Skip to main content

Microsoft wants other PC makers to copy the Surface Dial controller

surface dial teardown
Image used with permission by copyright holder
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.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5: Everything we know so far
Surface Laptop 4 showing display, keyboard deck, and docked pen.

Microsoft's flagship Surface Laptop lineup got a big boost at the end of 2021 with the most powerful Surface to date: The Surface Laptop Studio. Then, before that, there was the Surface Laptop 4 in April. Now that we're in a new year and heading into the spring hardware season, it's time to look ahead to its true predecessor: The Surface Laptop 5.

The Surface Laptop 5 is one of the most anticipated laptops of 2022, but there hasn't yet been any official talk about said device at Microsoft. Yet, given the most recent round of rumors and leaked specs sheets, we do have a wishlist of things we hope to see and a recap of everything Surface Laptop 5 related in one spot.
Price and release date

Read more
This brave developer got Windows running on a Surface Duo
Surface Duo 2 in front of robot.

From Xbox game consoles to HoloLens headsets, regular PCs, and even servers, Windows runs on all different kinds of devices. Now, one developer is now bringing the operating system to a strange place: The Surface Duo.

The developer, Gustave Monce, started the project in the middle of December and has steadily posted updates on Twitter. In his latest update, Monce showcased the Windows 11 install screen running on the left screen of a Surface Duo. He notes that the project is "still early days," but also mentioned that it's satisfying to watch.

Read more
The Surface Studio 3 might not be dead after all
Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Microsoft might still be working on a next-generation Surface Studio all-in-one PC. The device is apparently coming in 2022, alongside refreshes of other Surface products, according to Windows Central's Zac Bowden.

With the release of the Surface Laptop Studio, which was aimed at creators, many thought the Surface Studio lineup might be dead. It was last refreshed by Microsoft in 2018 with the Surface Studio 2. However, it has now been revealed that the pandemic, as well as global chip shortages, forced Microsoft to postpone a Surface Studio 3 beyond 2020 as it had originally intended. Now, the device is "finally on the docket," for the new year, per Bowden's sources.

Read more