Microsoft at work designing "cool" future Surface devices

Microsoft has hired a model-maker to build prototypes

Despite shaky sales of its Windows 8 Surface tablets Microsoft is working on the next generation of the devices that it hopes will attract customer attention.

The company is advertising for a model maker/prototyper to join the Surface team as it works on new devices that will follow on the current ones, Surface RT and Surface Pro. "We are currently building the next generation and Surface needs you!" the ad reads in part.

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The job calls for turning CAD data and graphic depictions of these devices into physical objects.

The posting comes as Microsoft has revised the specs for tablets that would make it possible for 7-inch tablets to be Microsoft certified for Windows 8. This involved lowering the resolution requirements for displays, which makes it possible for smaller-screened devices to win certification.

Sales of the devices have paled compared to other tablets, particularly the iPad. Since its release last fall, about 1.5 million Surface RTs have been sold and 400,000 Surface Pros over the month since it's been available, according to estimates by Microsoft watchers. Microsoft itself isn't giving out solid numbers.

That has led some to speculate that Surface might have been an example to demonstrate the possibilities of Windows 8, but that would be short lived as a product line.

Here's the text of the Microsoft job ad:

"Are you passionate about building cool devices and technologies? The Surface Team focuses on building devices that fully express the Windows vision. A fundamental part of our strategy is having desirable and powerful devices that enable the experiences people want, and elicit their excitement. Creating these devices involves a close partnership between hardware and software engineers, designers, and manufacturing.

"The Model Shop Team is looking for a highly skilled and creative person to fill this role.

"Required Skills and Knowledge:

We are looking for a candidate who is an accomplished and well-rounded Model Maker in all the different disciplines of model making, from traditional model making to CNC to Rapid Prototyping.

"Candidate must have an excellent interpersonal skill as you will be working and collaborating with our existing team of Model Makers.

"You must be able to use dependencies including CAD data, artwork graphics in order to deliver high quality models and prototypes.

"Person may take on projects from end to end, utilizing internal and/or external resources to ensure quality deliverable. Person must be a creative problem solver and have the ability to make resolute decisions.

• 5 years model making experience

• Machining skills using vertical mills, lathes and other machine tool equipment.

• Soft Tool casting

• Finishing including painting and coatings

• Excellent motor skills for precise hand finishing of models and a keen eye for quality

• Minimum of BA in ID or Model Making, or an equivalent in experience

• Working knowledge of CAM programming and CNC machining

• Working knowledge of CAD, including Pro/E or Solid Works

Desired Skills:

• Knowledge of rapid prototyping technology including Objet 3D Printers.

• CAM programming using WorkNC."

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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