Microsoft’s Andromeda: A Folio of the Future

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Brad Sams in Microsoft Surface, Mobile, Windows with 97 Comments

Over the past few weeks, we have been hearing a lot about the ‘Andromeda’ device that Microsoft is building. The hardware, if it is ever released, is Microsoft’s vision of the mobile future or at least a device that allows them to stay in the mobile conversation.

If you have been watching First Ring Daily, I’ve been talking about this hardware with Paul for a couple of weeks and now it’s time to toss a few more details into the pot to help paint a better picture of what this device may look like when/if it is released. As always, this is early information and many aspects of the hardware could change as it marches down the production pipeline.

Here is what I have heard is that Microsoft is working on a dual-panel small-form-factor hardware that has a foldable display; there is a patent that Microsoft recently received that may depict the hardware (much like how the Surface Studio patent was representative of the shipping hardware).

Further, Microsoft is working on optimizing its apps for a dual-screen setup as I have heard from several sources inside the company saying that dual-panel UWP apps are now being quietly developed. Pen input will play an important part of the experience but it goes beyond OneNote to include Mail, Calendar, and other apps too.

When it comes to the display, word on the street is that Alex Kipman is said to be helping out with the hardware which also makes me wonder if this will have an AR/VR component as well to it.

One rumor that I have heard but have not been able to confirm is that Microsoft wants to build a holographic display to be able to show holograms. This may be why Kipman is working on the hardware but this is still pending on if I can find others to verify if this is moving forward.

Internally, Microsoft is already expecting this device, if it does come to market, to be a low volume product. Because it is a new form-factor, multiple displays, and likely cutting-edge hardware, it will not come cheap.

Further, I fully expect that it will support phone calls and Walking Cat has found evidence to support this. I don’t think this is a ‘phone’ but more like a device that supports phone functionality which raises the next question, Intel or ARM.

Seeing as Microsoft is already working with partners to build out an ARM ecosystem of device, it would make sense that this small form factor hardware would be ARM based. Additionally, the Surface brand will need to create the hero ARM hardware as that has been the primary function of this team inside of Microsoft.

One thing to keep in mind that has muddled up some rumors is that ‘Andromeda’ is also a software component of Windows. Keep that in mind as more information about this hardware leaks.

When it comes to positioning this hardware, I expect the company to pitch it as a fully-featured mobile folio. Think of it as a PC in your pocket that can also power larger displays and if the company can sell this device in volume, it would help fill the mobile gap left behind by the death of Windows Mobile.

I know many keep clamoring for a “Surface Phone” and if that’s what you want out of this device, you will likely be let down. This is Microsoft’s exploration into new hardware form factors as it looks to move beyond the desktop and laptop.

An ARM-based, foldable two-screened piece of hardware with pen support, LTE connectivity, multi-screen UWP apps with long battery life and possibly VR too? Sign me up.


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