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Friday, May 15, 2015

Microsoft snaps up the technology behind the Surface Pro 3's pen

In love with the Surface pen? You're not the only one. Microsoft
confirmed on its Surface blog this morning that it acquired the
pen-sensing technology that helps power the Surface Pro 3 from the
company that created it, Israeli tech outfit N-trig. If you're the type
who pays attention to Israeli business newspapers, this whole thing
might not come as a shock - Calcalist reported earlier this year that Microsoft was eyeing N-trig for a full-on acquisition
that would see the company's 190 employees folded into the Microsoft
mothership at some point. That's not the case anymore, though: We've
been able to confirm the folks in Redmond just bought the technology,
and not the whole company.

So, aside from a little M&A
intrigue to spice up your Friday morning, what does this mean for you?
Well, the Surface Pen is one of those bits of the Surface experience
that seems totally extraneous at first, and then more-or-less lovely
after you've gotten to play with it. It's far from perfect -- N-trig's
pen ditched its predecessor's ability to erase stuff by flipping the
thing around -- but the purchase signals Microsoft's commitment to
making pen input something that could feasibly replace the traditional
thumb-punching and finger-poking touchscreens have attuned us too. It
shouldn't be long before we see some of N-trig's tech in action, either
Windows 10's launch is just over the horizon at this point and we
already know that some new Windows smartphones will play nice with pen
inputs thanks to a feature called DirectInk.
That we'll be able to write on a broad swath of new devices soon was
never a question, though there is one loose end we haven't been able to
tie up: What's going to happen to the rest of N-trig?

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