It's the software that will make or break Surface Duo 2

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We've been following the Surface Duo's status from afar (Microsoft UK still 'doesn't have a review sample') since launch and, at this point, we're all just waiting for the Surface Duo 2 to be announced, perhaps this time with more of a world focus and not just the USA. WC's Zac Bowden, based in the UK, has had one since launch by virtue of having it sent over from the States, and his continuing complaints make interesting reading. And despite the appallingly unspectacular componentry, it seems the biggest frustration is that the Surface Duo is still buggy, still in 'beta' in terms of software, even as its replacement is about to be launched.

Zac writes:

A few months ago, I expressed that one of the Surface Duo's biggest problems was that Microsoft itself was not communicating with customers about the roadmap for Surface Duo. There was no official word as to when Android 11 was coming, what bugs and issues were being tracked and prioritized, or when the next OS security update would arrive. Unfortunately, none of that has changed. We still don't know anything or have a means of submitting feedback about software bugs on Surface Duo, and there's no transparency between Microsoft and customers about what issues are being fixed or even acknowledged. There also doesn't seem to be any coherent schedule for when the monthly bug fix and security updates go out, as they appear to just go at random points each month.

Surface Duo's biggest problem isn't the lackluster camera, the lack of NFC or the questionable choices in material; it's the software. Microsoft's version of Android that powers Surface Duo still feels like it's in beta, and that's probably because it is. The device has countless issues, many of which are encountered at least once a day. And things just aren't moving fast enough.

One of the big issues I keep getting is with one of the screens on Surface Duo turning off when in book mode. This is an issue that appeared with the April update, and Microsoft says it's fixed with the May update, but it's not. It's certainly less common now, but the issue isn't gone. I also often find the device will hang on the lock screen after unlocking with a fingerprint.

Other issues include the device being overly sensitive to gestures. I'll be in an app like Twitter, scrolling through the feed about mid-way up the display, and the OS will think I just swiped up from the bottom and take me back to the home screen. Touch often locks up and becomes unresponsive too, and just yesterday my device decided to randomly overlay the multitasking view across both screens while I was in single-screen mode, and I couldn't get out of it until I restarted the phone.

And so on. Zac points out in the full article that Microsoft Launcher, available for generic Android phones, is far more capable than that on Microsoft's own productivity champion. And he says rightly that there's no way that Surface Duo 2 can be launched without far more attention paid to all the user interface bugs.

The Surface Duo (née Project Andomeda, under Windows 10) was launched in 2020 with the expectation that it would arrive with Android 11 (available to Google Pixels for all of that time), along with work from Google to improve the dual screen support. Yet we're now in July 2021 and there's still no sign of the Android 11 update for the Surface Duo, leading to the conclusion that Microsoft is going to wipe its hands of the original and start the Duo 2 off on Android 11, along with that promised better dual screen support and, hopefully, fewer bugs.

What a long, twisted, even folding path we've all been on with this concept from Microsoft, eh?

Surface Duo

Source / Credit: WC