Microsoft

New details emerge about the Microsoft Courier tablet

Engadget recently released new pictures and videos of the Microsoft Courier tablet. Wally Bahny discusses if he'd buy the Courier -- if it ever comes out.

After the September 2009 release of some questionable photos and videos on Gizmodo and other sites, many tech writers wrote off the existence of a Microsoft project to re-invent the tablet PC. Now, with new pictures and video on Engadget last week, the focus is back on the Microsoft Courier.

What the Courier looks like

If the videos are to be believed, the Microsoft Courier tablet/e-book device is about an inch thick, weighs about a pound, and is slightly larger than a 5x7 photo when closed, which gives it two 8-9 inch screens. The interface is designed to be pen-based and seems to be geared for blogging and collaborating within a special site designed for this device. The usability, as demonstrated, kind of reminds me of the Microsoft Surface device; it has flicking objects around on the screen, a multi-touch interface, and gesture-based interaction, as well as the pen.

What ZDNet bloggers think

On the day that Engadget posted the new photos and video, ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley discussed what operating system this new device will run. Early reports from September suggested Windows 7, while the recent demo video seems to lean more toward the newly-combined Windows CE/Zune OS, now being called Windows Phone OS 7.0. The argument takes two sides: one is that since Windows is Microsoft's cash cow, this device will run on that OS, especially since Steve Ballmer demonstrated the new HP slate device at this year's CES; the other side says that Microsoft may want to save power, so will run it on a Tegra system, which would require Windows Phone OS 7.0.

ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker continues to question the validity and existence of this device. He believes that by stitching together several Microsoft Research projects, they could have most of this product finished. Having said all of that, Zack still believes that this device could be a sort of second-coming and may perhaps even replace laptops.

What I think

For me, this is another example of Microsoft coming just a bit too late into the game, and lately it seems to be against Apple. Apple releases the iPod family, then Microsoft releases the Zune. Apple releases the iPhone, then Microsoft combines the Zune OS with the Windows CE OS to create Windows Phone OS 7.0. Now, Apple announces the iPad, and we see credible photo and video about Microsoft Courier. It all seems a bit too much for me from Redmond. Microsoft should get back on the development bandwagon and create a new idea, not just copy someone else's ideas with their own spin.

So, if this device is real and goes to market, would I buy one? That depends. If it runs on Windows 7 and "Windows 8," there's a decent chance I would buy it. A device that will run all of my current Windows applications (including a full version of Microsoft Office), allow me to write on the screen, and still be small enough to fit comfortably in a bag has a lot of appeal. On the other hand, if Microsoft punts and puts Windows Phone OS 7.0 on it, this will be just like the iPad -- a device with a niche market that has limited functionality due to it being a super-giant smartphone. The number one item that would make a Windows Mobile tablet better than the iPad to me is the fact that it is a clamshell design, so I wouldn't have to worry about scratching or damaging the screen.

Share your thoughts about the Courier

Watch the Engadget videos below and then let us know what you think of the Courier. First, do you think the device exists? If so, do you think it will hit market Q3/Q4 of 2010 as claimed, or do you think it will take at least 2011 before we see it?

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24 comments
zclayton2
zclayton2

Mid December for Christmas or probably for a Presidents Day sale.

zclayton2
zclayton2

If you wait until December you might be able to get this for Christmas. I'm betting next Presidents Day tho. . ..

mr_dr_taylor
mr_dr_taylor

Similar to the www.ipaddownload.com domain for sale on eBay, looks like www.couriertabletdownload.com is up for sale. The owner isn?t asking for as much as the ipaddownload.com domain. Wonder what it will fetch?

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I'll put it in "Wait and see." OTOH, does it suffer from the same shortcomings as iPad, like no - USB - Interchangable Batteries - etc? The article didn't mention, and that would make a BIG difference. At first glance, of course, Windows is a BIG plus, whatever version it is. Touch-screen and pen, ho-hum. If it's as (un)reliable as the Palm TX's was, no thanks. Hope there's a peripheral interface for external keyboard. Maybe the reliability has improved. So for me, wait-and-see.

frances
frances

I like what I saw in the videos, but like a lot of other people, I want to see it work. I had a Palm Pilot, Treo, etc that had handwriting recognition and interfaced with my desktop and really loved it at the time. (even had one of those geeky belt-clip cases for one of them....) If the device will do what the videos show then I'm very interested, but of course that depends on the pricing. I think the iPad is cool too, but like another post said - it seems to be just an overgrown iPod Touch. I have one of those and don't really want one that won't fit in my pocket, and I haven't gone the e-book reader route because I prefer to hold paper when I'm reading a book of any length (oh, so old school!) Thanks for everyone's great comments - they were really informative!!!

onthego
onthego

I do salivate over the concept. However, I didn't see a BSOD. Where is the [Ctl][Alt][Del]? Other than that, V1.0 of anything M$ isn't worth paying for. Though I do like the concept, I seriously doubt M$ could deliver on it. At least not without alot of chronic annoyances using it. How about true multi-tasking? This looks suspicious of a "one-thought-at-a-time" system. Anyway, if this was released, Apple would be suing over it. Don't they claim IP over multi-touch controls?

RayG314
RayG314

The discussion seems to be which came first, the IPad or the Courier. I don't have any inside information from either Apple or Microsoft, so I don't know which started development first. The only PUBLIC bottom line is which hits the market first, and that's the iPad. My BIG problem with Microsoft is, even with the incredibly long development time, they still get so much WRONG, either technologically, security, or market-wise.

PCguy24
PCguy24

Of course your going to give microsoft crap about making a tablet. specially if its 10 times better than the Ipad. lets see the Ipad has a easy to use interface,great, and a plug and play sequence , just like all apple products. But what about personalization and thats were the courier comes in and like this other blog said you wont have to jail break it to make it your own. Im giving microsoft the win on the tablet war.

MichelliL
MichelliL

I have no desire to waste money on an iPad, but I would buy this in a heartbeat. Some features I'd really want to see though are: 1) Full Windows OS. I want to be able to run this like I do my notebook. This wouldn't "replace" my notebook, but it would come with me more often. 2) If it runs Windows then I can install Photoshop and other art programs. With stylus support I can get away from drawing on a tablet and draw direct to screen without having to buy a Cintiq. 3) Fits in my pocket. If it's around the size of a novel I can stick it in my pants pocket. That's perfect and will go everywhere with me. 4) Support Bluetooth and have cell phone capabilities built in. WiFi too, but I'd want to replace my phone with this so I only need one device in my pocket when on-the-go. Give me all of this, and I'll be like the Mac fans standing on line for hours to be the first to get their hands on a new product, and I never do that.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

was announced long before any iPad you know

DNSB
DNSB

There's a vast difference between an announcement and stories about possible future products. You do remember the seemingly endless string of stories about an Apple tablet long before the iPad was announced? I seem to remember reading them well before the "leaks" in Sept., 2009 about the Microsoft Codex(?). Until an official Microsoft spokesvermin rears up and says the Courier is shipping as of whatever date they choose to slip from, there has been no announcement, only the usual rumour mill. Perhaps I'm being a trifle cynical in believing that both Apple and Microsoft have long since mastered the art of hype but perhaps I'm just not cynical enough.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Since you haven't laid hand on one yet, what exactly do you love? The marketing campaign? This is your third 'I love iPads' post, and all include minimal comments as excuses to link to your web site. If you want us to read your thoughts, post them directly into this site. Or isn't your iPad capable of 'copy and paste'?

philip.arnold
philip.arnold

They LOVE the iPad because it's made by Apple and is shiny, so it MUST be great. Ignore the fact that the iPad is an over-grown iPod Touch... The Courier looks genuinely fantastic to use - the dual screen swipes, plus the hand writing recognition, if M$ manage to pull this off then it's going to be a brilliant piece of kit.

bboyd
bboyd

Just to add functions i want on my device, not just a license delivery platform. Maybe it won't be tied down to a single point service that considers me to be a sub human moron. Possibly I can take someones programming and run it my self without filtering it through a corporate clearing house. Seems to me like pair of touch screen netbooks back to back. I like my current Eee PC for a reader/voip machine when traveling so this may have a place when replacing that. WIll have to see what really hits the market.

jadanIT
jadanIT

i think this product will only be good if it actually has a full OS on it that allows us to surf the net, use MS office,and allow us to download content to it. otherwise this will be just another waste as the Ipad is, only worse because its obvious that MS is just copying the real innovators.

Joaquim Amado Lopes
Joaquim Amado Lopes

1. Surf the net is one of the features shown in the videos. 2. You can use MS Office in any PDA/smartphone running Windows Mobile. There is no reason to think that it would be different with Windows Phone. The only problems is the size of the display and input in PDA's/smartphones and the Courier solves them. 3. Even if the Courier uses Windows Phone, there are numerous applications for PDA/smartphones for all sorts of uses, including professional/business. A device like the Courier (regardless of the OS) will be irresistable for developers. 4. These kind of devices are not meant to be your primary computer. They complement the desktop/laptop and are designed for when ultra-portability and practicality take precedence over computing power and storage. 5. Being an innovator doesn't necessarly translate into better products. In fact, it's more likely to be the opposite as the "coppier" will benefit from the critics made to the first products. The Courier seems to be a real project although I'm not sure of its development stage. Probably, Microsoft is nowhere close to a viable product and is mearly trying to take the focus from the iPad and keep people from buying one until the Courier is ready to deploy. But the Courier and the iPad are different concepts. The iPad is designed for home users (althought some professionals may find uses for it, even with all its cons) and the Courier seems to be designed for professional/business users.

Jefangel
Jefangel

Wow, this guy thinks Apple is innovative. Apple was not the first MP3 player (and they are still behind in formats supported), so if Microsoft with the Zune was just copying apple, then apple was copying Creative, and Samsung, and etc?the first smartphone interface was Microsoft?.so the iphone copies Microsoft, and Palm?and the first touchscreen was nokia?so the iphone copies nokia, the Ipad was also not first?not by a long shot, see acer, hp, and several other companies announcing (and many showing off) pads before apple? I love the line: Apple announces the iPad, and we see credible photo and video about the courier?.forget the fact that there was photo and video of the courier LAST YEAR which was almost a year before the iPad was announced?when there was only speculation that apple would announce the product. And this new video is not any different than those videos from last year. You should also read the gizmodo article on Development budgets as percentage of Gross profit, Microsoft is the development company, Apple is the marketing company which apparently works well for them from all the people out there who still think that apple products are innovative instead of just marketed well.

rickblackmon
rickblackmon

One thing you have to say about Apple, Whatever they do right or wrong, they have developed what is probably the most loyal user base in the industry. They also have a reputation for quality products and innovation. There are those who believe the Apple iPad will be the leading factor in the demise of the portable ebook reader. In my opinion, there are a few thing that belie that premise: 1..No Flash support 2..No multitasking 3..No USB port 4..Outdoor use not a good experience (A deal breaker for me. I, too will be heading for my friendly BestBuy to give it a test run. Rick Blackmon Webmaster: http://ebookreadernow.com http://portableebookreader.org

eatredmeatfeelgood
eatredmeatfeelgood

exactly... where apple is really innovative is in marketing. in addition products like 'Courier' and 'Windows Phone Series 7' are not copies of the Apple products, as you will see they have sigificantly different interfaces from the relevant Apple products.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Thank you for also realizing what the author seems to have overlooked in that the first videos of the Courier were out before there was any speculation on the iPad.

Jefangel
Jefangel

I would buy this in a heartbeat...if it truly does what is seen in the videos, it actually would be a useful device for anyone who (like me) often use notebooks still for all of their notes within meetings...the interface looks smooth and keeps that notebook feel to it. I don't need an ipad, I have an Iphone and a Macbook pro...what I need is a device that is something different, which this appears to be...not an oversized Ipod Touch.

magnitogorsk
magnitogorsk

this is definitely on my radar for future purchase, but i cannot say if it is a definate buy without knowing more. for example: * whats the cpu * whats the storage capacity * will it have an interface for cloud storage * will it be able to run other programs besides this sketchbook (not a deal breaker, i dont really have any need to whip out a sketchbook to make an excel spreadsheet) * usb/sd card support * how fast/responsive is it really * multi-tasking speeds * screen resolution/brightness * overall durability * battery life honestly most of that wouldn't matter if it was running an android based os with 2ghz processor 2g ram, hybrid epaper/lcd screen (ala pixel qi), and a wacom stylus. what i love so far about this concept is that it is all about creation and collaboration, compared to the ipad which is all about consumption. any architecture/design firm could benefit from dolling these out to their employees to use in tandem with their desktops. the ipad will never enter the work environment. all that said, i wait with bated breath for more information, especially a release date.

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