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Microsoft Surface Phones are coming, but are they really phones?

Microsoft Surface Phones are coming, but are they really phones?

Most recently, Microsoft has revealed a Surface Phone patent, which hints to a Window-powered smartphone as a hybrid “phone/laptop”, under the codename “Project Andromeda.

Late last month, Microsoft Lumia phones we seeing back on Microsoft’s own online store, in a move that was rather surprising, considering that the company has already sold all of its phone assets, previously owned by Nokia, to Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn Technologies, for $350 million, in 2016, along with Microsoft’s Vietnam-based manufacturing facility in Hanoi. At the time, Microsoft had no plans to end development of Windows 10 Mobile.

The landscape has changed drastically from four years ago, especially as Microsoft has placed its focus on Windows 10, to be a ubiquitous operating system, capable of “shape-shifting” according to the device it runs. Windows 10 S is a great example of this new philosophy, which means that Microsoft has finally embraced a similar thinking as Apple, which emphasizes the synergy between hardware and software, rather than a struggle to make the former work with the latter and viceversa, with fragmented versions of Windows.

The natural evolution of this thought process may reflect what we predicted as early as 2016: Microsoft is indeed going to end the Lumia legacy, and move on to design and manufacture a Surface Phone.

A few short years ago, it was difficult to predict just how Microsoft would have approached a completely new concept of a Windows-powered smartphone, which would distance itself from the traditional iPhone/Android paradigm.

Now, Microsoft’s philosophy is clearer in that regard, and it’s very much inspired by the same thought process that created the Surface Book.

Microsoft Project Andromeda’s most interesting feature is something reminiscent of the Surface Book, namely the “Fulcrum Hinge”, is a primary characteristic of the Surface Book, which allows the hybrid 2-in-1 to fold 180 degrees, and hold any set position given by its user.

Project Andromeda’s new “Determinative Hinge”, works in a similar way as Surface Book’s Fulcrum Hinge, but instead of detaching the screen from a keyboard portion, the keyboard part, or base, isn’t a keyboard at all, but an actual secondary display, where a virtual keyboard and trackpad can be made available via the touchscreen. When the Surface Phone is folded completely flat, the two screens merge and can be used as one bigger display, for video conferencing, video streaming, or other apps that require more real estate, but don’t necessarily require a full keyboard.

The Windows 10 version that is expected to run on Surface Phones, is built on C-Shell, a new adaptable shell, developed to introduce features like the S-mode on the desktop version of Windows 10, a mode that allows to turn a Windows 10 desktop device into a battery-conscious Windows App-centric mobile device.

This may also mean that Surface Phones will be able to run Win32 applications, that may, or may not be restricted to the Windows Store.

The patent was recently unveiled, however, the original filing dates back to 2016, which makes perfect sense, to those who have been hoping for Microsoft to finally unveil a Surface Phone.

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