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Microsoft's Surface Team continues their work on a Future iMac Competitor

1AF 55 COVER  fig. 2 msft desktop modular

In June Patently Apple posted a report titled "Microsoft Rumored to be Preparing an iMac Challenger," wherein we outlined Microsoft's clear intentions of matching all of Apple's devices from a smartphone through to an iMac competitor in the not-too-distant future.


Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Apple slowly, methodically and single handedly destroyed the traditional PC market that may not truly recover until sometime in 2017-2018, according to IDC. But Microsoft wants to be ready for the rebound in enterprise and consumer markets and is determined to challenge Apple on this front with a new desktop computer concept. Our report covers some of the highlights from Microsoft's second patent covering a modular desktop computer that was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month. Below are a few new patent figures supporting their potential new iMac Challenger.


2af 55 msft desktop modular

Microsoft's patent FIG. 1 is an illustration of an environment #100. The illustrated environment includes a computing device having a modular configuration. The computing device #102 may assume a variety of configurations. As illustrated in FIG. 1, the computing device assumes a "desktop" configuration.


However, the system could be configured to be a portable television set or set top box or game console by simply adding modules.


In one or more implementations, a computing device is assembled from a plurality of modular components formed using respective housings that may be physically and communicatively coupled, one to another, without the use of tools to add desired functionality.


For example, 1) a display modular component may include a housing, a display device, and a power supply configured to power the display. 2) A computing modular component may be attached to the display modular component to add processing and memory functionality, as well as receive power from the display modular component. 3) Accessory modular components may also be attached, such as to support input via a natural user interface, add speakers, a battery, and so on.


In the illustrated example, the modular components are illustrated as assuming a stacked configuration in which one modular component is stacked "on top" of another modular component. For example, a magnetic coupling device may be included such that magnetism is utilized to form a physical connection between the components. The magnetic coupling device, for instance, may include a flux fountain in which a plurality of magnets are arranged (e.g., perpendicular to each other) to steer a field of flux "outward" away from the components to increase a securing force than would otherwise be the case if the magnets were aligned such that the fields were also aligned, one to another.


3AF 88


Microsoft's patent FIG. 4 depicts an example implementation #400 in which movement of the display device in relation to the housing of the display modular component is shown. This implementation is shown using first and second examples #402 and # 404. In the first example #402, the display device #114 is illustrated as generally perpendicular to an axis of the housing #110 of the display modular component #108 that is defined as corresponding to a surface of the housing to which other modular components and connected and/or to a surface on which the housing is to be placed upon. Thus, this may be thought of as an "upright" configuration such that a user may view the display device in a manner that mimics interaction with a desktop computer.


In the second example #404, the display device is rotated using the hinge mechanism #116 to "lay flat" against the surface of the housing of the display modular component #108 that defined the axis described above. This may be thought of as a "writing configuration" in which a user may interact with touchscreen functionality of the display device 114, e.g., via gestures, a stylus, and so on. In this way, a user may comfortably interact with the display device to perform handwriting, drawing, and so on.


Some of the other features related to this modular computer is a touchscreen display, a 3D depth camera to support facial recognition, iris scanning, in-air gestures, motion gestures, a projector system that could support a virtual keyboard option and finally a thermal system, such as to draw in air from a front and exhaust through the sides and back. For more details, see Microsoft's latest patent filing on a modular desktop here.


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