Microsoft brings Android OS development for Surface Duo in-house with Movial acquisition

Surface Duo unfolded on display
Surface Duo unfolded on display (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft was working closely with Movial on Android for Surface Duo.
  • Microsoft is now bringing many Movial employees in-house.
  • This team will handle post-launch OS and app updates.

Microsoft is forming a team internally under the Microsoft Devices division that will handle the development of the Android OS for Surface Duo going forward. According to my sources, up until now, Microsoft had contracted the OS work out to third-party vendors such as Movial, who had the expertise required to bring Android to life on Surface Duo.

Movial is a software, services, and design engineering company that was working closely with Microsoft on Surface Duo during its prototype and development stages. Microsoft has now acquired the local operations of Movial in Romania, Taiwan, and the USA, and is bringing on-board all the Movial employees that were working on the Surface Duo as full-time employees at Microsoft.

Microsoft is not acquiring Movial as a whole. Movial will continue to operate as a standalone company, with employees at its headquarters in Finland remaining at Movial. SeeNews reports that Movial's Iasi office will become Microsoft Romania's fourth research and development center, as it on-boards 60 employees from Movial in that location.

A Movial spokespersion said the following:

This transaction involves people in Movial operations in Romania, Taiwan and the United States. Movial will continue operating as an independent company going forward, continuing to provide software engineering and design services. The transaction enables Movial to focus efforts on some key competency areas, such as cyber security. In the short term majority of our remaining staff will be located in Helsinki, Finland but we are also hiring in other locations.

A Microsoft spokesperson also said:

Microsoft recently completed an agreement with Movial to hire employees across several offices as part of the company's efforts to boost Windows and Android development efforts.

Microsoft bringing the OS development for Surface Duo in-house is a big sign that the company is taking its renewed mobile phone efforts seriously. I'm told that with the OS team in-house, Microsoft itself will handle post-launch software updates for Surface Duo that will add new features and experiences over time.

This same team will also handle Android OS work for Surface Duo V2, which I'm told is now in early development. Microsoft is currently advertising job positions looking for Android engineers to work on Surface Duo. Microsoft is gearing up to release Surface Duo later this summer, and plans to provide a steady stream of OS and app updates post-launch.

Microsoft's own Android apps, including Microsoft Launcher and SwiftKey, are already all developed in-house. It was just the Android OS specific work for Surface Duo that was outsourced externally.

Surface Duo is expected to launch with a Snapdragon 855, 6GB RAM, 64/128/256GB storage, and an 11MP camera with two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays. We also understand that Surface Duo does not have 5G support, wireless charging, or NFC capabilities. Pricing for the product is still unknown, but we're expecting it to be somewhere in "premium smartphone" territory.

Zac Bowden