Microsoft just gave buyers a reason to avoid the Surface Duo

When Microsoft announced the existence of the Android-powered Surface Duo and its Windows-toting Surface Neo sibling back in 2019, there was much excitement over the two's unique design and proposition. They were finally making the Courier concept dream come true, or so most hoped. Reality, unfortunately, wasn't that kind, and the Surface Neo has practically been canceled. While the Surface Duo is now in its second iteration, Microsoft's alleged statements about a delayed update might give prospective buyers some doubt about this particular product line.

Both the Surface Duo and the Surface Neo embodied Microsoft's vision for the future of productivity. Two screens made multi-tasking a no-brainer, and the Surface Duo would have been the mobile companion to a Surface Neo. Unlike the Windows dual-screen PC, the Surface Duo did manage to launch after some delays. Its reception, however, has been mixed.

For its price, the first Surface Duo felt almost like an expensive prototype. While the hardware was pretty, it fell short of a few things, like 5G support or, more importantly, cameras. The Surface Duo 2 improved on those but added some complications of its own. For example, you can no longer fold the device back completely because of the camera bump.

Both versions of the device, however, have been plagued by software issues. Even after many updates, there are still reports of instabilities and problems with apps. For owners of the first Surface Duo, one of the biggest gripes is the version of Android they're running on. It turns out they'll have to wait until next month to get Android 11 on their device.

The Surface Duo launched in September of 2020 and ran Android 10 from 2019. Given the timing, that was a bit understandable, but not so much the delay. Microsoft promised the dual-screen device would get Android 11 before the year ends, but that won't be the case, obviously. For its part, the Windows maker is putting the blame on Google's feet.

According to OnMsft, Microsoft allegedly said it already had the update tested by its internal team and ready for rollout. Google, however, requires devices that ship with Google Play Store to undergo certification tests before pushing out major updates. Since both companies were already on holiday, that wouldn't have been possible before the end of 2021.

That raises the question of why Microsoft didn't prepare the update sooner. The company had more than a year to work on it, even with the development of the Surface Duo 2 on the side. The second-gen device ran Android 11 out of the box, so it wasn't like the company had zero experience with that version of Android.

The situation, however, suggests Microsoft has very limited resources allocated for its Surface Duo devices, especially for the software experience. It also casts doubts on whether Microsoft will be able to keep up with the demands of Android software development, especially if it plans on launching more Surface Duos in the future.