Surface Duo will get three years of Android updates, ship with unlockable bootloader

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,522   +122
Staff member
Editor's take: News that Microsoft will ship the Surface Duo with an unlockable bootloader is great news for the enthusiast community. Given the phone's high price tag, however, we may not see a ton of support as I can't imagine there are a lot of people willing to risk bricking such an expensive device.

Of the dual screen / foldable smartphones already on the market or in the pipeline, Microsoft’s Surface Duo is arguably the most intriguing. On paper, the device skirts the durability issues of true foldables by employing two separate displays and according to the latest out of Microsoft, it’ll have a long software lifecycle and be enthusiast friendly.

Citing a Microsoft spokesperson, Android Authority claims the Surface Duo will be supported with OS and security updates for a minimum of three years. At a time when many hardware makers only commit to two years of updates, it’s certainly worth noting.

XDA Developers received the same confirmation from their Microsoft rep, who took things one step further by adding that the Surface Duo will also have an unlockable bootloader. This will allow tinkerers to easily root the device, load custom ROMs on it and so on. That’s a somewhat risky proposition, especially on a phone that costs $1,399. What’s more, we don’t yet know if doing so will void the handset’s warranty or not.

The Surface Duo is currently up for pre-order on Microsoft’s online store and through AT&T at the aforementioned $1,399.99, or $46.67 per month for 30 months through AT&T’s installment payment plan.

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trparky

Posts: 804   +760
Three years of updates for a device that costs $1400. And they expect us to be happy about that?! Talk about throwing the users a bone and hoping that they're going to happy about that.

HA!

A device that costs this stinkin' much should be getting no less than FIVE YEARS OF UPDATES!!! That's the minimum software support time that I'd expect for forking out that much dough.

The Android OEMs are taking advantage of us, we need to push back and say no.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,187   +3,373
So the Duo is an Android device? I actually hadn't heard that anywhere before. This makes sense, though, since Microsoft is no longer an OS and apps company but rather a cloud data mining operation. Why bother building your own ecosystem when someone else will do it for you and usually better? All that matters is getting your bloatware onto devices and harvesting that juicy personal info. Of course, without giving user any compelling reasons to install Microsoft apps onto their Android devices the company's only recourse is trying to sell their own pre-bloated phone...but at that price they might as well not even bother.
 
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sorten

Posts: 42   +55
TechSpot Elite
So the Duo is an Android device? I actually hadn't heard that anywhere before. This makes sense, though, since Microsoft is no longer an OS and apps company but rather a cloud data mining operation. Why bother building your own ecosystem when someone else will do it for you and usually better? All that matters is getting your bloatware onto devices and harvesting that juicy personal info. Of course, without giving user any compelling reasons to install Microsoft apps onto their Android devices the company's only recourse is trying to sell their own pre-bloated phone...but at that price they might as well not even bother.
If Microsoft isn't an OS company, in addition to being a cloud platform and services provider, then they're absolutely killing it with almost 80% of the market.

IMO, Microsoft is less likely to be vacuuming up your data compared to Google, considering how little revenue they earn for advertising. But each of us has to decide what our comfort level is with data collection and convenience. It's sounds like you're on the flip phone end of that spectrum :)
 

Ludak021

Posts: 262   +196
Half of the things on their mobile OS didn't work or didn't work properly, then they just updated(!) the system on Nokia phones and removed all the problematic stuff reducing the phones to less than Nokia Symbian phones capabilities. I still have one Nokia 8xx phone with M$ OS on it, it's trash.
 

hyperspaced

Posts: 34   +11
Of course, without giving user any compelling reasons to install Microsoft apps onto their Android devices the company's only recourse is trying to sell their own pre-bloated phone...but at that price they might as well not even bother.
I'm using Outlook, Edge, Onedrive, Skype, OneNote, Office apps on my Android phone just fine. Their launcher is nice too, but needs some extra polishing.
 

trparky

Posts: 804   +760
It's sounds like you're on the flip phone end of that spectrum
It's not just him, lots of people have gone to that kind of extreme level of thinking when it comes to privacy. Many people have gone off the deep end.

Now I care about my privacy as much as the next person around here, but some people here take it to an all new paranoid level. Privacy isn't a zero or a one, a yes or a no, there's shades of gray. You're never going to get all of your privacy back (unlike some people who think you can), it's just never going to happen. You can claw back some of it but not all of it. The only way you'll be able to do that is to literally disconnect from all of society and go live off the grid.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 922   +545
This really does look like absolute garbage. I may be wrong but I predict a big flop. $1400 is obscene, you can get top end iPad Pro’s for less, or a decent Ultrabook with actual windows on it for a lot less. And only 3 years of support? That’s a joke too, just because it’s more than the usual pathetic 2 that most Android devices get doesn’t mean it’s good!

I couldn’t use this for work, it has no keyboard and can’t run the bespoke X86 applications I need it to run. I can’t use it to game, to travel with I’d rather just have an iPad for the bigger screen to watch movies.

Who buys this!? And more importantly, why would they pay so much for it?
 
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m4a4

Posts: 1,947   +1,729
TechSpot Elite
Three years of updates for a device that costs $1400. And they expect us to be happy about that?! Talk about throwing the users a bone and hoping that they're going to happy about that.

HA!

A device that costs this stinkin' much should be getting no less than FIVE YEARS OF UPDATES!!! That's the minimum software support time that I'd expect for forking out that much dough.

The Android OEMs are taking advantage of us, we need to push back and say no.
...Do you know how Android works? It still will have system component updates for a while after the support ends (you know, a lot of the important stuff). You just won't have the latest shiny version of Android.
Unlike Apple where the core components are left behind sooner (because those get updated in macro updates), Android has a lot more core micro updates for longer...

Also, it says minimum 3 years, which is still more than the standard 2 years...
 

trparky

Posts: 804   +760
Do you know how Android works? It still will have system component updates for a while after the support ends (you know, a lot of the important stuff). You just won't have the latest shiny version of Android.
Yes, I do know how Android works but if the kernel of the OS is vulnerable to exploit there's not a darned thing that can be done outside of a full OTA update that only the OEM can deliver since that's the only thing that can touch system-level OS related files.

A while ago there was WiFi vulnerability that was found; if your device isn't supported, you're SOL since that requires a kernel driver update to fix. The same goes with this recent Qualcomm Snapdragon DSP vulnerability, this needs a kernel update and again, if your device isn't supported you are quite simply SOL.

This is just like how only a Windows Update can update core OS files. Sure, you can update programs and other utilities on it but only a Windows Update can modify NTOSKRNL.EXE. This is also how an update to the Linux kernel can only be installed by the package manager of your particular Linux distro be it YUM or APT.

So yes, I do know how updates are deployed on Android but if the vulnerabilty sits at a layer below what Google Play Services can modify (ie. the kernel), you're screwed unless your OEM decides to grace your device with an emergency OTA update.
 
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m4a4

Posts: 1,947   +1,729
TechSpot Elite
Yes, I do know how Android works but if the kernel of the OS is vulnerable to exploit there's not a darned thing that can be done outside of a full OTA update that only the OEM can deliver since that's the only thing that can touch system-level OS related files.

A while ago there was WiFi vulnerability that was found; if your device isn't supported, you're SOL since that requires a kernel driver update to fix. The same goes with this recent Qualcomm Snapdragon DSP vulnerability, this needs a kernel update and again, if your device isn't supported you are quite simply SOL.

This is just like how only a Windows Update can update core OS files. Sure, you can update programs and other utilities on it but only a Windows Update can modify NTOSKRNL.EXE. This is also how an update to the Linux kernel can only be installed by the package manager of your particular Linux distro be it YUM or APT.

So yes, I do know how updates are deployed on Android but if the vulnerabilty sits at a layer below what Google Play Services can modify (ie. the kernel), you're screwed unless your OEM decides to grace your device with an emergency OTA update.
Good. Then you do understand the basics++. I find that a lot of people that complain about this kind of thing don't fully understand.

That said, rare exploits that can only be fixed in the kernel I'm personally not worried about. Don't think I've had a macro android update for my current daily driver for a few years now. Phone still does what I want fast enough, so no big deal here.
 

trparky

Posts: 804   +760
That said, rare exploits that can only be fixed in the kernel I'm personally not worried about.
That’s the difference between you and I, those are the kinds of exploits that keep me up at night knowing that there’s probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of devices that have vulnerable kernels.
 
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trparky

Posts: 804   +760
Combine that with the fact that a majority of people who own an Android are complete n00bs and you have a recipe for a disaster.

I'm old enough to remember the dark days of Windows before such thing as Windows Update and how vulnerabilities spread like wildfire across the early Internet. I don't want to go back to those days, they were scary.
 
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hk2000

Posts: 146   +75
TechSpot Elite
Does that mean you can somehow install a different OS on it? I think MS should stick to Windows, I'd rather have it with Windows OS. Android stinks! 3 years of support? Is that why my TV doesn't do updates anymore, and the apps that don't work just sit there?
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,621   +2,248
That’s the difference between you and I, those are the kinds of exploits that keep me up at night knowing that there’s probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of devices that have vulnerable kernels.
Seriously? It's like losing sleep over worrying about being struck by lightning.
 
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