The primary reason that Microsoft’s original Surface RT tablet never took off was the lack of apps. It was running a Windows on ARM and could only run apps written specifically for the platform. Shortly after, Microsoft abandoned the platform entirely and focused solely on the x86 driven Surface Pro and Surface Book devices. The best case scenario would be an ARM-powered device, that could run x86, using some kind of emulation. According to rumors, it looks like that might be a reality in 2017.
According to sources speaking to Mary Jo Foley, the capability will ship with an update called Redstone 3 sometime in fall 2017. This will address the biggest issue with Windows Mobile’s Continuum feature, which allows a Windows Phone to use a dock that is connected to a screen, keyboard and mouse. At present, that mode only supports the UWP program standard that is available for Windows Phones.
This could be released with the never-confirmed but much-rumored Surface Phone. With the Surface Pro tablet, Surface Book laptop, the Surface Phone would slot in nicely to a rich and well-engineered device lineup for Microsoft. Throw in the artist-inspired Surface Studio and the lineup looks complete. However, Microsoft would not want to launch another smartphone under the Surface brand unless it brought something new to the table. It looks like x86 emulation and full desktop experience with Continuum could be the edge that Microsoft is looking for.