Microsoft could be closer to releasing a foldable device than many people expected. Kind of. IHS Markit reportedly said on Sunday that, according to "supply chain info," a new Surface tablet featuring two 9-inch displays could debut as early as the first quarter of 2020 with support for Android apps.
The claim that Microsoft plans to support Android apps with this new device, which could also be the first to feature the new Windows Core platform, could be more interesting to many consumers. Google confirmed last week that it plans to have its hardware team focus exclusively on laptops rather than continuing to work on tablets like the Pixel Slate. That leaves a hole in the market that Microsoft could fill.
A quick clarification: this foldable Surface tablet would feature two screens connected by a hinge; it wouldn't be foldable in the same way as the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The report also claimed this new Surface tablet would offer always-on wireless connectivity, potentially with support for 5G networks as well as their LTE counterparts and feature the Lakefield processor Intel showed off at CES 2019 in January.
Lakefield was designed to offer the best performance in the smallest possible device. The unit Intel displayed at CES 2019 measured just 12 square-millimeters, and the platform itself is supposed to enable the company to make custom system-on-chips (SOCs) from various components. It would make sense for Microsoft to rely on an SOC like that for a foldable tablet in which component space would be scarce.
This new tablet could also feature Windows Lite running on top of Windows Core. Microsoft hasn't officially announced either platform, but numerous leaks have made their existence fairly well known. The gist is that Windows Core will introduce a modular approach to Windows that's supposed to help the operating system expand to more device categories; Windows Lite is meant specifically for foldable devices.
IHS Markit's claims follow a previous report from which said Microsoft was showing off a dual-screen tablet to its employees. Combine that with all of the leaks involving Microsoft's plans, along with Intel showing off numerous dual-screen prototypes at Computex.