Forward-looking: Microsoft had a couple of surprises up its sleeve at today's Surface hardware event; namely, the Surface Neo tablet and Surface Duo smartphone. The latter of the two is perhaps the most intriguing as Microsoft has already tried - and failed - in the mobile sector. This time should be different, however, as Redmond has a unique form factor on tap that's powered by an established third-party operating system.

The Surface Duo is essentially a smaller version of the Surface Neo, a dual-screen tablet not unlike Microsoft's Courier concept. The prototype shown today features two 5.6-inch displays that unfold to form an 8.3-inch tablet.

Unlike the gimmicky folding phones being pushed by other companies, Microsoft's solution is two separate screens, meaning you won't have the durability issues that plague folding screens... and you can fold them completely back, just like a 2-in-1 laptop, for even more usage modes.

Surface Duo, as you may have guessed, won't run a modified version of Windows like the company's old phones did. Instead, the device will be built on Android. Interesting, right?

It's worth reiterating that the device we saw today is little more than a prototype. The actual Surface Duo won't be available until the 2020 holiday season meaning there's still plenty of time to make changes based on developer feedback and innovate even further.

Still, for Microsoft's first at-bat since discontinuing Windows Phone in mid-2017, I'd say they might be on to something big here.