Microsoft’s latest hardware platform is similar to what engineers used to work on – the drawing board

Introducing a product that appeals to IT departments is not that difficult; there’s connectivity, continuity and ever increasing capability. This is why Microsoft, not the traditional inhabitants of the workstation space, knew that it had to do something different if it was to make its mark.

“We’re seeing more end user influence coming through,” says Matt Chapman, Microsoft’s Surface products marketing manager. “Even in larger engineering and design firms, users want the sort of devices that push the boundaries of innovation and design, which is what we do on Surface.”

The Surface family includes the laptop Surface Book and the tablet Surface Pro 4. However, the next addition is the Surface Studio. This has a 28inch touchscreen with 4500 x 3000 pixels and is designed to satisfy engineers running meaty CAD applications.

The ‘canvas’ or horizontal position is possible because of the zero gravity hinge. This allows seamless movement between the vertical and horizontal with any position reliably supported in between. Additionally, it can be swivelled round making it suitable for demonstrations and collaborative working.

Chapman says: “What users really like, specifically in the canvas, downwards position, is the interaction point between the pen and the touch, and the dial that allows you to get really deep into your product.”

In other words, the tactile feel of the old drawing board is returning. The dial mentioned is a moveable device that has the objective of keeping the user within the workflow. It is a small round device that allows users to click through options such as colours, without having to use a mouse.

As well as certifying the whole device, Siemens NX, Solidworks and soon Autodesk have all integrated the dial function. Apart from the pen and dial, there is of course the traditional keyboard and mouse to complete the interface options.