A recent patent application (opens in new tab) revealed Microsoft's plans to add a new writing surface (opens in new tab)to its Surface Book laptop. That surface wouldn't replace any of the Surface Book's current input sources, per the filing, and would instead be used alongside the existing trackpad.
“[The device] includes a main computing unit and a detachable writing input device, joined by a connecting mechanism. The main computing unit includes a main display device, while the writing input device hosts a keyboard and a writing surface. The writing surface, in turn, includes a digitizer for capturing ink data in response to a user drawing on the writing surface and a writing display device for displaying ink strokes associated with the ink data that has been captured by the digitizer," Microsoft said in the filing.
The new writing surface would also include "a transfer control component" that sends the "ink data captured by the writing device" to the main device. Meanwhile, another component would classify "note pages received from the writing input device into one or more categories of notes."
All of which means the next Surface Book could include a small writing surface next to its trackpad that can enable digital note-taking alongside normal use of the laptop's keyboard. That surface would also be able to apply some kind of basic categorization that (presumably) makes sure everything works as anticipated.
Emphasis on "could," though, because there's no guarantee Microsoft will actually release a product featuring this technology. The application was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May.
It's worth noting, however, that the Surface Book was one of the only Surface devices that Microsoft didn't update in October (opens in new tab). Perhaps the company was waiting for this new "writing input device" to be ready before updating the laptop (opens in new tab). Or maybe this will lead exactly where many patent applications lead: absolutely nowhere.