A Microsoft Touch Cover for iPad? Unlikely

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Microsoft Surface, Mobile with 4 Comments

A Microsoft Touch Cover for iPad? Unlikely

Bloggers have uncovered Microsoft documentation for a product called the iPad Touch Cover. Is Microsoft bringing the ill-fated Surface Touch Cover to its primary rival?

No. Obviously no.

But this is still interesting. Because it is obvious that Microsoft considered doing so. And now, confronted by this fact, I’m curious about a true Microsoft Type Cover for iPad Pro. Would the software giant ever make such a thing?

First, here’s what happened. Bloggers from WinFuture discovered a Microsoft document online (you can see it here) that refers to an iPad Touch Cover. According to the documentation, it includes a lithium-ion battery, which is a clue, I think, to the age of this document.

By which I mean, the original Surface Touch Cover, which shipped in 2012, as well as the second and final generation Type Cover, did not include a battery. Instead, they connected to the device via a hardware connection that Microsoft still utilizes. (Microsoft did briefly sell a battery with Bluetooth connectivity for these covers so that you could use them away from the Surface device.)

Apple’s iPads don’t have physical connections for keyboards or keyboard covers. But iPad Pro—which was first introduced in 2015—does. So the presence of batteries in a supposed iPad Touch Cover suggests either that Microsoft designed this before iPad Pro or that it is simply Bluetooth-based and would work with any iPad. The former is more likely, I think.

Regardless, the name of thing suggests that it is, of course, a Touch Cover. Which Microsoft hasn’t made in years. And the model number, 1719, is likewise interesting. I’ve been trying to compile a list of model numbers for existing Surface Type Covers and Touch Covers, but have come up short. So we’ll have to continue to speculate where this thing falls.

More interesting to me, however, is the sudden notion of Microsoft bringing more hardware to competing devices like iPad or, more important, iPad Pro. Given the recent gains Surface has made, would Microsoft really contribute to the success of a competitor?

Honestly, yeah. I think they would.

You have to remember the awful calculus that goes into any Microsoft decision like this. And when it comes to the future of the company, the high-overhead, zero profits Surface business gets a lot of attention, sure. But Office 365, in particular, is a big chunk of the future of Microsoft. And that is where its revenues are now, and will be going forward. So helping Office 365 be more viable on Apple hardware actually does make sense.

What doesn’t make sense is a Touch Cover as we now understand this product: A true Type Cover for iPad (Pro) would be pretty desirable. Especially when you consider how goofy the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard is.

There is, however, one admittedly unlikely avenue that a Microsoft iPad Touch Cover might take here in 2017. What if Microsoft, beyond all reason, has in fact figured out a way to let users elegantly select items on-screen using a touchpad-like contraption in said Touch Cover? This is, after all, the remaining final issue when you consider the iPad Pro as a productivity laptop alternative.

I don’t believe they can do this, or are doing this. And I think a touchpad for iPad, or something like a touchpad, would have to come from Apple.

Still. It’s fun to speculate.

 

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