Andromeda OS was an operating system that Microsoft was working on for its return to the smartphone market after the Nokia fiasco. Finally, development was canceled and the return occurred with the Surface Duo, but from the hand of a custom version of Android.
Microsoft took the loss on mobility and officially shut down Windows Phone/Mobile development. When Satya Nadella made the announcement, he promised that they would only return to the mobile hardware market with a device that was truly «novel and innovative that offered a differentiating experience and was capable of promoting a new product category».
Secretly, a team at Microsoft almost immediately began developing this type of device that ended up being leaked as ‘Surface Andromeda’. Forgetting the Nokia adventure, the company opted for a new format taking advantage of the new technologies that at that time came from the double screen and flexible screens, and that manufacturers such as Samsung have ended up specifying with the Fold and Flip series, and Microsoft itself with Surface Duo and the canceled Neo.
Andromeda OS, what could have been and was not
Microsoft developed a specific operating system for these folding devices and was remarkable as it was a new ‘Windows for mobile’. Finally, its development was canceled and this was surely the reason why the Surface Duo smartphone arrived so late on schedule. Outdated in hardware, without 5G and with Android already present in hundreds of terminals, its reception was quite negative and Microsoft’s expected return to mobile hardware had nothing to do with what Nadella promised.
It’s hard to tell if Andromeda OS could have changed the pace. We think so, at least in the software section. That a giant like Microsoft doesn’t have a “Windows” for the tech industry’s best-selling type of device (1.4 billion units a year) is curious enough, but that’s the way it is.
Windows Center has published images and video of this operating system. This build was designed to be tested on a Lumia 950, one of the latest smartphones to be released with Windows 10 Mobile. Although it was a terminal with a single screen, the idea was to develop system and applications for terminals with double screen like the Surface Duo.
The version we see in the video is quite old, rough and unpolished. The interface was based on the old Windows Mobile one characterized by the tiles that Microsoft has definitely canceled in Windows 11. We see a quick configuration panel and a general configuration panel. There is support for gesture-based navigation, being able to swipe from the left side of the screen to open the Start menu or from the right to open notifications and Cortana. Swiping down from the top brings up Control Center.
We also see the strong commitment to writing and note-taking functions with light pens, possible even on the same lock screen and without the need to unlock the terminal. And there was a “Journal” feature that was constantly running in the background, allowing you to take notes at any time.
What could have been and was not this Andromeda OS… Not everything was lost and some concepts were used for Windows 10X, another canceled project that has ended in Windows 11. For the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft has continued to play it safe, a personalized version of Android that we have seen even in the soup, developed by a rival like Google and with which you cannot stand out.
Definitely, many of us cannot understand how Microsoft does not have a “Mobile Windows” with which to offer something different from what comes from Google or Apple. Not just to convince manufacturers of its use, but at least on the Surfaces themselves and get closer to what Nadella promised: «a device novel and innovative that offered a differentiating experience». we keep waiting.