Microsoft's next Surface Book could radically redesign what a 2-in-1 is supposed to be like
A new Microsoft patent shows a display hinge design reminiscent of the HP Elite Folio and Acer ConceptD.
What you need to know
- A Microsoft patent shows a new kickstand design that could be used in a new Surface device, possibly Surface Book 4.
- The patent would allow the display to rest at different angles, similar to Apple's Magic Keyboard for the iPad.
- The design would also allow the display of the device to pop forward at an angle while still allowing a person to access its trackpad.
A Microsoft patent could indicate that a significant redesign to the Surface Book is on the way. The patent was spotted by WindowsUnited, shows a different style of display design from Surface Book 3 or Surface Laptop.
As is the case with all patents, this design may never be implemented in a product released to the public and Microsoft doesn't mention any specific device by name in the included documents.
"A hinge of a computing device includes a primary support connecting a display to a stand," says the patent's abstract. "As the display rotates about the stand, the primary support slides along a friction strip, which stabilizes the display with respect to the stand. A stabilizer may connect the stand to the base or the stand to the display."
At first glance, the drawings from the patent look a bit like Apple's Magic Keyboard for the iPad. Based on the figure labeled 7-2, it looks like the design allows the display to rest at different angles, thanks to a stabilizing part (item 728).
The designs also have a lot in common with the HP Elite Folio. That convertible 2-in-1 can pop its screen down for easy viewing while still showing the trackpad.
Future of Surface Book 4?
Questions remain about Microsoft's ambitions with a Surface Book 4. Rumors have been circulating that the company may be rethinking the current Surface Book concept of a detachable display that doesn't seem to get much use these days.
Currently, the Surface Book's processor is limited to that of Ultrabooks due to it being behind the display instead of the base of the computer like all other laptops. With this new redesign, Microsoft could finally make a much more powerful Surface Book while retaining its 2-in-1 roots.
We wrote about these issues back in 2020, calling for Microsoft to effectively make a "Surface Laptop Pro." That looks like it could be happening now as the Surface Book hasn't been redesign since its initial release in 2015.
In our experience with HP's Elite Folio, the pull-it-forward display lets you transform the PC from a full laptop to a presentation mode and a tablet without having to lift the device off your lap. It's a clever design that is easily better than the current Surface Book.
The concept of a pull-it-forward display is not new, either, as Acer has been employing it for years and most recently with its imaginative ConceptD 3 Ezels, but goes back to 2013 with the Acer Aspire R7.
As to when we could see such a device from Microsoft, due to current chip shortages, it seems unlikely this would release in 2021 and, instead, be on the table for 2022. However, Microsoft is good at maintaining secrets, so anything is possible.
Do you think Microsoft should go with this design for Surface Book 4? Let us know in the comments!
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.