Microsoft’s concept design for a tablet, the Courier, is dead. As of April 29, 2010, less than a month after the iPad’s launch, the official word is: “At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated. … The “Courier” project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.”
The Tablet That Never Was
The Microsoft Courier was a tablet in booklet form factor, with two screens facing each other. The two screens accepted both multi-touch and pen input. The interface was journal-like and example usage cases focused on creative work. One of the coolest things about the Courier was the use of the hinge as a clipboard by which the user could pass information between the screens.
Various other details shifted through a series of leaks. The OS was either Windows 7 or a custom-rolled version of Windows CE. Expectations of its size varied. Generally, the leaked details tended to become more iPad-like as time went on.
See the images and videos for yourself:
First leak Sep 22, 2009
Courier User Interface In Depth Nov 4, 2009
Digital Journal leak Mar 5, 2010
The death of the Courier was predicted before the iPad’s launch. Due to inheriting the vast iPhone app and developer ecosystem, the possibility of awesome notetaking iPad apps already existed prior to its release. Anticipation of the Courier’s death at the hands of the iPad mounted. It is is a very reasonable guess that Microsoft thought it simply was not worthwhile to try to take on the iPad’s momentum- at least as of yet.
Or Are Reports of the Courier’s Death Exaggerated?
It is, of course, possible that Microsoft having no plans to build such a device at this time means that another company has plans to do precisely that. Will there be a Courier OS licensed by Microsoft to all and sundry, much as it licenses Windows? Or will there be a strict set of requirements devices running this OS must conform to, like Windows Phone 7? Time will tell. I do hope that the innovations shown in the Courier will resurface not too far off in the future.
Microsoft Cancels Innovative Courier Tablet Project
Courier: First Details of Microsoft’s Secret Tablet
Microsoft’s Courier Is Already Doomed: A Simple iPad App Shows Why
Microsoft’s Courier ‘digital journal’: exclusive pictures and details (update: video!)
Courier User Interface In Depth