The next Surface Pro could be much thinner, thanks to a redesigned keyboard

Surface Pro 6 Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 6 doesn’t look very different from previous models, but there is now reason to believe future versions of the premium 2-in-1 just might be a bit thinner and lighter. A recent patent uncovered by the Dutch blog Windows United suggests that Microsoft is considering making the Surface slimmer by pulling off some weight changes to its Type Cover accessory.

patent suggests a redesigned surface pro in 2019 capture
A diagram from Microsoft’s patent (via WIPO Patentscope)

Originally filed on June 28, 2018, the patent describes a method for “cutting or etching” a circuit board directly into the touchpad of a keyboard. According to Windows United, this can reduce the height of the Surface Type Cover.

Microsoft’s patent obviously does not refer to that purpose directly, but the overview points to methods for addressing common problems and making a device that is both slimmer and lighter. It also points to ways for conserving space, and “not requiring additional space and additional components within a device chassis for a separate touch input device.”

“For instance, a touch interaction region of the input device is formed by cutting and/or etching a portion of the circuit board such that the touch interaction region is movable with respect to adjacent portions of the circuit board. According to one or more embodiments, an input device includes a switch such that movement of the touch interaction region actuates the switch to generate a click input event,” explains Microsoft in the patent.

If this patent holds up, this would not be the first time that Microsoft has made changes to the Type Cover. Over the past few Surface Pro generations, the optional accessory has gotten slightly larger and picked up a bigger trackpad. Microsoft also recently started using a new Alcantara material to create a more premium feel and finish for end users.

Of course, not all patents make their its way to a final product, but Microsoft has definitely been considering new technologies for the Surface. We previously saw a patent for a reflective touch display, as well as a new Surface Pen in recent months.

There is also still some hope that a much different Surface device could be coming soon. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, a well-known Microsoft watcher, believes that a heavily redesigned Surface Pro, with USB C ports, might arrive toward the middle of next year.

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