"We think of this not simply as a product, but as the beginning of a new category, screen computing," Yousuf Mehdi Vice President of Microsoft Corporation for Modern Life, Search and Devices . "We're starting a new wave of innovation."
But this magical device was not about to be powered by some version of Microsoft's monopoly software that runs on nearly 8 out of 10 computers around the world. Instead, the Surface Duo will bethe world's most popular mobile operating system, running on three out of every four phones.
"If you have a device that fits in your pocket and you can make phone calls and want to run applications … it made sense to choose" Android, said Mehdi.
With this, Microsoft has recognized what we've seen for years. The once vibrant mobile software market of decades ago with devices running Nokia, BlackBerry, Danger, Palm and Microsoft software was shortened by Apple and Google. The only remaining competitors for Android and iOS from iOS are side projects such as Samsung's Tizen, which still relies on Android in its flagship phones. There is also HarmonyOS, the latest effort by Chinese tech giant Huawei to ease its reliance on Google-made US software.
Microsoft's move to Android may not be as surprising as it makes sense. According to Statcounter, according to Statcounter, Android is more widely used in the technology world than even Microsoft Windows
. And if you're curious, Microsoft has told reporters that it will stick with Android for the foreseeable future.
"It shows that Microsoft is smart and competes where they think they can compete," such as with the camera, email, and search application, said Caroline Milanesi an analyst at Creative Creative. Strategies. "There's a lot going on for them right now."
Microsoft, which has become one of the most popular companies on the planet due to its software, has been developing by this point in half a decade.
Signs began to emerge in 2014 when Microsoft announced the free download of versions of its popular Office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) for Apple and Google-based devices. Microsoft made its move shortly after appointing Sathya Nadella as its new CEO. He made his career destroying the once toxic corporate culture of the company and abandoning the old corporate ethos that all she cares for was running Windows
"You join here not to be cool but to do other cool ones, "said Nadella in an interview last year. "This is an important result."
Microsoft has made further progress over the last few years, especially in the Android industry. One app, your phone, displays information from your Android phone to a Windows PC, allowing people to drag and drop photos to sync, reply to text messages on your computer, and even manage your phone from your computer.
As Microsoft worked on this effort, in 2015, it acknowledged that Nokia's buyout was virtually worthless a year after it was paid, and reduced 7,800 positions.
"We're moving from a standalone phone business strategy to a growth strategy, and to create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first family of devices," said Nadella at the time.
What he didn't say is how well-sold Microsoft Windows Phone software really is. Windows Phone was launched in 2010 as a touch screen that supports Windows CE since 1996 and Windows Mobile in 2000, both designed for handheld-based handheld computers.
On Windows Phone, Microsoft redesigned the project by offering a completely different design from Apple and Google. One example: Microsoft's departure from the typical types of applications we see on a typical home screen. Instead, Windows Phone had windows with application icons that moved up and down to detect glimpses of information (such as news headlines) running around them.
What Microsoft couldn't do was convince app developers to create Apple and Google for their phones.
"The choice of applications for Windows-phones is still very limited," wrote Andrew Hoyle in a 2015 review of one of the latest Microsoft phones. "I have to say that if you are not a crazy Windows fan (why would you?), Then you will have the best mobile experience from Android or iOS."
Hoping for Leadership
Surface branded Microsoft devices offer a chance to reboot.
A company that designs laptops and tablets is rated, for example, as innovative. And Microsoft's efforts to expand the headset have taken a big hit from CNET audio expert David Carnoy.
"Surface-mounted Microsoft headphones are what you expect in premium noise-canceling headphones," he said after an exclusive first hands-on conversation last year, though he criticized Cortana's less capable voice assistant by comparison , from Google and Apple. (Even then, Microsoft was listening – strengthening ties between Cortana and the popular Alexa last year.)
With a surface branded phone, Microsoft hopes it can offer a compelling spin in the new take on sophisticated handsets. from the troubled Samsung Fold Galaxy Fold and Huawei in $ 2,000 not yet released Mate X. The Microsoft Surface Duo works on two screens that interact with each other, rather than relying on the Samsung and Huawei approach with one larger, half-folded screen.
"This product combines the absolute best of Microsoft, and we're working with Google to bring together the best Android in one product," Microsoft Product Manager Panos Panay said of the Surface Duo during an event Wednesday. "This is the technology that is pushing the industry."
Whether this turns out to be true will depend on what happens next year. Microsoft has said that the Surface Duo and its larger non-phone cousin Surface Neo will not arrive until next year. He plans to use this time to work with app developers to create unique apps for the device.
"Microsoft is one of the only companies that has the resources to do this," said Patrick Moorhead Moor Insights & Strategy analyst, who spoke to me on a Samsung Galaxy Fold phone he used. He intends to capture the Surface Duo as he releases next year, in part because he believes it will help introduce a new class of dual-screen phones. "It's an opportunity for him to be a decent experience. they offer, "he added. "The Surface team proved they were getting it."
CNET's Tibken Layer contributed to this report.