Long awaited Andromeda folding device could be shelved as OS components get cut from RS5

Laurent Giret

Microsoft Andromeda Surface Phone Concept

Since leaked internal emails recently confirmed that Microsoft was working on a “pocketable” Surface device, it had become hard to doubt that the company’s rumored Andromeda folding device was on the way. Previous reports also suggested a 2018 reveal, and even Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer Panos Panay teased an LG partnership last week.

Well, according to a new report from ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may well have changed its plans after the latest company reorganization that saw veteran Terry Myerson leaving the company. Even though various Microsoft execs including CEO Satya Nadella previously said that Microsoft was working on a revolutionary mobile device, the company never discussed this foldable mobile device publicly, and even its software components such as CShell or Windows Core OS (a streamlined version of Windows 10 which is supposed to be the base for the “Andromeda OS”) were not discussed at this year’s Build developer conference.

“My sources say that Microsoft execs recently decided that the Andromeda operating system bits, which were looking as if they’d be incorporated into Microsoft’s next Windows 10 feature release, known as “Redstone 5,” are not going to make it into the final version of that feature update, after all, said Foley. “This is partially because of scheduling and quality, sources say, but more so because there’s still no compelling reason for Microsoft to come to market with its current iteration of a small, dual-screen mobile device.”

Microsoft putting Andromeda back on a shelf wouldn’t be a first for the company. Back in 2014, CEO Satya Nadella cancelled the 8-inch Surface Mini at the last minute, and the company shelved other products in recent years such as the Microsoft Band 3 and an incremental update for HoloLens.

“Andromeda or its successor could still end up coming to market at some point and attempt to fulfill Andromeda’s original goal: A portable, multi-screen Windows-10-based device,” explained Foley. “But if that happens, expect something more akin to a small foldable PC type form factor than a phone-sized device, sources say. And something that will run Win32 apps, not just Universal Windows Platform (UWP)/Microsoft Store ones.”

Microsoft fans have all been wanting to see the company give mobile another shot after the failure of Windows Phone, but you can’t deny that a foldable mobile device would certainly be a niche product that may only appeal to Windows Phone nostalgics. And when you add an app store that still lacks the apps and games most smartphone and tablet users want to use, you probably get the recipe for another failure.

Would you be disappointed if Microsoft did shelve its Andromeda device, or do you think it’s probably better to wait for Windows 10 and the Microsoft Store to mature? Sound off in the comments below.