Microsoft’s strategy when it comes to the mobile market has flip-flopped over the years but it has resulted in a few pleasant surprises. One of those is the Microsoft Launcher, previously known as the Arrow Launcher, hailed by some as one of the few good launchers available on Android. Just as surprising is how Microsoft has just released a preview version of the launcher which includes a few elements that we expect to see in the dual-screen Surface Duo later this year.
It may not have all the bells and whistles of veterans like Nova and Action Launchers but Microsoft Launcher’s mix of simplicity and features caught many skeptic Android users off guard. Along with customization options, the launcher offers unique features seemingly inspired by Microsoft’s years of experience doing home screens as well as integrations with its cloud and desktop apps.
Compared to the stable release, this version 6.0 Preview is pretty barebones as Microsoft itself disclaims. The preview does add new features not found in the stable version, most notably the ability to be used in landscape mode as well as a Dark Mode. Microsoft also talks about improvements in performance and battery efficiency.
Most interesting, however, is how Microsoft Launcher 6.0 is noted to be built in a new codebase and utilizes fluent animation. This pretty much entails that Microsoft is laying the foundations for the launcher that will be used on the Android-based Surface Duo due later this year.
Unlike previous preview versions, this Microsoft Launcher Preview exists as a separate app that you can install alongside the stable version. At your own risk, of course, as it will have bugs. That said, given its importance in the grand scheme of things, people will most likely pay closer attention to hunt for any clue that may lead to the dual-screen phone.