Microsoft’s Surface Pen is one of the best, but its productivity isn’t always on par with a mouse. Scrolling is one of those areas, as users previously had to drag on small scroll boxes to navigate up and down a web page.
However, a recent patent publication suggests Microsoft is working on a solution. The piece describes a pen with a touch-sensitive retention clip that would send data wirelessly to a PC or tablet.
“In some cases, touch input on the display may not be the most convenient form of user interaction with a computing device,” it reads. “…In order to perform a scrolling operation with a stylus via touch input, a user may have to touch the stylus to a scroll bar that is visually presented on a touch-sensitive display. In doing so, the user may have to make small and precise adjustments to the scroll bar that may be difficult to perform.”
“Accordingly, the present disclosure is directed a stylus that includes a touch-sensitive retention clip.”
As well as scrolling, the clip could be used for zooming or other functionality. One example is to save battery, only activating when the user presses the clip to wake it up. Despite the functionality, patents show it looks largely the same, with little weight or thickness difference.
However, it’s not clear how practical the feature would be. Users would have to move their fingers up from their natural resting place at the bottom of the pen. That’s arguably more inconvenient, especially considering recent developments.
With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft enabled the ability to scroll by dragging the Surface Pen across the page, the same as your finger. It’s more likely users would use this when they aren’t directly in front of the screen, such as during presentations.
It’s also clear some users aren’t happy with the way the Surface Pen scrolls. Previously, the tip was used to drag, drop, and select text. With the new changes, it’s much more clunky.
Even so, it’s hard to say if Microsoft will focus on changes on the hardware side or simply refine the software portion. It all depends what other functionality it can dream up for the clip.