AH KEVIN, if only you'd hung on a bit longer.
When our columnist Kevin, the last Windows Phone user in the world, disappeared leaving an ominous note, we already suspected that if he had hung on a little longer, he'd have finally got the phone of his dreams.
And so it came to pass that we got an early look at the long-awaited Pixel Phone this week. It's called the Microsoft Surface Duo and is set for release at the end of 2020.
In fact, it's a testament to how far away it is that the early prototype on display yesterday was horrendously buggy. Give it time.
It's going to be the first Microsoft device to run Android natively, and therein lies one heck of a rub.
You see, for years now, we've been talking in mostly hushed tones about Microsoft's unofficial plans to break back into the mobile market.
At an event a few years ago, we watched Satya Nadella pull out his iPhone which he'd kitted out with Microsoft apps and referred to as his 'iPhone Plus'. We died a little inside, but knew the reality was a little different - Microsoft had long been after a slice of Android.
We've always called it the "chestburster" project, named after John Hurt's career-defining performance as an alien creature shot out of his chest in the film Alien.
Microsoft has used much the same technique. Perhaps a politer way of framing it would be as a "cuckoo" technique. Slowly, the company has been designing Android versions of its most popular apps and buying existing Android apps to repurpose them.
The result is that although Microsoft is using the Google-owned Android operating system, it can pretty much do whatever the heck it needs to without a single Google app. So we'd expect that this is a fairly accurate list of what you can expect in the Duo by default:
Google Launcher - Microsoft Launcher
Google Drive - Microsoft OneDrive
Google Docs - Word
Google Sheets - Excel
Google Presentations - Powerpoint
Google Keep Notes - OneNote
GMail - Outlook
GBoard - Swiftkey
Chrome - Edge
Hangouts - Skype
Assistant - Cortana
Google Search - Bing
The point here is that if Microsoft wants to, Microsoft can build an Android-based phone with no, or almost no native Google apps.
Doesn't that sound a bit familiar? We're essentially supposed to celebrate Microsoft attempting to do something which Huawei has been forced to do with the recent Mate 30.
If you've been living under a rock, for legal reasons, Huawei was unable to use the full Google version of Android and is, therefore, being forced to find alternative apps.
Sure, Microsoft's apps have got a bit more kudos behind them but let's make no mistake here, Microsoft has a fairly poor history with phone hardware.
And whilst Microsoft customers will have the freedom to switch back to whatever apps they want (we assume the Google Play Store will be included or we're screwed), it's still an offputting faff.
After all - would you buy an Amazon Fire tablet if it wasn't £40? Amazon gets around it by referring to their version of Android as Fire OS, thus limiting awkward expectations failing to be met.
But Microsoft? Microsoft just announced it was releasing an Android tablet. It'd be weird anyway, but what's weirder is that its an Android device in with a bunch of Windows devices. What exactly is the strategy here, Satya? It's weird.
It comes down to one simple question. Who is the Surface Duo for exactly? It's a tricky one to answer without the full hardware specs and the price, but if Microsoft really thinks people will buy an Android device because it's been badged as part of the Surface series? Nah-ah. Not going to happen.
Perhaps we'll be wrong. Perhaps Android is the future of Android, though we doubt it.
The upshot is that if Kevin was still around and not missing, presumed dead, he'd be turning in his grave. Or something. µ
Out to Glassture
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