Microsoft spent a lot of time this morning highlighting what’s new with Surface, like better battery life, a dual position kick stand, and a lighter weight. But it buried the most interesting update: the potential for a whole new breed of “blades.”
What are blades? A new class of accessories that snap into Surface like the current keyboards snap in place. The first such blade works in conjunction with a DJ app for mixing music but it’s the potential for a whole series of blades for different applications that has people excited.
“We always dreamed of extending the Surface platform using the blade interface. We created it with this concept in mind from day one. Glad you like it... keep an eye out for more,” a Microsoft exec wrote during a Reddit AMA about the Surface this afternoon.
The executives didn’t reveal much about what’s to come but it’s clear from the questions and comments during the AMA that people are excited about the idea.
After a number of questions about future blades, a Microsoft executive (there were many who participated in the AMA and they didn’t always identify who was writing), asked participants to say what kind of blades they’d like to see.
A couple said that they’d like to see a blade designed to work with Adobe Photoshop. Another person suggested that a video editing blade would be useful.
One person said a blade with large, simple buttons and a large touchpad for drawing could be good for use with apps for kids.
A couple people see the blade concept as a potential to revive the Courier. “I think this is pretty awesome and I'm excited at the idea that this could eventually evolve into a second screen that magnetically clips on and we'd finally have the Courier that so many were excited about!” one person wrote.
The Courier was an internal Microsoft project -- a two-screened e-reader and tablet. The leaked designs generated a lot of excitement and then disappointment when Microsoft said it didn’t plan to actually build a product based on the design.
Microsoft would be smart to open up development of blades to third parties. That way any app developer could create a custom blade that would work with their app. Users might have a handful – or more – blades that they’d swap out for different uses.
Check out the video Microsoft posted today about a visit it made to a design school where it asked students to imagine what kinds of blades they’d like to invent.