Ex Microsoft Employee Says Surface Phone Faces Massive Delay, Is it True?

Surface Phone delayed until late 2018

A quote from a “self-proclaimed former Microsoft employee,” as attributed to Inquisitr, shows that Surface Phone may not be ready to release until late 2018 or even 2019. Said the source: “I think Windows 10 ARM is much further away than some of us hope.”

The source is yet unverified, so should we take this claim at face value or should we discount it as a rumor being spread by a disgruntled employee?

For starters, Surface Phone from Microsoft is definitely on CEO Satya Nadella’s agenda. But his vision for mobility goes beyond the device alone. At the 2016 annual shareholders meeting, Nadella said this:

“…we think about the mobility of the human being across all of the devices, not just the mobility of a single device. That said we are not stepping away or back from our focus on our mobile devices. What we are going to do is focus that effort on places where we have differentiation.

If you take Windows Phone, where we are differentiated in Windows phone is it’s manageability, it’s security, it’s continuing capability that is the ability to have a phone that in fact can even act like a PC. So, we are going to double down on those points of differentiation.”

While it’s clear that the focus is on the mobility aspect rather than the device, Nadella knows full well that Surface Phone is potentially a very disruptive piece of hardware. But it’s equally true that it is the software that brings that potential into reality.

The fact is, Windows 10 can already run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, which was demoed back in December 2016. Here’s the video of the demo:

Qualcomm licenses the ARM Holdings’ ISA (instruction set architecture), as well as CPUs using this architecture. In 2014, Qualcomm and ARM Holdings jointly published a paper explaining how this would work for the future.

At the time, Qualcomm also showcased the fact that a significant majority of Google applications on mobile used ARM architecture.

With the recently announced Microsoft-Qualcomm partnership promising to bring desktop app emulation on mobile devices, Microsoft is a lot closer to the Surface Phone dream than ever.

So, why would they delay the product by up to two years? That’s what makes the ex-employee’s statement hard to digest. Of course, doing a demo is vastly different from actually releasing a product with such capability, but all signs point to the fact that Surface Phone could come out this year.

On the bright side, Microsoft does expect to release a smartphone this year. Though it won’t have the Surface Phone branding, sources say that this yet-unnamed device could run on Windows 10, and be limited to exclusively running Windows Store apps.

We know that Surface Phone is going to have far greater capabilities, but it might be an interim device for Microsoft to fully test out the emulation functionality on ARM-based devices.

That said, the reality of it is that very little is known about Microsoft’s plans for Surface Phone, especially on the timeline front. The clues all point to a release during the second half of 2017, but if this ex-employee’s claims are true, we might not see Surface Phone launch to the public for another 20 months, at least.

Microsoft needs to tread very carefully in the smartphone market, especially with devices carrying the Surface branding. Surface devices are being fine-tuned for the enterprise market, and the Surface line of 2-in-1 hybrid tablets is making a dent in that market. But for the Surface Phone, nothing less than a device with the kind of differentiation” that Nadella spoke about will do.

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