Microsoft Shows Dual-Screen Surface Tablet Prototype At Internal Demo

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The ‘Centaurus’ prototype has upstaged earlier plans for a dual-screen phone and may be nearing launch, reports say

Microsoft has reportedly shown staff hardware prototypes of a Surface portable device with two screens, in an unusual move that may indicate a formal product launch later this year.

The Windows giant is said to have been developing the “Centaurus” device for around two years, alongside a smaller, pocket-sized version known as “Andromeda”.

Prototype hardware for Centaurus, which is around the size of an e-book reader, was demonstrated to Microsoft staff at a meeting of its devices team, The Verge reported.

Work on Andromeda has reportedly been halted in favour of Centaurus, both of which bear similarities to a previous cancelled project known as “Courier”.

Intel’s Copper Harbor concept dual-screen tablet. Image credit: Intel

Surface

Courier, plans for which were dropped in 2010, was intended as a dual-screen tablet.

Similarly, Centaurus is intended as the forefunner of a line of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids, reports said.

It is being developed by the team behind the Surface range of Microsoft portable devices, known for keeping projects secret even from Microsoft staff.

The unusual demonstration could indicate plans to launch Centaurus later this year.

Its development is said to be part of a broader effort code-named Windows Lite to develop a competitor to Google’s ChromeOS devices.

A prototype for Microsoft’s ‘Andromeda’ dual-screen phone. Image credit: Microsoft

‘Windows Lite’

Microsoft is currently said to be focusing Windows Lite development efforts on dual-screen devices such as Centaurus.

The project bears similarities to the Copper Harbor dual-screen concept tablets demonstrated by Intel in October of last year, and Microsoft is said to be working closely with Intel on Centaurus.

Such dual-screen devices also in some ways resemble the folding-screen phone-tablet hybrids demonstrated by Samsung, Huawei and others in recent months.

Such devices have yet to come to market, however, with Samsung delaying the launch of its Galaxy X folding phone last month after defects appeared in review hardware.

A concept image of Microsoft’s cancelled ‘Courier’ dual-screen device.