Well, it looks like Microsoft is looking to, once again, make a return to the hardware space with a newly filed “modular computing device” patent. As the name implies, if this idea were to actually make its way into production, owners of the machine would be able to upgrade and replace certain components of their Microsoft-branded PC without advanced DIY computer-building knowledge.
As VentureBeat reports, the patent was filed last July, prior to being published this past Thursday, February 11. Notably, Tim Escolin, an industrial designer on Microsoft’s Surface devices and accessories team, is credited with co-authoring the patent, indicating that it might share the Surface branding.
A combination of offering modular hardware in conjunction with the Surface qualifier would make sense for Microsoft, given both the multifaceted success of the company’s Surface Book and Surface Pro lineups and the interest the firm has demonstrated in modular accessories with the Xbox One Elite controller.
Two years ago, Microsoft first indicated an interest in modular PC development while promoting Razer’s Project Christine PC. Interestingly enough, however, the computer is still available on the market despite being revealed as far back at CES 2014. Fortunately, Acer’s Revo Build Mini PC took customization into its own hands with an affordable $225 entry-level price tag.
Unlike other modular PC examples, if the aforementioned patent makes its way into production, Microsoft plans on packaging in a display with the computer, effectively making it a modular all-in-one. The rest of the hardware, consisting of a removable battery, a processor, a graphics card, memory, storage, speakers, and a wireless card, is to be attached by hinge to the display. There’s even mention of components for gesture recognition and holographic projection, perhaps hinting at some cross-functionality with HoloLens.
Furthermore, the components are encompassed by magnetic shells that you can mix and match as you see fit.
“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,” write the patent authors.
Of course, as with all patent filings, we can’t be sure this is a product we’ll actually see come to fruition in the near, or even distant future, but it is fun to speculate nonetheless.