Andromeda returns: A detailed historical previous of Microsoft’s foldable phone mission – Home windows Central
Last week, Microsoft unveiled Surface Duo, a pocketable dual-screen mobile device that's coming at the end of next year. This is a project we at Windows Central have been following for almost three years under the internal codename "Andromeda." Initially positioned as a Windows Core OS device, Surface Duo will now be shipping as an…

Closing week, Microsoft unveiled Surface Duo, a pocketable twin-conceal conceal mobile instrument that’s coming on the crash of next year. That is a mission we at Home windows Central were following for practically three years below the internal codename “Andromeda.” At the origin positioned as a Home windows Core OS instrument, Surface Duo will now be transport as an Android instrument as a substitute, a circulation that few of us were awaiting, nonetheless is fully the actual call.

Even supposing a foldable phone by Microsoft came as a surprise to many, that is mainly mission now we have known about for a extraordinarily long time. It’s one thing Microsoft has been engaged on since 2016, and has long previous by way of many iterations and changes internally. As such, I believed it may well perhaps presumably be a groovy idea to obtain the total critical ancient aspects within the scramble that has led us to Surface Duo, as soon as codenamed Andromeda.


Microsoft started engaged on its secret Andromeda mission in some unspecified time in the future throughout 2016, no longer too long after the firm had determined to provide up on Home windows 10 Cell internally. It wasn’t till November 2016 where I first started hearing in regards to the Andromeda mission from sources, and to designate the occasion, I teased the Andromeda codename in a tweet alongside quite lots of unrelated things that I used to be looking ahead to in some unspecified time in the future.

At the time, I did not know too a lot. My job is to dig around for recordsdata, and aid then, recordsdata in regards to the mission used to be scarce. I knew it used to be a phone, and I knew it may well perhaps presumably be running a brand contemporary OS from Microsoft known as Andromeda OS. However that used to be it for the time being. Over the following two years, I would slowly nonetheless surely procure out extra info about this secret mobile mission.


In January 2017, I started hearing about extra puny print around Andromeda. I had been educated that the instrument used to be a twin-conceal conceal phone with a highlight on pen and digital inking. What I largely heard about, nonetheless, is the instrument aspect of things. Identified as Andromeda OS internally, this used to be a flavor of Home windows Core OS designed particularly for foldable devices, and its UX used to be a aggregate of every Home windows 10 desktop and Home windows 10 Cell.

This UX layer used to be a sticking point for me, as it used to be being described as an integral allotment of the Andromeda mission. This UX layer used to be known as CShell and used to be a popular shell designed to adapt and be modularized so that it may well perhaps presumably urge on many forms of assemble aspect. This will be a key part for a instrument with two screens that may well perhaps well fold into assorted orientations.

CShell used to be the principle a part of Andromeda that I took a involved heart of attention on, and after speaking with several sources on the subject, wrote up my first piece in direction of the Andromeda puzzle on January sixteen. Two days sooner than this, a patent revealing a instrument with two screens looked online, and it used to be at this 2nd that I began to tackle the instrument Microsoft used to be looking to assemble.

Satya Nadella used to be later quoted asserting that Microsoft’s future telephones would no longer look esteem commonplace telephones. No longer too long after, references to this “Andromeda” instrument started exhibiting up in code, and leaksters esteem WalkingCat had begun to dig up these references online. On Might perhaps well 20, Cassim Ketfi fired all cylinders and wrote the principle vow on his findings around the Andromeda mission as a total. At the time, I restful hadn’t written about Andromeda itself, as I restful had lingering questions around its OS.

Andromeda OS

Andromeda’s OS used to be an piquant subject of dialog with sources, as, on the time, no longer everyone I used to be talking to perceived to absolutely realize what it used to be. It wasn’t out of the blue determined to me that Andromeda OS (as it used to be known on the time) used to be allotment of an even bigger effort is known as Home windows Core OS. When Andromeda OS used to be being described to me, many were calling it a modular platform designed to scale to any assemble aspect.

On September 20, I wrote up the 2nd piece of the puzzle in direction of Andromeda. This text detailed the OS, and how Microsoft used to be constructing a modular and well-liked model of Home windows that may well perhaps presumably urge across all forms of quite quite lots of devices, at the side of Andromeda. At the time of publishing, I used to be restful calling this effort Andromeda OS, and over the following week, several sources would account for that Andromeda OS is actual one allotment of this modular mission is known as Home windows Core OS.

Ultimately, on October 26, I published my findings around Microsoft’s secret Andromeda mission, tying collectively the CShell and Home windows Core OS articles sooner than it to paint a image around how expansive this effort used to be internally. I used to be educated that Microsoft wouldn’t be positioning this instrument as actual a phone. At this point, I used to be hearing that Andromeda used to be heading within the suitable direction for a leisurely 2018 originate, with the opportunity of a developer kit being launched at Microsoft’s Construct developer convention in Might perhaps well 2018.

Andromeda, a twin-conceal conceal foldable phone by Microsoft that runs a brand contemporary model of Home windows, used to be of route going on. And it used to be big spirited.



As 2018 rolled around, I had began to procure out about some chilly camera tech that may well perhaps presumably slot the instrument neatly into the Mixed Actuality class with capabilities equivalent to 3D scanning and extra, nonetheless contemporary puny print around the mission had slowed severely exterior of patents which apparently revealed contemporary tips every week. A lot of those tips were no longer of route allotment of the Andromeda mission, clearly.

As Construct 2018 approached, it grew to alter into determined that Microsoft would no longer be transport an Andromeda developer kit, as the mission itself had slipped unhurried schedule. In Might perhaps well, I had heard from sources that the firm used to be many completely different routes to fight the “app-gap” self-discipline that Andromeda would within the crash face, and one solution the firm used to be pondering used to be running Android apps on Andromeda by way of emulation, same to Challenge Astoria.

The subject with Challenge Astoria is that it labored too effectively, and there were licensing and political issues around utilizing same tech in Andromeda. Would Google even allow it? Would it no longer rupture off any developer want to assemble native Home windows apps? There were many questions around doing this internally.

In June 2018, The Verge reported on an internal electronic mail despatched out to workers that detailed its plans around the Andromeda mission. Microsoft known as the instrument “contemporary and disruptive” as, on the time, no foldable telephones existed. Nonetheless, per week later ZDNet reported that Microsoft had shelved the Andromeda mission completely. It used to be no longer going on anytime quickly.

Andromeda is tedious, or is it?

The vow echoed same considerations I used to be hearing from sources in Might perhaps well, around Andromeda’s self-discipline and not utilizing a longer having any apps. This of route used to be a obedient self-discipline for the Andromeda mission as a total. With out reference to how amazing Home windows used to be on Andromeda, if it had no apps, it’los angeles effectively no longer ship. A pocketable mobile instrument, of any style, wants apps.

Interestingly, even with this vow claiming the instrument to be tedious, I heard from some sources that Andromeda used to be restful being labored on. Confusingly, nonetheless, I also had sources telling me that the mission used to be certainly tedious. This used to be extra confirmed when I learned that Andromeda OS had been deprecated. If there is no OS for Andromeda, how can the mission restful be alive? It used to be at this point that I gave in and assumed the mission of route used to be tedious.

Later in 2018, every so often, I could well perhaps well bag tidbits of recordsdata detailing puny changes to the Andromeda hardware. It used to be obvious that the Andromeda hardware used to be restful being labored on, even supposing the mission itself had been deemed tedious by so many others. Why would Microsoft proceed to work on Andromeda if it used to be tedious? This used to be a question that I couldn’t establish out an acknowledge to.


As 2019 rolled around, my heart of attention had moved over from Andromeda to Centaurus. I had heard about Centaurus in leisurely 2018, and it used to be described to me as an even bigger Andromeda running a model of Home windows Core OS is known as Home windows Lite. The overall consensus here used to be that Microsoft had shifted gears from Andromeda to Centaurus, as Centaurus used to be bigger and, as such, can be positioned as a PC with PC apps.

In Might perhaps well 2019, whispers around Microsoft doing an Android phone started making its way by way of the Microsoft bloggersphere. Mary-Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott were the first to detail such plans on Home windows Weekly, nonetheless the idea that looked so ludicrous that no one wanted to jot down it up. Why would Microsoft want to assemble an Android phone?

It looks that within the autumn of 2018, Microsoft determined to swap out Home windows in favor of Android on Andromeda. This used to be a circulation very few of us saw coming. It’s evident now, nonetheless on the time all of us assumed an Android smartphone by Microsoft would be a mature slab of glass. Even supposing I endured to hear that Andromeda used to be being labored on, I by no formulation as soon as made the connection between the Android rumor and Andromeda.

In October, those two things would lastly advance collectively spectacularly as the most ravishing Microsoft announcement ever. Microsoft had determined to take the Andromeda hardware and slap Android on it, fixing the app gap self-discipline in a single fell swoop. Identified as the Surface Duo, that is the principle pocketable Surface, that’s also a phone, and or no longer it is lastly legit.


So that’s a no longer-so-brief look into the scramble now we have taken alongside with Andromeda. It has been a rollercoaster for particular, a instrument that started out as the way in which forward for Home windows on mobile grew to alter true into a instrument with Android as a substitute. I have confidence that is an entertaining selection for Microsoft, as or no longer it is a ways the finest life like way Microsoft can assemble a phone in 2020. Home windows has no ecosystem on telephones, and as such, Android is the finest way forward in this division.

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