Microsoft is hard at work on a dual-screen handheld device. It sounds phenomenally similar to the long-rumoured dual-display tablet, dubbed Courier, that was purportedly being developed inside the company almost half a decade ago.
According to Forbes (opens in new tab), the folding gadget – which will launch under the Surface brand name that Microsoft using for its laptops, desktops, hybrids, and wall-sized tablets – will have two 9-inch displays. It is likely to boast Android apps, the report claims.
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The inclusion of Android apps suggests this Surface device will be more handheld than the Surface Laptop, where the ability to run software designed for smartphones and tablets doesn't make as much sense. As as a result, the dual-screen Surface could be closer to the long-rumoured Surface Phone than the Surface Studio.
However, it's also possible Microsoft is looking to bring Android app compatibility onboard simply to combat increasingly popular Google ChromeBook notebooks.
According to Forbes, the 9-inch dual-screen device is being developed under the codename "Centaurus" and be powered by a new Intel Lakefield system-on-a-chip and include always-on internet connectivity – either 4G, or 5G.
Microsoft is believed to be targeting a launch date in early 2020. Each of the 9-inch touchscreens is expected to have a 4:3 aspect ratio, making for a much larger footprint. It's unclear whether the device is designed to open like a paperback book, similar to Galaxy Fold, or whether the hinged screens will open like a laptop.
Lenovo Yoga Book had a similar design with a touchscreen keyboard appearing on the glass touchscreen and still runs a fully-fledged version of Windows 10.
When Microsoft announced its Surface two-in-one hybrid device back in June 18, 2012 it was seen as a strange curiosity within the industry. At first, it looked like a direct competitor to the all-conquering Apple iPad, but it could run a desktop-class operating system, had a stylus, could handle USB flash-drives and other traditional computer accessories, and had a svelte keyboard accessory.
Years later, the iPad Pro – which can be bought with a stylus and svelte keyboard accessory – is now getting support for USB flash-drives in a tweaked mobile operating system that brings a slew of desktop-like functionality, including the ability to split-screen multiple instances of the same application.
Microsoft's Surface range of laptops has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, with its latest and greatest device, the Surface Book 2, bagging a big fat five star review from yours truly.