Interestingly, the Surface Duo is still currently scheduled for release before the end of the year.
Aside from screen size, the key difference between the two devices is that the Duo runs Android, while the Neo will come on Windows 10X, a customised version of Windows 10 built for dual-screen devices. It's thought the larger screens on the Neo will make it more suited to productivity than its smaller sibling.
It's highly likely that Microsoft's development of Windows 10X will have been adversely affected by the pandemic, which helps to explaining the delay.
However, even under normal circumstances the Surface Neo was set to arrive more than 12 months after an official announcement.
There's an obvious attraction to this approach - Microsoft was able to announce a brand new product before the rumour mill was able to gain any real momentum. Prior to its October 2019 reveal, we knew the company was working on a foldable device codenamed Project Centaurus, but many of the details were kept under wraps.
However, personally I'd rather hype was built via leaks and rumours, as opposed to confirmed by the company itself. For a long time, I've thought of a product announcement as an opportunity to showcase something that will be in the hands of consumers within a matter of weeks.
With over 12 months between unveiling and release, the challenge of maintaining public interest is so much more difficult. Microsoft's marketing strategy is among the most advanced in the tech world, but even it will struggle to ensure the Surface Neo and Duo still feel exciting once they're finally available.
Of course, the unprecedented disruption in 2020 should make everyone more forgiving, but I just hope this isn't a sign of things to come. I understand these experimental devices might not have mainstream appeal, but there's no excuse for an entire calendar year between announcement and release.
This is especially true considering Microsoft's holds bi-annual hardware events, meaning it could easily have launched the new Surface products this October without too much hassle.