Foldables are big right now, but the word is currently associated with smartphones. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold are a big reason for this, although the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo and Huawei have all made devices of their own.
Even Microsoft got in on the act with the Surface Duo, albeit with a dual-screen design instead of a single screen that folds in half. It was first announced back in October 2019 alongside the Surface Neo, a larger version running Windows 10X.
The latter has since been cancelled, but Microsoft is surely still considering a foldable Surface device that can be both a tablet and a laptop. With Windows 12 rumoured to be released in 2024, it could be the perfect opportunity. Here are four big reasons why.
1. Windows 12 is probably two years away…
Given Windows 11 was only released last October, it’s no surprise that its successor isn’t expected anytime soon. However, it probably won’t be anything like the six-year gap between Windows 10 and 11.
Last month, a Windows Central report claimed that Microsoft was shifting to a three-year update cycle for major versions of Windows. If true, it would mean a potential Windows 12 arrives at some point in 2024.
Given the current state of the hybrid market, releasing a new foldable device would be a huge risk for Microsoft. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold and Asus’ Zenbook 17 Fold OLED are extremely expensive and don’t yet make a compelling enough case to replace your laptop and tablet.
Two years from now, the situation may have changed significantly.
2. …which will give Microsoft time to optimise it for foldables
Taking time to develop such a product won’t just benefit the hardware. The software is just as important, and the development of Windows 12 could be shaped by the growing number of foldables.
With Windows 11, Microsoft has made significant steps forward in making the OS feel suited to touch input – despite ditching tablet mode. But further improvements would certainly be needed to make it work on a device that can fold in half, which introduces scenarios that weren’t possible before.
Regular testing of new functionality, both internally and via the Windows Insider Program, will be crucial in order for Windows 12 to feel optimised.
3. Microsoft is no stranger to devices that can fold
As I mentioned already, any foldable that Microsoft releases in the future won’t be its first. We’ve already had two generations of the Surface Duo, with the second of these receiving a wave of software updates in recent months. A third iteration is expected in 2023.
It only makes sense for Microsoft to add to this lineup with a brand-new foldable in 2024. A lot of work was already put into the Surface Neo to get it ready for an initial announcement, and the company will have learned a lot from that experience.
Arguably, there are few companies better placed to make a foldable computer than Microsoft.
4. A major version of Windows usually means a new Surface device
When Windows 12 does get released, we’re highly likely to see a new product launch alongside it. Since the Surface range began life in 2012, every major version of Windows has been accompanied by a new device.
Given that track record, it’d be strange for Microsoft to release Windows 12 but not a new addition to the Surface range. The company has almost every other type of computer covered, so a foldable would make a lot of sense.
It’s worth reiterating that a major version of Windows in 2024 is only a rumour, and there are no guarantees it won’t just be a significant update to Windows 11. But as you can see from this article, it would be a great opportunity for Microsoft to reinvest in both its hardware and software.