After giving up on Windows Mobile, Microsoft has finally re-entered the mobile space with an Android phone with a dual-screen and 360-degree hinge. If only this could have been running Windows 8, an operating system that was really well designed for this kind of touch screen two-handed tablet interface.

The Windows 8 Start screen had large easy-to-read live tiles that both provided information (sometimes) and represented an app that you were about to launch. The horizontal scrolling of the start screen made a lot of sense when spanning a horizontally oriented touch screen.

Windows 8 also had a lot of hidden edge gestures that worked really well once you figured them out. The left thumb edge swipe would swap apps instantly. The right edge swipe would reveal the Windows 8 “Charms” toolbar which gave you quick access to system or app-related functions. These two left & right edge gestures made perfect sense if you were holding a tablet like a book as seen in the above photo, since your thumbs were going to be right there at the edge.

Windows 8 also had a split-screen snapping feature that would let you display one app on the left side and another app on the right side of the screen. Since the Surface Duo actually puts a folding hinge down the middle, this would have been pretty perfect for split-screen apps in Windows 8.

Launching a new app would make its rectangular box appear right in the middle of the seam and it would sit there tilting back and forth until you chose which side it should land on.

If you had a full-screen app that you wanted to snap to an edge, you could drag its title bar down from the top and then drag it to the left or right side to snap the app into one half of the screen. Again, this would have been great on the Surface Duo.

There are a lot of things that Windows 8 does better than Android as well. For example, the Surface Duo has very limited input options. It only has a Qwerty keyboard that can exist in one screen panel at a time. There is no split-panel like Windows 8 had, which would have been great for two-handed thumb-typing on a split-screen device like the Surface Duo.

Except for the number pad in the middle, that split keyboard would have been great for typing on the Surface Duo!

The Surface Duo doesn’t have an ink-based handwriting recognition input panel like Windows 8 did… again, something that would have been very useful on the Surface Duo since it actually supports the Surface pen.

Unlike the Surface Duo, Windows 8’s left, right, top, bottom edge gestures don’t completely change when you rotate the device to a different orientation. The Surface Duo messes this up royally and requires you to learn EVEN MORE non-discoverable gestures when you rotate the device. It’s a hugely unnecessary strain on your cognitive energy compared to Windows 8’s much more simple, yet still non-discoverable, touch gestures.

Can you imagine if the Surface Duo was released in 2012 with Windows 8 instead of the Surface RT? That would have been something!

Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!
You May Also Like
iPhone charging featured
iPhone 13 might get faster charging, but not by much
iPhones are notorious for their slow charging speeds, but a new rumor from China says that the iPhone 13 series might support 25W fast wired charging.
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK G2 featured
Panasonic unveils the TOUGHBOOK G2 with a rugged, modular 2-in-1 tablet
Panasonic has just unveiled its brand new TOUGHBOOK G2. The new 2-in-1 comes with a detachable tablet and features an innovative modular design.
This is my favorite phone as a Photographer
For the past decade or so, my primary criteria for choosing a smartphone has been its camera capabilities. For numerous years after the Nokia Lumia 1020 was released, there was no innovation in smartphone camera capabilities. Happily we’ve finally reached a point where smartphone cameras are better than ever, and here’s my current favorite.