Mobile

Microsoft's Courier tablet project is dead

Microsoft’s dual-screened Courier tablet was one of the more intriguing ideas to come from the company in the past decade, but now it seems the device will never see the light of day. Sources close to the project told Gizmodo that Microsoft executives nixed it on Wednesday.

Courier wasn’t a single-screened slate tablet like the Apple iPad, or Fusion Garage’s Joojoo — and that’s what made it so compelling. Microsoft was positioning the device as a digital journal that featured a pen-based and multitouch interface, and it would have also made a compelling e-reader product as well — a market the company has yet to dive into.

Gizmodo broke the news on Courier last fall, when it got hold of concept pictures and video of the device and its impressive-looking interface. Prior to this news, Microsoft never officially admitted to the project’s existence — but Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw finally gave it legitimacy when he told Gizmodo that Courier wasn’t going into production:

At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It’s in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.

Shaw reiterated the statement on Microsoft’s company blog, where he went on to say how excited he was about the products the company is actually releasing this year.

As his brief statement says, technology from the Courier project could be used in future products, but I don’t think there’s much of a chance we’ll see the innovative dual-screen setup in any of those. Most likely, Courier technology will be integrated into Windows 7-equipped tablets, but that seems far less innovative without the availability of two screens.

What makes me most sad about this announcement is just how different Courier was from all other tablet concepts we’ve seen so far, and now we won’t be seeing it at all. Instead, the tablet market will be dominated by slate tablets that will all look very similar. Maybe it was just too difficult for Microsoft to turn the concept into a reality, or maybe the company thought that Courier seemed weak compared to the iPad and other tablets that featured bigger screens.

Whatever the reason, the fact that Courier is now dead gives me little hope that Microsoft will try anything too unique with future tablet and e-book readers. Most likely a future Microsoft tablet will look similar to the iPad, come out several years too late, and nobody will take it seriously.

[Image via Engadget]

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  1. [...] The latest tidbits on the Courier debacle come from CNet’s Jay Greene, who interviewed 18 current and former Microsoft execs, along with others working on the project, to give us our most complete look at why the innovative project was killed off. [...]

  2. [...] The latest tidbits on the Courier debacle come from CNet’s Jay Greene, who interviewed 18 current and former Microsoft execs, along with others working on the project, to give us our most complete look at why the innovative project was killed off. [...]

  3. [...] The latest tidbits on the Courier debacle come from CNet’s Jay Greene, who interviewed 18 current and former Microsoft execs, along with others working on the project, to give us our most complete look at why the innovative project was killed off. [...]