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September 23, 2009

Microsoft dabbles with Courier dual screen tablet

Posted by David Hunter at 2:24 PM ET.

Microsoft Courier

The Web is abuzz over Gizmodo’s report that Microsoft is working on a dual screen tablet PC called the Courier:

Courier is a real device, and we’ve heard that it’s in the "late prototype" stage of development. It’s not a tablet, it’s a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They’re connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft’s brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who’s spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies.

I would be more excited if Microsoft didn’t have a long history of dabbling in PC hardware prototypes, all the better to spur on their OEM partners. It would be very surprising if Microsoft did more than show the Courier off as a "concept" PC at various trade shows and run it around to all their partners hoping to get a bite.

Moreover, pen computing has been around since the early 90′s and has never taken off because it has never been particularly usable. Putting two small displays in a binder is less interesting than some pen software that is really convenient and natural to use. That would truly be buzzworthy. As for touch sensitive screens, maybe the Courier would be a neat two person game machine.

Filed under Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, PC Prototypes

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One Response to “Microsoft dabbles with Courier dual screen tablet”

  1. Mark Sigal Says:

    While this is a really cool looking prototype, the real question is when will the actual product ship and what’s the OS and tools side of the equation, as Apple has pretty much shown this to be the bar for success.

    Clearly, Apple learned this lesson from Microsoft (in PC 1.0) but MS feels long removed from those days (i.e., cultivating and growing a software centered ecosystem), especially in light of all of the legacy that they have to support.

    Btw, here are some thoughts on where Apple’s Tablet and the e-Book is headed:

    Rebooting the Book (One Apple iPad Tablet at a Time):

    Check it out if interested.


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