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Microsoft’s Surface tablet started off life as this doodle in a sketchbook

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The days before Surface Pen

Microsoft’s Ralf Groene held a fascinating session on stage at the company’s Ignite conference this week. Groene is responsible for the design of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, and he offered some unique insights into the early days of Surface. While The Verge previously visited Microsoft’s Surface team back in 2013 to see early prototypes, Groene revealed this week that the tablet started off life in a sketchbook.

"This is the earliest sketch I could find in my sketchbook about Surface," said Groene, showing off a really early look at the ideas and concepts around Surface. It’s a set of basic doodles of how the kickstand was integral to the design of the original Surface, and a key part of Microsoft’s tablet even with the release of the Surface 3 this week. Microsoft has since made the Surface Pen an important part of its tablet, and the company even acquired technology from N-trig recently to underline that.

Surface Pro 4 will support existing accessories

While Groene discussed the past, he refused to answer questions about the future. Microsoft only just released the Surface 3 this week, but the more powerful Surface Pro 3 model is nearly a year old. Microsoft previously promised that accessories like the power adapter or Type Covers won’t change for the Surface Pro 4. Even the existing docking station will support a future Surface Pro 4.

Theoretically that could mean the Surface Pro 4, or whatever it’s named, will have the same dimensions as the existing Surface Pro 3 model so it can fit into the dock. However, there’s nothing stopping Microsoft from making the tablet thinner, and providing inserts for the docking station. We’ll likely find out more about the Surface Pro 4 in the coming months as Microsoft prepares to launch Windows 10.