Andromeda OS on Surface Duo would’ve been the closest thing to a Windows Phone revival, but Microsoft nixed it a few years ago and never looked back.

Microsoft’s first dual-screen phone, the Surface Duo, was in development hell for quite some time. So, it wasn’t surprising to see the phone ship with outdated hardware yet still rocking an eye-watering price tag. It didn’t help that the phone’s software was a buggy mess, and the update situation didn’t instill much confidence in its future either. However, the Android-powered Surface Duo originally began its journey as Project Andromeda.

More importantly, it was supposed to run a custom version of Windows that was internally in development under the codename Andromeda OS. It was built upon Windows Core OS (WCOS), a barebones base version of Windows that can be adapted to run on a diverse array of hardware. It can be found powering devices such as Microsoft HoloLens 2 glasses and also forms the foundations of Windows 10X as well. Microsoft eventually canceled the Andromeda OS and decided to go with Android for the Surface Duo and its successor.

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With the death of Andromeda OS, Microsoft killed the dreams of seeing Windows on the phone again, and the world didn’t get to see what it was all about. However, WindowsCentral’s Zac Bowden got his hands on a pre-release build of Andromeda OS on the Lumia 950, giving a glimpse of what a Windows-based OS would have looked like running on a dual-screen device. The similarities with Windows Phone / Mobile OS are apparent, but there are some neat tricks too. For example, users could directly scribble notes on the lock screen without opening an app or performing an on-screen gesture. Then, a Journal tool acted as a digital canvas that always runs in the background to let users quickly write notes, add images, etc., while all apps and other system UI elements ran on top of it.


A Peek At What Could’ve Been


Windows Andromeda OS canceled project.
WindowsCentral

Another exciting feature in Andromeda OS was the unification of notification shade and the virtual assistant window. Triggering Cortana from the lock screen opened a dialog box with actionable elements like search and voice at the bottom. At the same time, the blank area above was supposed to show incoming notifications. Unfortunately, the dialog boxes for Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri appearing at the bottom of the screen didn’t offer space for notifications. Another cool feature spotted in the pre-release build of Andromeda OS was a “Radial UX Menu” mode that brought up circular buttons for tasks like app switch, back, home, full-screen, etc. It appears to replace navigation gestures and looks like a neat addition from an accessibility perspective.


While Microsoft pulled the plugs on Andromeda OS, some of its tricks did appear on the heavily customized Android skin on the Surface Duo and its successor. For example, the note-taking and inking solutions on Surface Duo are inspired by their respective Andromeda OS versions, and the date and time layouts have also been carried over. Unfortunately, despite appearing to be a promising take, Andromeda OS is no longer in development. And it is pretty unlikely Microsoft will make a non-Android smartphone anytime soon. Microsoft even canceled the Surface Neo dual-screen laptop that was supposed to run Windows 10X and even teased it in a brief but gorgeous video.


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Source: Windows Central

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