Andromeda concept
Image Courtesy: Harry

Microsoft’s pocketable Surface phone was initially supposed to ship with “Andromeda OS”, a now-cancelled potential future version of Windows 10 (mobile) which does things very differently.

Andromeda OS was originally pitched to launch across multiple devices, including what is now known as the Surface Duo. Andromeda was also the codename of one of the first pocketable Surface hardware and it was very similar to the Surface Duo, but Andromeda was a bit bulkier and thicker.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a growing number of rumours that suggest Microsoft was working on some kind of Windows pocketable device internally codenamed “Andromeda.”

According to older reports, the hardware of the cancelled Andromeda and Surface Duo is identical, and the form factor is also similar but one key difference is the camera hardware.

Surface Duo patent
Image Courtesy: USPTO / Microsoft

In 2018, multiple new Windows APIs, telephony APIs, dual-screen APIs, hinge APIs, and all sorts of patents were spotted online.

In fact, a Microsoft presentation on the subject of Azure DevOps also carried a surprising reference to AndromedaOS. Later, more evidence emerged confirming that a new Windows shell is being developed that would be needed to run Windows 10 on a pocketable gadget.

Andromeda leak

A few months later, an internal memo revealed that Microsoft abandoned the development of Andromeda software, but the dual-screen hardware was still being worked on. In fact, it is believed that Microsoft replaced Windows in favour of Android on the same hardware.

Earlier this week, Microsoft published the factory image of the Surface Duo and codebase digging has revealed Andromeda OS origins.

Firmware certificate
Surface Duo firmware

A few attestation certificates refer to the device by its original codename ‘Andromeda’ and firmware partitions are signed using a certificate named ‘Andromeda’, which was issued in 2017. This suggests that the device and Andromeda OS were in development for more than three years.

Interestingly, Surface Duo firmware also includes Hypervisor Firmware partition (HYP), which is more geared towards running the Windows operating system.

In non-technical terms, Surface Duo’s firmware includes the code commits that Microsoft made years ago for the Windows Andromeda OS. This means Surface Duo used to run Windows a few years ago with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, which was released in 2017.

This would also seem to indicate that it’ll be possible to run Windows 10 on Surface Duo in future if developers are willing to port the desktop OS,¬†although obviously, we’d be foolish to attempt to draw any conclusions that Microsoft will officially launch Surface Duo-like device with Windows.