New Microsoft Documents Evoke Ambitious Surface Duo Future

Folding screen devices are increasingly common in portfolios; whether it’s devices looking for commercial success or demonstrating a manufacturer’s individual innovation. Microsoft’s Surface Duo family continues to stand out in this Android space.

The Surface Duo’s user interface reflects the approaches refined in Windows 11, but Microsoft isn’t above using the Surface Duo as its own showcase. Microsoft’s latest documents show that Redmond’s R&D teams are hard at work looking for new solutions to debut on the platform.

The details are in a recently published patent titled “Foldable Display Device,” which describes a new hinge that allows a Surface Duo-esque clamshell device to open 360 degrees while a single flexible display spans both sides. Windows Latest has more:

“Microsoft is talking in the patent application about a foldable device that can be folded 360 degrees on a foldable part. It uses a rear cover and a cover glass layer that covers the entire screen and a light-emitting layer is added between the rear cover and the cover glass layer to ensure a natural experience.”

Importantly, this concept deviates from the two-screen approach of the Surface Duo and Duo 2, which use two physically separate screens, to a single folding screen. The former certainly made sense when the Surface Duo was being designed ahead of its 2019 media reveal, foldable screens were very much in the expensive and fragile part of the spreadsheet.

Time and technology have moved on since then. With more manufacturers building foldable devices and more knowledge about foldable materials, it makes sense that Microsoft would explore all options for a future Surface Duo.

Of course, we’re looking at a patent here, with no guarantee that it will show up on a commercial release. What it does tell us is that Microsoft’s continued focus on the Duo isn’t limited to ongoing software development, but also new hardware.

Is the Surface Duo 3 coming? That’s a bit more difficult to answer. You could read the cadence of hardware sales as a year or two between models… the first Surface Duo was announced in October 2019 ahead of its September 2020 launch, while the Surface Duo 2 followed a year later with a release in October 2021.

Personally, I think we’re looking at a two-year cadence, which would put the Surface Duo 3 in early Q4 2023. Until then, the Duo community looks forward to regular software updates from Microsoft, especially since the Duo and Duo 2 are now matched in terms of software compatibility.

The next big moment for the Surface Duo family is likely to be the release of Android 12L and increased support for both tablets and dual-screen devices. That could lift the Duo and Duo 2 with more software compatibility, new features and a streamlined user interface.

Now read my review of the transforming Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio…

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