With this year’s CES now at an end, we have a good idea where manufacturers and designers see the future. Success will be found in all things that fold. All across the Las Vegas Convention Center were the concept laptops which flexed and folded like Optimus Prime in Transformers.
Let’s take a look at the CES successes powered by Microsoft’s Windows 10.
Intel produced a concept device, obviously to show what its chips can do with new laptop forms, but the fact that it was showing off the new form as a foldable laptop with a single screen taking up the screen, bending round the inside hinge, and then down over the space normally associated with the keyboard is a clear indication that this is a route it is comfortable with.
How about two of Dell’s examples; the ‘Concept Duet’ which shows a twin screen no physical keyboard design, and the ‘Concept Ori’ which is closer to a tablet design that can hinge upwards into a laptop style angle.
While Asus didn’t go for a flexing screen, the Asus ZenBook Duo also works on two screens, although here the second screen shares the bottom half of the laptop design with a physical keyboard.
The there’s Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Fold, which does go with the full screen that curves into thing when closed just as a normal laptop.
But there’s a literal twist to all of these innovative laptops. At CES they were all running Windows 10 Pro, a workmanlike solution at this early stage but not refined to make a seamless foldable or dual screen device feel like magic.
Luckily Microsoft has an answer in Windows 10X.
Windows 10X was announced in October 2019 alongside the dual screened Surface Neo as the operating system that would power this device – and it would allow for an ecosystem of devices from Microsoft’s partners. I suspect this is one of the key reasons that the announcement of Windows 10X happened in Q4 2019… it placed Microsoft publicly in the driving seat of foldable laptops it used the Surface brand to continue pushing innovative form factors and software, and its announcement created a tacit agreement to its partners that it would be ready by the end of 2020,.
All this amounts to pressure. The early announcement of Windows 10X, coupled with the Surface Neo release window of Q4 2020 has created a hard deadline for the OS team to deliver not just to the Surface team at the Redmond Campus, but to Microsoft’s key hardware partners who have shown their hand at CES.
Microsoft has always looked forwards into the future but it usually remains behind closed doors until everything is cooked. With multi- and folding-screen technology, it has decided to share that future vision today. Let’s hope that Microsoft has thought carefully about delivering to that timetable.
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