Microsoft dual-screen device patent ditches volume buttons for virtual controls

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Surface logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft dual-screen device patent ditches volume buttons for virtual controls

Image: Patently Mobile

What you need to know

  • A patent recently granted to Micorsoft ditches volume buttons on a dual-screen device.
  • In their place, the device would use virtual on-screen controls.
  • The patent may well portend what we can expect with Microsoft's rumored Centaurus device, but it's worth taking with a giant grain of salt.

Dual-screen PCs feel like they're just around the corner, and adding fuel to that speculation is a raft of patents Microsoft has been granted in recent years. Recently, another such patent was spotted by Patently Mobile (via MSPU), describing a dual-screen device that would ditch physical volume buttons for virtual controls.

The elimination of physical volume rockers is somewhat notable because it would be a major shift from how smartphones and tablets currently operate. The figures included with the patent are where things get a little more interesting, however. We're shown the device inseveral different configurations, ranging from the displays positioned side-by-side to variations on how the flexible hinge is folded. In one example, the displays are folded back on one another, with one on each side. Another shows them closed on top of one another.

Further in the figures, Microsoft indicates that the displays can be running two different programs at once. In this case, a music app is on the lft screen while a game occupies the right screen. There are on-screen sound controls that allow you to adjust the volume and properties of the sound being projected.

Microsoft applied for this patent in June of 2017 and it was granted in July of 2019.

Microsoft is said to be working on a dual-screen Surface device codenamed "Centaurus." The company was reported to have even shown the device off to employees at a recent company meeting. Reporting indicates Microsoft has been working on Centaurus for about two years and that it could debut this fall running a version of Windows Core OS.

Given that we've seen a number of dual-screen PC prototypes pop up in recent years, it's not surprising Microsoft is at least working on one of its own. Whether this patent gives us a glimpse at some of what we can expect, however, is up in the air. Companies, especially Microsoft, patent things all of the time that never see the light of day.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Is not the probability even higher for Microsoft to ditch the whole centaurius concept? At least it looks like it is on hold for this year.
  • This is Microsoft’s not so clever attempt to distract from their ‘surprise’ Andromeda announcement in the fall.
  • I'm so bored of seeing patents for this non-existing vaporware that we've been teased with for years.
  • Who is making you come here?
  • I come here for other news
  • Lol... Ok. Well, filter
  • Where is the button to filter out articles about unicorns?
  • Seems like a mistake to ditch the physical volume buttons. One of the joys of using a mobile-OS device when listening to music is to change the volume by touch with the screen off.
  • I still don't why someone would buy a dual screen tablet instead of a foldable one. If it used MicroLED technology I would understand but there is no reason to do it with OLED.
  • Foldable screens might not be a mature enough of a technology for some people, especially after the Samsung issues. I think when it works reliably and could potentially fold even thinner then it'd be preferable.
  • It is going to be tough selling either style, especially if it doesn't replace your phone or laptop. Apple might be able to sell a foldable iPad, everyone else will struggle.
  • Satya will ditch the device like most of the others he's already abandoned. Cortana is being dumped from the glass thermostat in favor of Alexa and Google assistant all due to lack of focus on MS behalf which is a direct refection of Satya. How is AI so important to him if you're dumping your own? If they're trying to be the backbone of AI the best way to demostrate your product is to show how good it is with your own assistant with advanced skills/features right and in your own products.
  • Yup. They will realize that dual screens devices like this are a gimmick with no real use, especially within Microsoft's non-existent touch ecosystem. This will be cancel for whatever shiny object they start developing next. Gimmicks aren't the answer here. Solid, easy to use, productive devices are. Pointless dual screens and folding will just make the device too expensive and limit the single screen functionality due to size constraints.
  • We need windows phone OS and Windows phone devices back, not this....