Microsoft’s demo of its upcoming Surface Duo completely flopped during its developer day event yesterday, calling to mind Apple’s embarrassment at the launch of iPhone X. Yet unlike the demo failure of Face ID in 2017, observers only briefly noted the issue in passing and instead focused on the unlikely potential for Microsoft to turn around its unbroken string of tablet flops over the last two decades. That’s a big problem.
“Microsoft’s Surface Duo demo (Android) just failed. Clearly this isn’t ready yet,” tweeted Tom Warren, a senior editor at the Verge watching the event On Tuesday. His tweet included video of the new device attempting to show off Microsoft’s progress in modifying Android to work across two display panels, including the ability to simply expand an app (Google Maps) to work across both screens. It refused to work despite multiple attempts.
Microsoft first debuted plans for its Android-based Surface Duo—a dual screen Android tablet with a folding hinge slated to arrive later in 2020 —last October alongside a larger but similar dual screen tablet running Windows 10 called Surface Neo. Both were intended to support independent apps running on each panel, or expanding to fill both displays.
So it’s kind of a big deal that the core feature defining the value of the Surface Duo is still not even functional in Microsoft’s version of Android, despite the company’s expectation that Android developers should be trying to tweak their apps to work across Microsoft’s still dysfunctional implementation of dual display panels, just in case there is any interest in the product later this year when it is supposed to arrive. It also still has no price tag.