Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update event, which was held on Wednesday, was full of software and hardware announcements aimed at creative professionals. The Surface Studio was the event’s lynchpin, a pricey but groundbreaking new machine for anyone who works with visual arts.
And one small new piece of hardware drew all the oohs and aahs: The Surface Dial, which resembles a hockey puck, is a rotary haptic controller that provides a unique and innovative way to work with applications — and it’s not going to be a Microsoft-only concept, The Verge reports.
Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Windows and Devices chief, indicated that a great deal of thought went into creating a controller that would allow creative professionals to work with both hands on the screen. “When the team went out and looked at the creative process, there is something about this idea that people use both hands. This idea that when someone holds a pen, what is the other hand doing so you can bring them back into the full creative zone?”
Those sorts of questions are what led Microsoft to invent the Surface Dial and its unique dual personality that allows it to work off-screen with any Windows 10 Anniversary Update machine or on-screen with the Surface Studio is a major aspect of its appeal. At the same time, the ability of the Surface Dial to take on different functionality per app is also appealing.
The Surface Dial is another example of how Microsoft is using the Surface line to push the Windows 10 ecosystem forward. Microsoft has no problem whatsoever with its Windows original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners making their own rotary controllers that plug into the Windows 10 functionality in the manner of the Surface Dial.
As Myerson said, “Everything we’re doing here, we’re actively working with partners on their own expression of the idea. We put a lot of R&D into creating these. We’re going to try lots of ideas, and we’re going to develop some of them and get really serious about them, but then all of this technology is available to our partners. I look forward to them taking the pieces of it and creating their own expression for their own customers.”
While Apple continues its efforts to keep people tied to its own hardware and software, Microsoft remains firmly headed in the opposite direction. As always, Microsoft remains a company that’s committed to pushing the Windows ecosystem forward, even as it transitions to a “cloud-first, mobile-first” productivity solutions company. And it will clearly continue to use Surface to push its OEMs in new and innovative directions.