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Microsoft Surface RT’s magnetic power adapter shows up online

Ever since the Microsoft Surface was announced there has been some discussion about its power adapter. That may seem like an topic to focus on but it is only because Microsoft appears to be borrowing a great feature from Apple: its magnetic power plug.

For those of you who don’t use Apple products, their laptops have a plug that “magically” sticks to the computer and charges via a tiny magnetic port. The benefit here is less wear and tear on the connector and if you accidently pull the plug or trip on the wire, it just pops off instead of dragging the laptop to the floor. It’s actually really nice.

With the Surface you’re going to have the same experience. In fact, the plug looks remarkably like Apple’s (they both have 5 prongs), which makes us wonder if Microsoft is licensing the technology from Cupertino [Edit: Turns out Microsoft has a patent on it]. Personally, we see this as a big selling point as once you go magnetic, you won’t ever want to fiddle with standard laptop power adapters again.

Source: Suning; via WPDang

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

44 Comments
  • It's beautiful
  • You are sure right about never going back from a magnetic plug. Thing sure is fantastic.
  • I would pretty much guarantee they got licensing from Apple. This is pretty much the magsafe patent to a T.
  • if not, they are asking for a lawsuit
  • I have a deep fryer with a magnetic power cord...lol.
  • im assuming that highlights just how important the feature is from a safety standpoint. 200deg    chip oil on the feet anyone? 
  • My electric kettle has a magnetic cord...
  • In all seriousness it is ridiculous that Apple were granted that patent. As you point out the magnetic plug concept has been used on deep fryers / oil cookers for as long as ive been alive. Just because you use it on a computer doesnt make it an invention. The patent system is broken and Apple are abusing it to stifle competition. I have always said to those who criticise Microsofts monopolist behaviour that Apple just wished that they could do half of what MS did. Now they have their chance and their true colours are showing for all to see.
  • Microsoft and Apple have a cross-licensing agreement for patents for as long as I can remember
  • I wrote a comment below, but just meant to have it be a reply to this.
    They aren't licensing this from Apple... Microsoft filed for a patent awhile ago. Differs due to power AND data.
    http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/14/microsoft-magnetic-patent-application/
  • Oh cool mtpfischer. I did not realize this. Thanks for the info!
  • I thought apple patented it.
  • Microsoft got a patent for a reversible magnetic charger several months back before apple revealed the new charger for the Iphone, which is also reversible..
  • Why would MS get licensing from Apple when they've got the patent for it?!!!
  • oh that's just the way it is then and I am really expecting that this magnetic power adapter is really good. how do heat exchangers work
  • Cool. Is there still a brick someplace?
  • Probably, though they have become significantly smaller lately.
  • 5 prongs doesn't mean anything other than two different voltages in the device. The fifth prong is a ground.
  • They aren't licensing this from Apple... Microsoft filed for a patent awhile ago. Differs due to power AND data.
    http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/14/microsoft-magnetic-patent-application/
  • Your right. I just posted the same thing. Microsoft may very well be using their own patent here.
  • That says they applied for the patent. But did it get approved?
  • I'm sure it was approved just based on the fact that they have some of the best patent attorneys out there.
  • Magnetic plugs are cute and all, but to say, "if you trip on the cord your laptop wont fall!" isn't really true. The magnet are really strong. I've been using a dented macbook pro with a blotchy screen for over a year (granted, these could differ from apple's, but we're talking about macbooks right?). There it was, on my desk, minding it's own business, when dips*** over here (me) caught the cord that was idiotically wound all over the floor and smash goes my $1,300 laptop against my tile floor. On the plus side, it's so much easier to plug in than your standard laptop adapter...  but really, it wont save you from your clumsiness... so just be careful.
  • I have been using MACs since last 6 years after I started using them at work. 
    Now, magnetic adapter is good, as Daniel mentioned. 
    But Apple's power cords have one disadvantage. Not sure, if people have noticed this or not, but the way they designed the magnetic port and power cords in macs for last 3 years, the cord gets bent and starts burning (yellowish tint) and breaks at the point near the magnetic port and/or near the point of the main power brick. 
    I hope, Microsoft also doesn't design their power cords like that. I believe, Apple also recently changed that design in retina MBPs, but the longevity of the cords remains to be seen. 
     
  • Just curious... Doesn't all of this fall under their cross licensing agreement? Or does Microsoft have to license this specifically? Also, didn't Microsoft apply for a similar patent? Http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/14/microsoft-magnetic-patent-application/ I know on that patent diagram they are using the 5 prong magnetic adapter for a phone, but that could conceivably apply to anything they make.
  • Thats awesome!!! Hopefully they'll drop the price in a few months, or ATT sells them!
  • So you can't use the keyboard if you are charging it? Is that right?
    Okay I guess I was wrong, the power is on the side it seems.
  • Microsoft is really into something and i do really appreciate for the good job they've done..... more information
  • This is not an Apple innovation.  Yes, Microsoft holds its own patents; however, RIM also uses a version. 
  • Don't forget Palm and it's Veer, and that port was able to double for a headset jack as well as power.
  • It's a nice stop-gap measure until we get wireless power. That is the holy freaking grail!
  • Microsoft used this already, like for instance in their xbox1 wired joystick
  • That was not magnetic.
  • +1
  • Magnetic plugs aren't exactly new ppl, this has been on asian appliance for yrs
  • Nice. I always like that plug. On the 26th it will be mine. ;)
  • "MagSafe works exactly the same as the magnetic power connectors that many deep fryers and Japanese countertop cooking appliances from the early 2000s"
     
    Apple deserves little credit
  • It's pronounced "no credit".
  • Why didn't Microsoft make this a standard for Windows Phone 8 devices...
  • Agreed
  • Proprietary.  When Micro USB standard becomes magnetic, which would be cool, then Microsoft will use it in phones. Besides, I prefer wireless charging to this.
  • I am not sure if wireless charging can be done through metals; Aluminum, Magnesium, etc. That's another reason for reinforced polymers (or as some like to call; cheap 'plastic' instead of 'really' cheap aluminum.
  • We had slate tiles glued on our timber floors. Solution for us was to use a shovel to get under the tiles, and lever them up. Don't be afraid to get into it. They've since been sanded and polished and I defy ANYONE  to tell there were tiles glued there before. Goggles are a must of course... Water Damage Austin
  • honesty, I don't know anything about this microsoft surface rt magnetic power adapter and yes it's basically what I always need to do and to be done. it's really one of the best. Arizona Pool Service