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Microsoft Surface product line is going full-circle at last

Surface device with fingerprint sensor

According to a new patent filed by Microsoft, titled: “Fingerprint Detection With Transparent Cover”, the possibility that we’ll see a Surface Phone this Fall or early next year is becoming very real, with a big hint on the kind of changes we might find also in future Surface touchscreen products, like the Surface Pro tablet, and Surface Book.

The patent describes a method of implementing a fingerprint reader inside a touchscreen, to allow users to unlock devices or authorize different processes, by pressing their fingers anywhere on the screen, and not just on a single designated area.

The immediate advantage of this design will be apparent on smartphones, as it will offer a more convenient way to unlock a phone with one hand. Currently, unlocking a smartphone using a thumb is the most efficient way, but in some cases it still requires the user to hold the smartphone with two hands, because the sensor is located at the bottom of a device that may be as big as 5 or 6 inches in size, as it is true with the iPhone 7 Plus or any number of Samsung Galaxy phablets.

Microsoft has recently sold most of its Lumia assets, and while many have seen this as a sign of Microsoft’s disinterest in making mobile phones, the reality might prove quite the contrary. In fact, Microsoft is all about mobile, and its latest devices prove it, along with an ecosystem that is very focused on cloud services.

The turning point for Microsoft as an established hardware manufacturer, happened long before the Surface Book, and long before Lumia. The not-so-subtle difference between Apple and Microsoft, in reference to devices, is that while Microsoft is not overly obsessed with creating visual works of art, Microsoft’s focus is on building devices that pack innovative concepts and features, yet with an eager roughness, and without worries of creating an immediate hit.

This stance on hardware allows the company to change course in mid-air, just like it did with the original Surface Tablet, as it sees fit, and according to what customers want. This degree of freedom and flexibility is important, as it places Microsoft in a position where nobody can predict what the company will build next.

In this regard, the one thing that Microsoft cannot survive without, is a proper product line and an ecosystem. Apple has been a pioneer in creating the perfect software/hardware ecosystem, and Microsoft has done well in catching up, with Microsoft Surface and OneDrive, even if there are a few steps that still needs to be taken towards creating an ironclad environment for consumers to truly feel that they have an alternative to Apple.

This is especially true when statistics say that consumers are much more likely to buy iPhones and iPads, if they already own a Mac computer, reason being the iOS/Mac OS X ecosystem.

Once Microsoft perfects its ecosystem strategy, and closes the loop on Surface, it’s very possible that Apple may have to deal with a tougher competitor than it did in the past.

This is why a Surface Phone is not only in the works (perhaps with a different name, as it often turns out), but it will most likely be accompanied by a range of products set to close the loop on the Surface line, including a desktop all-in-one to take on the Apple iMac Retina directly, with the added bonus of a touchscreen.

Rumors of a Surface Phone have been making the rounds for several years now, and what makes this time so right in regard to finally being able to create this device, is that Microsoft has finally enough experience in the mobile market to create its own device, the way it should.

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