Surface head of devices Panos Panay says the development of the Surface Duo phone and Surface Neo dual-screen tablet has been a long journey. 

We went along to Microsoft’s recently-opened flagship store in Oxford Circus, London to hear Panos introduce the company's new Surface Pro X, Pro 7 and Surface Laptop 3. But predictably he whipped the Neo and Duo out of his pocket for a quick preview. 

On the early reveal of Neo and Duo - which won't hit stores for another year - Panay said: "The conversation ‘how do we announce a new product that’s not available for another year’ was a big debate for us.

"I’d never launched a product early before - although we didn’t launch it, we announced it. That was emotional. Sharing what we were working on early…was challenging. Having those conversations."

Pocket-lintThe Surface Phone has been in development for years image 2

Panay was crystal clear in talking about the Surface Neo and Duo as a new category. "We think we have something here that’s the start of new category…they have been in development for years and [we want to] get them in developers' hands.

"I think they’re new products, I don’t think they’re replacement products. Some people will move from laptops for sure. The key thing now is to [get them out there]."

On the spread of Surface devices, Panay added: "We’re pretty proud this year because we have options for everyone, we have a device for everyone. That is part of empowerment, choose what you want – take it and go.

"Our job is to make products that fade into the background…to help you achieve what you want to achieve."