Microsoft is building a dual-screen Surface PC that runs a new variant of Windows known as Windows 10X that will be launching to the public at the end of 2020. Right now, information around the Surface Neo is light, and that seems to be a deliberate move by to keep fans interested, and also not to give competitors an advantage by beating them to market.
So, to keep everything it all in one handy place, we’ve written up everything we know about the Surface Neo.
Surface Neo hardware
Surface Neo is a device that features two LCDs that are joined together by a unique hinge design that allows the screens to be used together via multitasking or individually. It’s designed like a book, but can be used in many different postures such as a laptop or tablet when needed as well. The displays themselves are 9-inches each, which totals 13.1-inches of screen real-estate when both are in use together.
When closed, the device is 11.2mm thin, making both halves 5.6mm when open. It’s also 655 grams, which is a little on the heavier side but adds to the overall premium feel of the device. On the outside, the device is covered in glass, which is a departure from other Surface products that historically use magnesium or aluminum.
The Neo also has a Windows Hello IR set up along the top bezel on the left side of the device, as well as a front-facing camera to go with it. On the left side of the device are the power and volume buttons, with a single USB-C port located near the hinge on the right side of the device.
On the inside, the Surface Neo is rocking an Intel Lakefield processor, along with an LTE modem for always-connected capabilities. We don’t know anything about RAM or Storage at this time, although it’s safe to assume it’ll be available in your traditional 8GB/16GB RAM configurations along with 128GB/256GB of storage.
I’m told that the Surface Neo’s hardware is pretty much done, and isn’t going to change between now and when it ships at the end of next year.
Surface Neo software
On the software side of things, the Surface Neo is running a custom-tailored version of Windows 10 known as Windows 10X. Built on the core of Windows, Windows 10X is a new modern OS from Microsoft that’s designed for lightweight computing and modern experiences no matter the device. At launch, it’ll be exclusive to foldable devices like the Surface Neo, but we anticipate it will show up on more traditional form factors in the future.
Windows 10X on foldable PCs features an enhanced UI designed with touch as a primary input. It has a minimized taskbar that can be swiped up to reveal your running and pinned apps, including the usual Start and Task View buttons. Tapping on an app icon from either display will launch that app on the display you’re interacting with, and can be spanned to utilize both screens by dragging the app to the center bezel.
It also features a new Control Center UI that lets users get access to things like Airplane Mode and Rotation Lock, which also houses your notifications. This is very similar to the Action Center on Windows 10 today, but with a new UI that’s clean and fits with the overall Fluent Design aesthetic.
Because Windows 10X is still Windows, it can run all your usual Windows programs, including those from outside the Microsoft Store. Microsoft categorizes the Surface Neo as a PC, and as such, will allow you to run those PC apps when required.
I understand that the Surface Neo will ship with the 20H1 release of Windows, which is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2020. This is typical for a Surface device launching in the fall; all fall 2019 Surface PCs are launching with the 19H1 release, for example.
Surface Neo accessories
In addition to the hardware itself, Microsoft also unveiled two accessories that pair with the Surface Neo. The first of which is a magnetic keyboard that attaches to the display and allows you to type with tactile feedback, just like on a laptop with a dedicated keyboard. The keyboard can also attach to the outside of the device, which is where it can wirelessly charge when not in use. The other accessory is the new Surface Pen, which also wirelessly charges on the back of the device.
The keyboard accessory, when attached to the display, enables “Wonderbar” that essentially turns half of the display into an enhanced TouchBar. You can find emoji, control functions, and even use a virtual trackpad.
Surface Neo release date
Microsoft has said that the Surface Neo is expected to launch Holiday 2020, which means the Surface Neo is around about a year away from public release. However, the Surface Neo may be made available to developers much earlier than that, possibly at Build 2020 in May as a way to entice developers to update their apps to support new dual-screen experiences.
Microsoft says it will have more to share regarding the developer story for Surface Neo in the coming weeks.