Microsoft's 'mobile' efforts are little more than a punch line for most observing the industry. As its quarterly earnings show, Microsoft's Windows phones have finally been reduced to roughly a rounding error for the company.
However, it seems that Microsoft has not fully given up on the dream of being in the hands, pockets or purses of individuals on the go.
A new patent filed by Microsoft to the US Patent and Trademark Office and found by Pocketnow has the company at least dabbling with the concept of a new "wireless communications device."
Almost everything about the description of the patent leans on our modern day definition of smartphones and tablets including:
"Personal computing devices including laptops and tablets may not have onboard wireless data capabilities, such as 3G or LTE transceivers and antennas, and are therefore connected to the Internet when the devices have access to Local Area Networks (LANs), such as via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet. To extend the range of network connectivity for these devices, a user may connect the device to a mobile data network using a wireless communications device, also known as a wireless hotspot."
We don't know much more beyond the patent filing and it's only presumption at this point to suggest we'll see this applied to a piece of hardware any time soon.
There's been some speculation that this is a patent for a new "Surface Phone," but as Pocketnow notes:
... And it’s what that small, purpose-made display will show that essentially makes this a mobile hotspot and not a phone — it can signify connection type, signal strength, network name and speed.
This is a mobile hotspot with a “lid” of antennas that can flipped into an optimal position for signal reception. There’s space for two SIMs or a SIM and flash storage — potentially to double the device’s function as an external storage disk. The device has no other screens. And there’s no hint of it being a modular piece to a phone puzzle — though we could go patent poaching for a proprietary port or something like that.
However, combine this new patent with Microsoft's Surface hardware teams pledge to bring something more than a phone to market someday and the recent Lenovo foldable hardware; jilted Microsoft phone fans might be looking at Westworld-like communication devices coming from the company in the future, or maybe it's just a cool mobile hotspot!