Microsoft has released plenty of smartphones under its own brand since acquiring Nokia’s phone business in 2014. Up until now most of those phones have been devices designed by the team that used to be part of Nokia. But there have been rumors that the team responsible for Microsoft’s Surface tablets and Surface Book are working on a phone.

While the company hasn’t made any official announcements about the so-called “Surface Phone” yet, a recent profile of the Surface team and its leader Panos Panay mentioned a phone prototype that was under development.

Now Windows Central reports that Microsoft may be scrapping plans to launch an Intel-powered smartphone in May to make way for a new phone from the Surface team which will reportedly launch in the second half of 2016.


You should probably take the report with a grain of salt: Microsoft still hasn’t confirmed the details. Windows Central’s sources might have inaccurate information. And even if the information is currently accurate, there’s plenty of time for Microsoft to change its plans: the earliest Windows Central expects to see a Surface Phone would be August, 2016. It’s possible it could also launch later in the year… if it launches at all.

So what can we expect from a Surface Phone? It’s kind of tough to know for certain at this point. Microsoft is rumored to be working with Intel on the project, which means the phone could have an x86 processor, which would make it the first smartphone running a modern version of Windows to have an Intel x86 chip.

That could open the door to running legacy Win32 apps as well as Universal Windows apps… and that could make Continuum for phone a whole lot more useful. Dock your phone to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and not only will you be able to run a handful of Universal apps such as Outlook, Word, and Excel, but you may be able to run any Windows app.

Or may the phone will have an ARM-based chip, but use some sort of emulation technology to support Win32 apps.

A phone from the Surface team might also look very different from Microsoft’s Lumia phones. Most of Microsoft’s existing phones have bright polycarbonate bodies, while the Surface line tend to have metal cases.

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21 replies on “Report: Microsoft’s “Surface Phone” could be 6-12 months away”

    1. I’d be shocked if this project ever makes it to market. Theoretically it’s possible to build such a device, but this team has no real experience, no working prototype, and little more than a spec sheet and some drawings.

      1. The idea is sound and the hardware (to build the device) is available. Just to show that Microsoft isn’t the first one. Also Microsoft’s strategy in flogging ARM-powered (Lumia) “Windows” smartphones isn’t working well at all, as shown by more losses and declining market share quote “And 80% of Windows phone owners desert the ecosystem for Android or iOS” and quote “Windows phone shipments took a nose-dive in the third quarter, plummeting 35% from the same period in 2014, researcher Gartner said today. By comparison, total global smartphone shipments climbed 15% in the third quarter”. Another example quote “Revenue from devices decreased by $1.8 billion — or 49 percent, year-over-year — thanks to a decrease of $1.5 billion in Phones revenue and a further $236 million in Surface revenue. Microsoft sold just 5.8 million Lumias in Q3, which explains the huge difference compared to the quarter a year prior”…

  1. If the price is surface like, 200% price on every hardware upgrade, i pass on.

  2. I’m a windows phone user and have decided not to upgrade in the hopes of something like this coming to market soon. However, there is a big difference between 6 and 12 months. 6 months means I’ll forego an upgrade and be an early adopter at launch. 12 months means I’ll upgrade now and be a late adopter sometime after 12 months.

  3. I never though anything would convince me to buy a Windows phone, but this, this would… x86 programs in my pocket has been something I’ve wanted since my old Sony Vaio UX and Viliv N5 days. Microsoft, please do this.

  4. I want to try Google’s Project Ara, I hope the project isn’t dead… Maybe we will hear more at CES?

  5. Looking forward to yet another botched MS product.
    As they say (or something like it), a camel is a horse
    designed by a committee.

    1. What was the last botched MS product? Every physical device they’ve made that I can remember has been solid. Zune was great hardware despite the adoption rate, and the Surface line is incredible.

      1. Don’t know which of their turkeys is the latest, but here is a

        – Windows Hello
        – Continuum
        – the whole Windows Phone concept
        – Windows RT
        – Windows 8 original version
        – Windows Vista
        – Windows Me

        – Kin
        – Bob
        – Office ribbon

        1. I’ve give you the Kin and Vista, but the rest of them… seriously? MS Bob? What is this, 1993??

          What’s wrong with Hello or Continuum? RT is whatever, but it’s not like it had a huge adoption. I use a Windows Phone with no issues whatsoever. Windows 8 wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. I had some complaints about it, but it wasn’t Vista bad.

          If you hate the Ribbon so much, go back to OpenOffice and keep that UI from 2004 so you can be happy.

          Besides, I was referring to the hardware anyways: “Every physical device they’ve made that I can remember has been solid.”

          1. I have had no problems with the MS devices I’ve ever had. My current Surface RT2 kicks ass in my office. MS Office for free for ever? Heck yeah! Works smooth for productivity and for home fun! I get that some people will complain about everything and anything but to lump all MS devices as failure tells me there is an undercover Ifan in the house!

          2. By the way, my daughters still has a Zune that works and like it more than the Ipod she has. She keeps it as her main music library for home because I told her there would be no fixing it when it dies and uses her ipod to walk with. But when she comes home that Zune is humming still!

          3. Hello and Continuum, half baked and not ready for prime time

            Microsoft did a Google with RT, abandoning the platform, and alienating its hardware partners. Before Windows Phone, MS had a 17% market share with Windows Mobile, then sowed confusion with 2 versions (touch enabled and non-touch enabled OS). Windows Phone users prior to version 7.8 were left high and dry. If Windows 8 was so great, why does Windows 10 look a lot like Windows 7?

          4. While not ready for prime time, both Continuum and Hello are something that Apple and Google have nothing close to. MS is ahead of the curve there.

            The marketshare failing on Windows Mobile had to do more with the success of the iPhone and Android and the stagnancy of Ballmer than anything else. I used the touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions just fine. The apps all still worked the same.

            Complaining about the users that were stuck at 7.8 is like crying about the iPad 1 being stuck at 5.1.1. New features are released that need new hardware. Should we just live in the past forever so hardware is never obsolete?

            Windows 10 looks a lot like Windows 8 too. I don’t see your point. If Vista was so bad, why did Windows 7 look a lot like it? It’s been the same basic UI since 95, FFS.

            Besides, you still haven’t acknowledged that my whole argument from the beginning was that MS has constantly produced quality hardware, but then again, I’m sure you would just bring up the Kin like it’s the only thing that MS has ever made and just ignore everything else they’ve built.

    2. Pretty sure the desert folk are pretty fond of their camels. More like, designed by a very specific sub-committee for a select target audience. And the product is wildly popular within that target audience.

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