Microsoft’s Andromeda Project: A Bifold Pocketable Tablet

Brad Sams, writing at, uh, “Thurrott”:

As of last year, Microsoft planned to ship Andromeda in late 2018 but as recently as a couple weeks ago, the company put the plans on ice. Mary Jo wrote last week that the bits needed for Andromeda would not make it into RS5 and she is absolutely correct in her assessment but there is more to the story. While some assumed that this means that the project is dead, what Microsoft is actually doing is sending it back to the labs to be significantly reworked.

And this makes sense, seeing as it would use an ARM processor, the best it could use this fall would be the Snapdragon 835, a chip that is from yesterday. We know that Qualcomm is working on new chips designed explicitly for PCs and it could arrive as early as the beginning of next year.

It is impossible to overstate how important Apple’s A-series chip development has been to the success of the iPhone and iPad. It allows them to evolve at Apple’s own pace. Qualcomm seemingly can’t keep up, and everyone else is dependent upon Qualcomm for high-end ARM chips. Apple’s current position in the mobile space is like if Microsoft and Intel had been rolled into one back in the PC heyday.

The problem that Microsoft has run into is that the Surface brand is now a premium product line and that they can’t risk releasing anything that will tarnish its reputation. If Andromeda were to be released and it was a complete flop, this could reflect negatively on the Surface brand and impact products like the Pro line that sell quite well.

I don’t buy this excuse at all. It’s not about the Surface brand (the esteem of which I think Sams overstates). It’s just a product that isn’t ready to go. There’s no shame in that — a foldable tablet that can fit in your pocket could be great but would be really hard to do well today given current display and battery technologies. I think a concept like this needs to be closer to the tablets the characters on Westworld use.

Monday, 16 July 2018