Not only did Microsoft not disappoint at its Surface event by revealing its first ARM-powered Surface and the foldable Surface Neo, it also surprised the crowd with a long-awaited foldable phone. There might have been some disappointment, however, when the Surface Duo was revealed to be running Android instead of Windows 10 or even Windows 10X. Given that the phone isn’t due for another year, it could still change significantly in terms of software, especially if Microsoft listens to a growing number of requests from developers and users.
On the one hand, it’s not completely surprising that Microsoft would opt to put Android on its first phone since the Lumia 950 XL. Given its history with Windows Phone, later Windows Mobile, and its desire to “meet users where they are”, it really didn’t have much choice but to put the only mobile platform it can at least have some amount of influence over. Of course, some consider it a missed opportunity for Microsoft to show its commitment and innovation in the mobile space, but there might still be some time to take a different route.
That is what a new Change.org petition is trying to say, asking Microsoft to make the Surface Duo run Windows 10X instead of Android. Without yet knowing what hardware is inside the folding phone, the petitioners are suggesting that Microsoft should just let Android apps run on top of Windows 10X. Their rationale is that many Windows developers have bought into the company’s promise of UWP cross-device compatibility and is calling on the company to fulfill that promise.
Then again, it might not have to change the OS if this slip of the tweet is accurate. A Microsoft representative assured developers that they will be able to run their UWP apps on the Surface Duo. Of course, as @WalkingCat implied, that representative may have just been confused between the Neo and the Duo, foreshadowing what may happen next year.
Details about the two devices and Windows 10X are still pretty slim at the moment, even for the developers whom Microsoft has invited to jump on board early. There might still be some room for change but that will also depend on hardware limitations and Microsoft’s own capability to implement these much-requested changes. Given its past performance, however, it might indeed be better off first establishing the Surface Duo name with something stable and usable before going off with more experimental features.