Getting code ready for Surface Neo and Surface Duo

Microsoft’s new Surface hardware moves away from familiar Windows 10 to Windows 10X and Android. Here's how to build apps for them

Getting code ready for Surface Neo and Surface Duo

Microsoft’s ambition to build a folding device has been the subject of much speculation over the past few years. A series of patent filings revealed what appeared to be a dual-screen tablet that could operate in several different ways. Then there were the codenames—Andromeda and Centaurus—and what appeared to be a planned new version of Windows, based on the Windows Core OS that uses a composable shell to power both HoloLens 2 and the second-generation Surface Hub wall screens.

Time passed. The Andromeda foldable phone appeared to be canceled, though the Centaurus tablet had at least one internal showing at Microsoft. But Microsoft’s veil of secrecy kept it all hidden. Then came 2019’s Surface hardware event and the curtain was drawn back. The Centaurus dual-screen folding tablet was the Surface Neo, with a magnetic keyboard that could be used on top of one of the screens. More surprisingly, Andromeda hadn’t been canceled after all, now it’s the Surface Duo, and it isn’t a Windows device and will run Android.

It’s going to be a while before the public get its hands on the new hardware; they won’t hit the shelves until well into 2020. But that gives us time to start thinking about how we build applications for these new form factors, and how we can build code that works across both Windows and Android.

Working with Windows 10X

Microsoft has yet to give details of Windows 10X, the Surface Neo’s implementation of Windows Core OS (WCOS). However, from what we know about HoloLens 2 and Surface Hub 2 and from what was said at the launch event, we can make some educated guesses. WCOS removes much of Windows’ legacy, with a focus on Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and “modern” applications. That likely indicates that the Surface Neo won’t run your old Win32 code without some work. What’s most likely is that it will allow you to use code that’s been optimized for the Windows store, either as a full UWP app or wrapped using the Desktop Bridge using XAML Islands to host modern controls.

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