Surface Duo: Microsoft embraces Google’s Android as Windows takes a back seat
Microsoft’s new Surface devices are still driven by Windows but the company has also shifted its focus to Android with Surface Duo.
Windows is no longer Microsoft's flagship product. The company long began the transition when it started to focus more on new age products like Azure, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality. Surface lineup has also emerged as rare hardware win for Microsoft. Even though Microsoft's new Surface lineup is still driven by Windows, it's now looking at a cross-platform strategy and even embracing Google's Android.
By CEO Satya Nadella's own admission the operating system is "no longer the most important layer" for Microsoft. "What is most important for us is the app model and the experience," Nadella said in an interview to The Wired.
Microsoft earlier this week introduced Surface Duo, a dual-screen device that can make and receive voice calls too. Ahead of the launch, there were plenty of rumours Microsoft could revive a mobile version of Windows. The company did unveil a Windows 10x, a custom operating system optimised for dual-screen and foldable devices. For Duo, however, Microsoft chose Android.
When asked about the possibilities of reviving Windows mobile OS, Panos Panay said, "At the end of the day, where the applications sit today, the opportunity that people have already leaned into, that developers have already taken advantage of—it's right there. And there's a reality to that. To ignore that would be silly."
Microsoft will be hoping its Android device would facilitate a partnership with Google to push more Windows apps on Android. Microsoft recently launched a Your Phone app which allows Android users to mirror the contents of their phone to a Windows PC. Microsoft's Edge browser is also now available on iOS and Android.
Microsoft's shot at Android comes almost five years after it launched Nokia X Android phone. The company did try to compete with Android at one point with a range of Windows Phone devices and even acquisition of Nokia a few years ago. Both the strategies flopped.
Microsoft's Android-based Surface Duo comes weeks after Bill Gates admitted that allowing Google to win mobile space was his "greatest mistake ever."
"So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win," said Gates while talking to Village School, a venture capital firm.
"…If you're there with half as many apps or 90 percent as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what's that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M," he added.