This year’s E3 conference is proving to be a veritable treasure trove of Microsoft news and leaks. After the company revealed during its E3 keynote that it was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” we are hearing reports that Microsoft may be on track with releasing its oft-rumored and highly anticipated dual-screen computing device this year. Although Microsoft initially killed off its Courierconcept, the idea was more recently revived under the Andromeda codename.
In a video discussing the company’s hardware road map spotted by OnMSFT, Thurrot.com writer Brad Sams stated that Andromeda is targeted for a launch this year. “Andromeda was mentioned in this content that I was able to view,” Sams said. “It says a release date of 2018, which is this year.”
Microsoft, however, won’t be the only one to embrace the dual-screen computing form factor — its hardware partners may also be planning their own devices, which could be timed around the same time as Microsoft’s big unveiling when that happens. “So we’re looking at a pocketable device, also the documentation says that OEM partners are also going to release similar devices,” Sams added.
This shouldn’t be too surprising given the news coming from chipmakers Intel and Qualcomm. The latter recently unveiled its Snapdragon 850 processor, which is not only geared toward Microsoft’s Windows on ARM platform known as Always Connected PCs, but was designed with innovative form factors in mind. The latter part may hint at the dual-screen computing devices on the horizon. Similarly, rival Intel showed off its Tiger Rapids prototypes with dual-screens. Although Intel has no plans on commercializing Tiger Rapids — the concept comes with one traditional LCD screen and one E Ink display to save power — partners Asus and Lenovo are adding their own spin to bring the idea to market. Asus showed off its Project Precog concept at the show, highlighting Intel’s dual-screen design while adding artificial intelligence capabilities.
Unlike the dual-screen PC prototypes shown at Computex, Microsoft’s Andromeda is said to be a pocketable device, bridging the gap between a smartphone and a laptop, Sams noted. It’s unclear if Microsoft will maintain its 2018 target for Andromeda given the company’s recent leadership changes.
In addition to Andromeda, Microsoft also has some updates to its Surface hardware lineup. A Surface Pro 6 — the current Surface Pro is the company’s fifth iteration — is in the works, as is a new Surface Tablet, Sams said. The Surface Pro 6 is also referred to by its Caramel code name, while the new Surface Tablet is known internally as Libra. The Surface Tablet is said to come in at a lower price point and is likely positioned as a Surface 3 successor aimed at competing against Google’s Chrome OS and Apple’s iPad devices in the education space. These devices are expected to arrive this year. The next-generation HoloLens is expected to arrive in the first quarter 2019 as is the new Surface Hub 2.