Two Surface Phone Possibilities: Microsoft’s Twin Attack on the Smartphone Segment

Surface Phone from Microsoft

Microsoft’s plans for Surface Phone are getting fuzzier by the day, despite the fact that information keeps emerging about its plans in the mobile space.

On the one hand, there is the Windows 10 on ARM devices that are almost ready to go into production for a late 2017 launch. This information comes from Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, so we take it at face value.

This is a device that rumors say will be called Surface Mobile rather than Surface Phone or Cellular PC. From all the information that’s been leaked or officially provided in the past, we know that this is going to be a cellular device that is capable of running win32 desktop applications through emulation.

Further corroboration of such a device – or such a technology – comes from Intel, which recently took to legal posturing against anyone potentially violating its win32 emulation IP.

And on the other hand, there is insider information that Microsoft is working on its own hardware that will run a new avatar of Windows 10 Mobile. From what we know so far, we can assume that this device will run on a variant of Windows 10 that can run UWP apps from the Windows Store, and possibly desktop applications as well. Nothing has leaked about the capabilities of this OS version so far, so much of this is speculation.

Nonetheless, we believe we’re ‘speculating in the correct general direction’, so to speak.

What’s more certain about this device-and-OS partnership that is currently under development is that it will, in some way, attempt to merge the desktop experience with the mobile experience.

It is very likely to be a cellular device, because Microsoft is already moving in that direction (case in point is optional LTE on the new Surface Pro.)

So now, we’re left with two possible Surface Phone scenarios. One, a publicly known project between Microsoft and Qualcomm that involves Windows 10 on ARM using Qualcomm’s silicon, in which at least three major device manufacturers – HP, Lenovo and ASUS – are known to be participating; and the other, a hush-hush project within Microsoft that hopes to create new devices with a new version of Windows 10 Mobile.

The confusing part is that neither of these projects may deliver a device that’s actually called Surface Phone. The concept of Surface Phone is somewhat abstract at this point, only referred to publicly by Microsoft as an “ultimate mobile device.”

Nevertheless, we now know that there are at least two ‘strains’ of Surface Phone in the offing – one that should come out later this year, and another that could take a year or more to be released.

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