A new Microsoft patent hints that the company could be working on a Surface-branded "modular computing device" aimed at fans of do-it-yourself projects.
Previously, Microsoft is rumored to be working on its Surface phone to replace the Lumia smartphone series. Now, if the patent posted at the United States Patent and Trademark Office is any indication, it looks like Microsoft's Surface team is also readying a modular PC.
The Redmond-based company applied for the patent back in July 2015, but it was just published last Thursday. One of the authors of the patent is Tim Escolin, a senior industrial designer at Microsoft's Surface devices and accessories team.
Microsoft's patent demonstrates how the PC will turn out to be. Based on the diagrams, the desktop machine enables users to easily replace parts such as processors, memory, graphics or storage, instead of purchasing an entire new computer when upgrades become available. This means the users could add in new functionality to the computer should the need arise.
From the looks of it, a display is included in the hardware design. With the use of a hinge, the stackable hardware can be hooked to the display. This stackable hardware encloses removable modules, such as storage, battery, processor, memory, graphics card, wireless communication component, speakers and holographs. The modules also have housings that are "configured to be physically and communicatively coupled to the display device of the display modular component."
Moreover, the components are, of course, swappable.
“In this way, the computing device may be altered and changed readily by a user in an intuitive manner without requiring detailed knowledge of the hardware,” reads the patent.
Google is already toying with the idea of manufacturing modular devices via its Project Ara. Acer, in the meantime, has also its modular mini-desktop. As such, it is not at all surprising if Microsoft will also build is own modular device, in the form of a modular PC.
On top of that, there is no denying that Microsoft's Surface brand has picked up traction, with the help of its Surface tablet and Surface Pro 4. This fuels the possibility that Microsoft, particularly its Surface hardware team, could have more new things in the pipeline, which might include this machine.
Do note, though, that having applied for a patent does not guarantee that this concept could soon materialize. Nevertheless, it is great to see what Microsoft has in mind at the moment.