Microsoft’s new USB-C port could enable even slimmer Surface products

Microsoft had been hard at work prepping for the transition to USB-C, and the fruits of that labor could soon appear in future Surface hardware. Microsoft had filed two separate USB-C patents — one for the USB-C housing and a second patent for the cabling — with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dating back to April and May 2017.

The housing assembly, according to Microsoft’s patent filing, “may be directly attached to the chassis of the computing device and may secure a USB-C plug.” The design encompasses curved side walls and a tongue assembly with a mid-plate. And by allowing the housing to be directly attached to the chassis of a device without needing top or bottom wall plates, the design could allow Microsoft to save space to make thinner devices.

microsoft thin usb c housing patent port uspto

Microsoft claims that the housing could either be bolted to the chassis or attached via an adhesive compound, like glue or epoxy. Another option is to mold the housing with the chassis, which would add extra strength to the structure to prevent accidental damage to the USB-C port if, for example, the USB-C cable was pulled out or twisted out at an angle.

“It may be advantageous to integrally attach and/or form the housing with the chassis to simplify manufacturing costs,” Microsoft said in its filing. “Being integrally attached also ensures a firm connection between the housing and chassis for transferring torques to the chassis.”

Microsoft’s rumored foldable computing device code-named Andromeda, which will likely be part of the growing Surface family, could benefit from this new port design. Given the more compact device of this device and the requirements needed for a foldable screen, a slim USB-C enclosure assembly would make sense to keep Andromeda as thin as possible for mobility. Andromeda could launch as early as late this year.

The second patent is for a USB-C connector, which includes the USB-C tip and the cable assembly. That patent appears to be straightforward.

Microsoft has already adopted USB-C on several of its products. The port appeared first on Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950XL smartphones, and the Surface Book 2 most recently became the first device in Microsoft’s Surface family to ship with USB-C built in. In addition to the Surface Book line, Microsoft also has a Surface Pro tablet, the Surface Laptop, and the Surface Studio desktop. These products have not made the transition to USB-C yet, but Microsoft is rumored to be working on hardware refreshes that will ad the port to other products in the Surface family. Microsoft has long been rumored to be working on a Surface Pro 6 refresh with a USB-C port, and the company’s patent filing depicts a tablet with the port in one illustration. Microsoft is also rumored to be working on a low-cost Surface Tablet.

A prior patent suggests that Microsoft may even replace its beloved magnetic Surface Connector port with a magnetic USB-C port with a breakaway cable that would make the computer safer to use in the event someone trips over the cord.


Get the Surface Pro 6, with keyboard included, for $1,000 at Microsoft

Thinking of buying a Surface Pro 6? Microsoft is currently running a deal on its latest Windows 2-in-1, letting you bring one home for $1,000 with the keyboard included in the price.

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go vs. Surface Pro — which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

Man pleads guilty to scamming Facebook and Google out of more than $100M

One of the men behind an elaborate fraud that saw Facebook and Google each hand over tens of millions of dollars has admitted to his part in the scheme. Lithuanian Evaldas Rimasauskas faces up to 30 years in a U.S. jail.
Product Review

HP’s gem-cut Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 you can buy

HP’s 2019 Spectre x360 15 brings this massive 2-in-1 up to speed, literally. It now equips the same six-core Intel CPU as the rest of the 15-inch field, along with a real GPU for some 1080p gaming.

Ditch the background from your photos with these handy editing tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence, we'll show you how.

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.

Tired of all that white? Here's how to change the Google background image

Did you know that you can change how your Google search home page looks? It's a simple process to pick a new theme: We'll show you how to change your Google background, what to look for in themes, and how to download your own pictures for a…

These big, beautiful BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on Amazon right now

All gamers know that a good monitor is just as important as PC hardware to fully enjoy what today's games have to offer. BenQ makes some of the best (including some of our favorites), and three top-rated BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on…

The best Raspberry Pi 3 kits for coders, gamers, and DIY projects

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a low-budget computing platform capable of doing just about anything. We rounded up a handful of the best Raspberry Pi 3 bundles to get you started on a variety of DIY projects.

Need a portable workstation? One of these two 15-inch laptop might do the trick

HP's Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 around, but it faces stiff large-laptop competition. Can it beat out powerful clamshells like well-built Apple MacBook Pro 15?