Surface Laptop 3 13.5Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (2020).Source: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central

What you need to know

  • A patent from Microsoft shows the design of an interchangeable back for computing devices.
  • The design could be used in a Surface Laptop or other Surface device in the future.
  • As with all patents, the designs may never be used in a real device.

A patent from Microsoft discusses a new way to customize Surface devices. WindowsUnited recently spotted a patent from Microsoft for interchangeable back panels on computing devices. While the designs discussed in the patent may never come to real devices, it's interesting to see how Microsoft could take advantage of swappable backplates.

As is the case with many patents, this one doesn't refer to a specific Surface device. Instead, it just refers to "computing devices." But if this design ever saw the light of day, whichi is a big if, it could potentially be implemented on a Surface Laptop 3, Surface Book 3, or other Surface devices.

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The patent describes a back panel of a computing device that you could easily swap out. This could be useful for changing the look of your device. It could also come in handy if you've damaged the back of your device and want to replace it.

Here is the abstract from the patent:

Interchangeable housing panel components for a display housing of a portable computing device. The interchangeable housing panel component is sized and dimensioned to be received by a receiving portion of the computing device. A first interchangeable housing panel component is quickly installed by a user to customize the appearance of their computing device and, when desired, is also quickly removed, from the computing device. A second interchangeable housing panel component can then be installed on the same computing device, transforming the appearance of their computing device. When desired, the second interchangeable housing panel component can be removed and the first interchangeable housing panel component can be reinstalled, returning the computing device to its previous appearance. The housing panel components and computing device include provisions for easy removal and installation of the components.

That's patent speak for "you can easily swap the back panel of the device."

There are already several ways to customize the look of a laptop, like skins and even covers made of wood. The patent acknowledges these options but points out that they aren't perfect solutions.

Some covers can't be easily removed, and taking stickers off a device can take time. People can also damage a device while trying to customize its look. Microsoft's patent describes how a replaceable panel could be an easier way to customize devices.

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