That being said, I am still somewhat intrigued by this form factor, but I'm mostly interested in the Duo's big brother. I can see that being a little more useful. But, since it will be running a gutted version of Windows, and its success will rely completely on developers interest, I am not too bullish on it being around for long.</p><p><br></p><p>I already hate the limitations (mostly legacy software such as VPN clients, or other older work apps) of my Surface Pro X.</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      07 February, 2020 - 9:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518843">In reply to mclark2112:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes. Multiple screens can be good in some situations. I do a lot of work where I have to research something and keep notes, great, left side reference, right side notes. I do a lot of support, so reference information or documentation to be filled out on the left, TeamViewer session, remote server etc. on the right. </p><p>But a mobile screen is too small for anything serious, so I don't think it will be that popular.</p>

  • javial

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 8:57 am

    <p>I really don't know how bad is Microsoft doing things since 2010: Windows 8.x, 10; Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019; Skype 8, Office 2013-2019, Visual Studio 2013-2019, Exchange Server 2013-2019, XBox One, etc. </p><p><br></p><p>I remember when Windows 98 allows multimonitor and multiple PCI Graphics Card. In that 1998 year i configure my PC with 3 graphics cards and 3 monitors running impressive under Windows 98. Allows me a big desktop and options to resize any windows and any program to extend through the 3 monitors. Or put 3 differents windows or programs maximized one per monitor. There are no programs specifically developed to use or allow more than one monitor, but runs very well and impresive in multimonitor configurations because all the multimonitor support and management is do by the underlaying OS, in this case Windows 98.</p><p><br></p><p>And now Microsoft is showing a new mobile OS to support dual screen and develops and SDK to build specific dual screen apps.</p><p> </p><p>Given that most mobile devices will always be with one screen, who is going to risk developing apps for a few with 2 screens?</p><p><br></p><p>Doesn't Microsoft have the capacity to develop an OS with support for multiple screens and that any app already developed works and adapts correctly to multiple screens like Windows?</p><p><br></p><p>I think that since 2010 Microsoft has been losing its head and north and there is no longer anyone smart even with a little common sense in that company. They have had to replace intelligence and common sense with AI and telemetry.</p>

    • anoldamigauser

      Premium Member
      07 February, 2020 - 11:31 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518846">In reply to JaviAl:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes, and the stock price just went through $185 per share. Clearly, they are doing something wrong.</p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      07 February, 2020 - 11:37 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518846">In reply to JaviAl:</a></em></blockquote><p>Mobile doesn't have windows so everything is full screen. Would your three screens be useful if Outlook covered them all? That's why there are special API's to make use of the dual screens.</p>

  • bnyklue

    07 February, 2020 - 9:13 am

    <p>I still don’t see why anyone would actually use this thing. </p>

    • jean

      07 February, 2020 - 9:29 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518849">In reply to bnyklue:</a></em></blockquote><p>rotate it by 90° and use one screen as a full keyboard – still small but likely 3 times bigger than actual virtual keyboards – quite useful for productivity apps on the go IMHO</p>

      • BrianEricFord

        07 February, 2020 - 11:14 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#518850">In reply to jean:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I love how the iPad has earned a (nonsense) reputation as a device that can’t do productivity (“it’s only for consumption!”) and now Microsoft tapes a 2nd phone to a phone and it’s a “quite useful” productivity device.</p><p><br></p><p>Ugh.</p><p><br></p><p>I’m just gonna say it: Smartphones are SO good that tech companies are losing their damn minds trying to convince people there’s something even better they should spend money on.</p>

        • EraseYourself

          07 February, 2020 - 11:27 am

          <blockquote><a href="#518894"><em>In reply to BrianEricFord:</em></a><em> It wasn’t nonsense and is why they separated the OS from iPhone. The IPad OS even though it’s still new it’s leaps better then it used to be and is far more useful. </em></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      07 February, 2020 - 11:40 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518849">In reply to bnyklue:</a></em></blockquote><p>Then don't buy one if you don't see a use for it. Personally I could see having something like your email on one screen and your calendar on the other screen or an image on one screen and the controls to edit that image on the other screen.</p>

    • Todd Northrop

      07 February, 2020 - 12:49 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518849">In reply to bnyklue:</a></em></blockquote><p>Hmm. That's the exact same thing people said when the iPad was introduced. Lots of mocking articles like this one too.</p>

    • plettza

      07 February, 2020 - 6:49 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518849">In reply to bnyklue:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Yep. There couldn't possibly be a reason someone, anyone somewhere in this world would use this device.</p>

  • Chris_Kez

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 10:06 am

    <p>The Twitter user says he has video. That would be much more interesting than this photo.</p>

  • reformedctrlz

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 10:13 am

    <p>I think it may be somewhat niche, but the two screens could end up being situationally very useful. Personally I hate large phones, but having a phone that can flip entirely over and keep a small footprint when you don't need it would be a great way to have a bigger phone (aka small tablet) when you want it while keeping a small footprint.</p><p><br></p><p> Also, from experience, both Android and Apple have terrible multitasking UI, but what MSFT has built on the two screen device looks rather amazing. While people can't truely multitask" we do our darndest an awful lot of the time. Even simple things like watching a video while replying to a message. Looking up restaurants will video calling. Having both Maps and Music visible while driving.</p><p><br></p><p>I don't think this phone will be for everyone, for but the people who want it they will love it, and I think that is where Surface does well. The biggest problem I can think of with this phone will be making sure the processor can keep up with both displays and if MSFT stays on top of updates. Pricing will also be a big deal – I think if they can nail sub $1300 with good storage configs they'll have a sweet spot.</p><p><br></p><p>Personally, I enjoy my Pixel 4 with its small size and simple form factor, but I keep being drawn to this device and can't help but be tempted. I'm very interested in seeing what MSFT shows off with the Neo/Duo this year, but I'm currently expecting to pick up one of them later this year.</p>

  • PeterC

    07 February, 2020 - 10:33 am

    <p>I just showed a bunch of the senior leadership team ….. outlook in split screen mode on my iPad, with calendar in one view and mail in the other, and then the Duo picture above of the device it will run on. Discussed using other apps in other windows, note taking, Skype, voice etc.</p><p><br></p><p>Totally sold and a done deal. Just gotta get the price reasonably right. I accept it’s not for everyone, especially desktop jockeys who aren’t required to be that mobile, but for those that are it’s barely a questionable purchase…. really. </p><p><br></p><p>These are not consumer phones, and should not be valued against such devices in my opinion, they’re a foldable iPad with “phone capabilities”….. </p><p><br></p>

    • SvenJ

      07 February, 2020 - 9:14 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#518890"><em>In reply to PeterC:</em></a><em> </em>I'm surprised the senior leadership team was impressed. I can do that on my Surface Go, Pro, and any other Windows PC. Run in Tablet mode my Go does that quite well. Windows already allows that split if you have two screens. You can span a single application over two screens as well, the main and external monitor, already. These are just smaller, cell phone sized screens. I really don't see much 'exciting' here in that respect. They could have done this years ago with Windows Mobile or Windows Phone. I had foldable phones that had a screen on one side and a keyboard on the other. Replace the keyboard with another screen and you got it, along with the associated progression of hardware, resolution, processors, memory, etc.</blockquote><p><br></p>

      • PeterC

        08 February, 2020 - 3:26 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#519043">In reply to SvenJ:</a></em></blockquote><p>The key is the foldability, mobility and portability form factor and yes android os app possibilities, but with productivity focus of MS. </p>

        • SvenJ

          10 February, 2020 - 3:27 am

          <blockquote><a href="#519072"><em>In reply to PeterC:</em></a><em> </em>I get the benefits. Just saying MS could have done<em> this </em>years ago.</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • VancouverNinja

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 10:35 am

    <p>It appears thinner than my iPhone, and looks light. We are developing sales team mobility applications and the single screen phone format is not good for true mobile productivity. </p><p><br></p><p>When we explored spreading out an app across two screens it made the app. Many mobile workers are carrying phones and tablets or laptops; for a majority of a sales person’s needs this will eliminate the requirement to use a tablet or laptop for many scenarios and make accomplishing tasks very efficient. </p><p><br></p><p>They may still need to keep a laptop or tablet for a presentation but quickly getting their tasks done will not require either of them anymore. And for some sales people this could end up being the only device they require in the field.</p><p><br></p><p>Once single screen film becomes viable for mobile phones, within this decade, it will render tablets absolutely redundant and they will generally disappear and only be used for vertical market applications.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • PeterC

      07 February, 2020 - 10:38 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518891">In reply to VancouverNinja:</a></em></blockquote><p>Exactly</p>

    • anoldamigauser

      Premium Member
      07 February, 2020 - 11:28 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518891">In reply to VancouverNinja:</a></em></blockquote><p>Tablets won't become redundant, they will just become foldable and have voice calling capabilities; and we will call then phones.</p>

      • VancouverNinja

        Premium Member
        07 February, 2020 - 2:00 pm

        <p>That's funny – always a different way to look at something. ;-)</p>

  • eric_rasmussen

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 12:26 pm

    <p>I'm imagining this could be useful for developers too. You'd need to carry a Bluetooth keyboard with you, but an ssh session on one screen and a web site on the other could be pretty useful. It sounds silly because then why don't you just carry a laptop, but in this situation it means you only need one charger and you're also not reliant on WiFi availability.</p>

    • SvenJ

      10 February, 2020 - 3:25 am

      <blockquote><a href="#518940"><em>In reply to Eric_Rasmussen:</em></a><em> </em>I already only need one charger, USB-C, and don't need WiFi, laptop has LTE.</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • crp0908

    07 February, 2020 - 1:02 pm

    <p>What is that line across the Android home screen? Does this device have a cracked screen already?</p>

    • itmaster68

      07 February, 2020 - 1:25 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518982">In reply to crp0908:</a></em></blockquote><p>Looks like lightening bolt in the background image</p>

    • factoryoptimizr

      07 February, 2020 - 2:55 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#518982"><em>In reply to crp0908:</em></a></blockquote><blockquote><em>It's a missile/rocket launch…probably from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Travis

    07 February, 2020 - 2:19 pm

    <p>The Nintendo DS family has sold over 154 million units in its lifetime. There must be some people out there that like dual screens. Count me as one of them. </p>

  • gogogodzilla

    07 February, 2020 - 2:38 pm

    <p>It's definitely not resting on the users leg. </p>

    • anderb

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2020 - 6:27 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518990">In reply to gogogodzilla:</a></em></blockquote><p>It's actually resting on the external battery pack that they haven't told you about yet.</p>

  • steam960

    07 February, 2020 - 2:46 pm

    <p>Why would I buy a Surface device to wind up with only an Android system? Can't Microsoft get a processor similar to the SQ1 in this thing that can handle Windows 10X?</p>

    • MikeCerm

      07 February, 2020 - 5:44 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518991">In reply to steam960:</a></em></blockquote><p>Give it up, man. Windows Phone is dead. Microsoft could ship this thing running Windows 10 or 10X; the OS supports Snapdragon processors, which this device will certainly have. But what would be the point to running a desktop OS on a phone? What Windows desktop app do you wish to run on a 5.6" screen? Have you ever used an 8" Windows tablet? You can kind of surf the web, but all other Windows apps are virtually unusable at that size. and that's significantly larger than the Duo. </p><p><br></p><p>Microsoft already develops a wide array of apps that are optimized for phone screens. Why would they ship a phone with an OS that doesn't run those apps — or any apps — when they could ship a phone that runs those apps and millions of others?</p>

    • kwright62

      10 February, 2020 - 2:33 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518991">I just want my contacts back from Google. I would buy this instantly if I could use it as a phone and it had 10X. If it runs Android and Outlook does not have my contacts forcing users to surrender them to Google; I'm passing this by for sure.</a></em></blockquote><blockquote><a href="#518991"><em>In reply to steam960:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Nick Vlittas

    07 February, 2020 - 2:54 pm

    <p>I personally CAN'T WAIT….. it may be a disaster but what Surface product has been? Panos and the crew usually don't come up with clunkers. Great work whoever came up with this!!! Maybe it will get to market before the Holidays. </p>

  • lbcatpjs

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 3:19 pm

    <p>You all know that whoever is in the picture must be let go – fired or resign – for this leak, right? It’s a violation of the tenting agreement that people sign before getting access to Surface devices before they are public.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2020 - 9:36 am

      How on earth could anyone claim to know what this person agreed to? It’s just as likely Microsoft wants people using them out in the world so that this kind of thing will happen and generate some excitement.

      • Aurand

        Premium Member
        08 February, 2020 - 9:09 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#519127">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>And so they are tested in real world situations. He may have reported “used it on the train this morning, kind of awkward to hold one handed”, etc.</p>

  • docpaul

    07 February, 2020 - 3:25 pm

    <p>I want one! Because… reasons. </p>

    • robert_wood

      07 February, 2020 - 5:51 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#518998">In reply to DocPaul:</a></em></blockquote><p>You and me both…because reasons. </p>

  • brduffy

    07 February, 2020 - 3:27 pm

    <p>I don't hate this idea. I think there can be many situations where an app can take advantage of both screens in a user friendly way. But that does not mean it will happen. MS needs to lead the way with high quality apps that do just that and hope that other developers pick up from there. </p>

  • cseafous

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 3:38 pm

    <p>I am liking the hardware a lot. If I was using this one handed and only needed one screen, I would probably fold the other screen all the way back so that the entire device would fit in my hand. But I could see holding it like this in some scenarios. One thing I hate is when I am in the middle of something and the screen switches because someone is calling me. That shouldn't be problem with this device. And if you need to look up something while on a call or video chat, you don't have to leave the screen (which freaks out meeting apps like ReadyTalk or Zoom).</p><p><br></p><p>The biggest drawback for me is no outside screens. If I want to see notifications, answer the phone, navigate a music or podcast app, I have to open the device. I can do most of these things from my smart watch but that is not a solution for everyone and shouldn't be counted on when you are designing a device.</p>

  • illuminated

    07 February, 2020 - 3:50 pm

    <p>It is very difficult to guess if it is better than just a one-screen tablet or a phone. I would have to use duo for some time to say for sure. It looks quite interesting but it is difficult to know if it is annoying or delightful, </p>

  • plettza

    07 February, 2020 - 6:37 pm

    <p><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Completely meeting my expectations, that person is only using one of its displays. The other just shows the Android home screen.</em></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">I didn't know Android apps currently support dual-screen devices. Maybe the app he was using doesn't support dual screen which is why Microsoft is trying to pique developer interest in adapting their apps to dual-screen devices.</span></p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2020 - 9:34 am

      It looks like the app he’s using is Microsoft Outlook.

  • VMax

    Premium Member
    07 February, 2020 - 8:48 pm

    <p>Honestly, I don't even care about the dual screens. Having used Windows Phone/Mobile as long as I reasonably could and feeling like it was working with me, and now being about six months into using Android and constantly feeling like it's working against me, if there's any indication that Microsoft has customised Android to a significant degree, I'll buy one and just keep it folded with one screen unused.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2020 - 9:33 am

      If you haven’t, be sure to check out Microsoft Launcher to see Microsoft’s latest ideas about mobile UX.

  • rstyles

    08 February, 2020 - 8:20 am

    <p>Time to sell all that Day-Planner stock!</p>

  • Daekar

    08 February, 2020 - 9:31 am

    <p>I think this is something you either get or you don't. As someone who uses multiple PC monitors 99% of the time, it is inexplicable that someone might not understand the benefit of more than one screen. </p>

    • curtisspendlove

      08 February, 2020 - 1:27 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#519124">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>Agreed there may be some interesting use cases. </p><p><br></p><p>However I think I would use my four monitors on my desk a lot less if I had to unfold them and hold them in my hands. ;)</p>

    • glenn8878

      10 February, 2020 - 1:54 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#519124">In reply to Daekar:</a></em></blockquote><p>The picture proves the manufacturers don't know how to utilize dual screen tablets. Should we panic?</p>

  • Stoicjim

    Premium Member
    08 February, 2020 - 8:44 pm
  • prettyconfusd

    09 February, 2020 - 2:59 pm

    <p>Am I the only one who finds it creepy he was just filming this person using their phone and zooming in on their messages and emails?</p><p><br></p><p>Yes, it's cool to see the device in action but I hope the "photographer" makes sure none of the owners personal information is visible in any high-res photos/videos he releases.</p><p><br></p><p>In other thoughts, I love the way this device looks – depending on camera specs (and if it definitely has pen input) and the carrier/price options in the UK I would jump at getting one.</p>

  • Rob_Wade

    10 February, 2020 - 8:57 am

    <p>After watching this video….hard pass. I just have zero use for something like this.</p>

  • brduffy

    10 February, 2020 - 11:38 am

    <p>The form factor looks fine. It looks thin enough. I guess with that hinge you could just leave it open so that you don't have to open the thing every time you receive a phone call. Sometimes phone calls require interaction with the number pad. I don't know, I'm cool with it as long as the phone operation is smooth and does not require me to make any more moves to answer the phone than I do now.</p><p><br></p>

  • glenn8878

    10 February, 2020 - 12:30 pm

    <p>Surface Pro broke in half. Half as useful. Microsoft doesn't have a WOW user interface to take advantage of the dual screen tablet. They should panic.</p>

  • Jim Lewis

    10 February, 2020 - 3:59 pm

    <p>At points in the video, the Duo user has stuff on both screens. Also, as to camera, I haven't been following Duo stuff closely but if both screens are active when the thing is folded completely back on itself, the screen with the camera can face away from the user, the other screen can be the user's viewing screen for the camera. So on a dual screen device like the Duo, flip 360 degrees to "open" one screen, a single camera can both be used as a front-facing "selfie"/Skyping camera and a rear-facing photo/video camera depending on how much you've opened the device, what screen you're facing when you use the device, etc. OTH, if they gave the thing a 2nd camera on a 2nd screen, because of 3D angles between the 2 screens, they could possibly turn it into a better 3D scanning device than just a "cycloptian" arrangement of lens on the back of a single phone-sized device. Maybe that's a future Surface Duo-like device… Since the iPad Pro is supposed to come out with more 3D capturing/AR display capability, it'll be interesting to see where things go.</p>

  • roknrolldog

    10 February, 2020 - 4:35 pm

    <p>The question is where and how did he get the Surface Dua and where can I get one</p>

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