One of Microsoft’s next-gen Surface laptops has two screens instead of one, joined by a hinge, according to a new report from The Verge. Before you get excited about a Surface Phone, you should know the Centaurus isn’t that either, as it’s a more sizable gadget rather than a pocketable computer. Still, Microsoft is moving forward with new form factors for the Surface line, and it’s ready to show off its prototype internally.
Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans said employees were invited to an all-hands event for its devices team, where it played a sizzle video for the new Surface devices and showed a dual-screen prototype. Microsoft would not confirm anything for the time being, but the company is looking to be less secretive, at least internally.
The Centaurus gadget is more similar to Microsoft’s Courier tablet from the days when Steve Ballmer was in charge of the company — a product that Microsoft never shipped. Andromeda, meanwhile, was the more pocketable version, which Microsoft has stopped developing for the time being, as it’s focusing on the Centaurus.
The dual-display Surface will run Windows Lite, which is a lighter version of Windows 10 that’s meant to compete against Chromebooks and power dual-screen devices. Centaurus and Andromeda are the kind of devices that could pave the way for a foldable Surface in the future. However, Microsoft is focusing on a dual-screen Surface for the time being, rather than a device that features a continuous foldable screen.
Intel is a prominent partner in all of this, as the chipmaker has been encouraging partners to create this type of hardware. The fact that Microsoft has already shown the Centaurus prototype to its employees suggests the product might launch by the end of the year.
Microsoft is far from confirming any of these devices, but we’ve seen plenty of evidence in the past that a Surface Phone of some nature is still in the works, and Microsoft’s Panos Panay confirmed last year that the company is looking at other form factors and will launch them when they’re ready.
In addition to the new gadget, Microsoft also showed employees a working version of xCloud, its cloud gaming service that will launch on Sunday at E3. Microsoft is pitching it as a way to resume your games on the go on iOS and Android, rather than a console killer. Finally, Microsoft demoed a new prototype for the Microsoft Teams app, designed as an extension to Microsoft’s chat app for friends and family that supports location sharing, shared family calendars, and document sharing. The app is dubbed Microsoft Teams “for life.”