At the end of last year at Microsoftit is (NASDAQ: MSFT) As an annual fall product event, the behemoth of enterprise software has unveiled two new product prototypes to be delivered in late 2020: the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo. The devices have similar form factors, each with a folding design with two screens. The Duo is an Android phone – Microsoft would prefer you not call it a phone – while the Neo is essentially a foldable tablet that runs Windows 10X, a specialized version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system.
This daring vision of the future of IT is now behind due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Microsoft Surface Neo. Image source: Microsoft.
Software is difficult
ZDNet reports that Microsoft is delaying the Neo, which will not be ready to ship by the 2020 holiday season as originally planned. The delay was also corroborated by CNBC. The problem does not appear to be related to physical constraints or supply chain disruptions, as much of the consumer electronics supply chain is resuscitating in China, as the country has apparently overcome the coronavirus.
Instead, Windows 10X development faces obstacles. The variant is designed to activate dual-screen PCs, but Panos Panay product manager has reportedly sent an internal note that Windows 10X would not be ready to ship this year. As a result, according to ZDNet, Microsoft’s engineering teams are now focusing on the first operation of the operating system on single-screen devices. This would include hybrids and convertible form factors, as well as conventional clamshell laptops.
It also means that third-party dual-screen devices won’t see the light of day in 2020 either. Microsoft previously stated that third-party manufacturers like ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo were on board to launch Windows 10X dual screen products by this fall.
The Duo’s timeline doesn’t seem to be entirely affected yet, which would be logical since the smartphone will run on Android instead of Windows 10X. A few months ago, Microsoft released development tools for the Duo. The tech giant’s reintegration into the smartphone market may still be on track.
Microsoft warned in February that its personal computing segment would not meet expectations due to the impacts of COVID-19, as the supply chain was taking longer than expected to return to normal.
A future dual screen
Windows 10X sets Microsoft’s direction for what it thinks IT should go in the years to come, and comes as a longtime rival Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) adopts hybrid form factors like never before. In one of its biggest changes to the iPad to date, the Mac maker recently added cursor (trackpad and mouse) support to iPadOS. The next Magic Keyboard for iPad is one of Apple’s most aggressive measures to position its tablet as a true laptop replacement.
If Windows 10X dual-screen devices ultimately prove to be a commercial success in a few years, will Apple still follow in Microsoft’s footsteps?
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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a subsidiary of Microsoft, is a member of the board of directors of The Motley Fool. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft and recommends the following options: long calls from January 2021 to $ 85 on Microsoft and short calls from January 2021 to $ 115 on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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