Microsoft is taking a big risk with the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo. It revealed the devices more than a year before even developer kits would be available and it gave these developers a head start even before the dual-screen devices hit the market. Its most recent gamble, however, was to show unfinished software on unfinished hardware on stage. Unsurprisingly, the Surface Duo refused to cooperate but the magic of technology and video editing eventually gave what the public wanted: a glimpse of the future.
It’s not the biggest live demo fail in history, not by a long shot. Of course, it’s still amusing how the recorded video magically had none of the issues that Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo experienced on stage, not just once but twice. To its credit, Microsoft does preface the video with a disclaimer that it was updated post-event.
The demo, in both cases, showed the gestures that can be used to interact with the home screens, including pulling up the app drawer from the bottom on either screen. The demo went south from there when the device froze up and became unresponsive to gestures. The second Surface Duo fared no better, keeping Google Maps stuck on one screen.
The “fixed” version of the demo, fortunately, showed what should have been. The gestures were admittedly fluid it Gallo was able to show how apps can be made to take up both screens or be swiped away close. In Google Maps’ case, it simply showed a larger, tablet-based UI spanning both screens. A new custom app, however, can be made to display two different facets of the app on each side.
Developers and the public will probably forgive Microsoft the live demo mishaps, especially considering how early in the game it is for the device and its new SDK. In fact, the demo speaks to both Microsoft’s confidence in the future of the Surface Duo and its daring to take such PR risks in letting people see an in-development product this early. Hopefully, that gamble will pay off.