Microsoft Cancels Innovative Courier Tablet Project

According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft has cancelled Courier, the folding, two-screen prototype tablet that was first uncovered by Gizmodo.

We're told that on Wednesday, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer Microsoft execs informed the internal team that had been working on the tablet device that the project would no longer be supported. Courier had never been officially announced or acknowledged as a Microsoft product.

It appeared from the leaked information last year that a Courier prototype was probably near to completion. The combination of both touch- and pen-based computing was compelling. Perhaps the strong launch of Apple's iPad, currently the only available "mobile tablet" from a major vendor, caused Ballmer to reassess the commitment of Microsoft in a soon-to-be-crowded market.

We contacted Microsoft, who confirmed that Courier will not go into production. Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw told us:

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.

It is a pity. Courier was one of the most innovative concepts out of Redmond in quite some time. But what we loved about Courier was the interface and the thinking behind it - not necessarily its custom operating system.

In fact, it makes sense for Microsoft to continue to trim away splinter versions of its core operating systems and focus on Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 unity across all its devices. Hopefully some of the smart thinking we have seen in Courier will find its way into Microsoft's tablets, whether they're powered by Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7.

If we hear anything more, we'll let you know.


Comments

    [vader]NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!![/vader]

    Microsoft's business plan is to copy others so it's no surprise. They should have waited for the iPad before attempting to do something.

      Er.. the ipad is out already in the usa...

    I am saddenned by this news. This was one of those exciting concepts that looked like it could be something wonderful. Maybe Microsoft will have something else up their sleeves for the tablet market? How about Joe Belfiore and tablet? What an fantastic match...

    I was looking forward to something like this.
    I have stunning visions of hitchhikers guide.

    i have been using tablets for about 3 years and i live them. i thought this could have been the best use of MS onenote yet.

    shock horror. typical microsoft, innovate a new concept, let a third party or a fruit make the device worth millions... then play catchup again 2 years after a device release NOT made by microsoft. go team bad management!

    DAMN IT!

    I love my apple products, but this was going to be kick-ass!

    *sigh*

    This is a real shame.

    While I understand they've probably got other things they want to focus their time and effort on (windows phone 7, kin I suppose...) this has so much potential it's just irritating to see it disappear.

    Both as a student and in the work I do, being able to keep digital notes is extremely desirable (as is being able to annotate other peoples work). As much as I think the ipad is going to be a pretty huge seller for apple, it's just not good enough in this area and the Courier looked set to be absolutely amazing for this.

    I can understand too, though, that this variety of usage scenario is a little niche and maybe just not a big enough seller for someone like MS to really bother with. The ipad will do just fine without handwriting recognition or any proper file system, likewise its limited interactivity with other devices probably won't be much of a hinderance for it (though I can see people getting a little frustrated at how tied to itunes it is).

    Here's hoping some sort of tablet manufactured by HP with web OS turns up soon with beautiful implementation and everything i'm looking for ;)

    Honestly was waiting for this sexy beast, now that it has been cancelled.... sorry Microsoft, my money will be going the ipads way.

    It is regrettable, it really did look like a good idea. I guess with the "Windows 7 series phones", it was more important to look towards a single mobile interface, besides, Microsoft is a software company, they very rarely do hardware.

    Perhaps we will get lucky and see a windows 7 tablet that looks like the courier in the future.

    RIP

    What a real pity. I really thought MS had 'the bomb' concept here and last time I checked it was almost a reality, that would have redefined portable computing far more then the ipad could ever, ever hope. It was new, exciting, and in my mind, one of the best concepts to ever come out of Redmond, and was a showcase of what Microsoft are really capable of. Sad panda indeed.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

    Hopefully we see some of the ideas in future offerings. Was hard to see exactly where it sat though as a product in its own right...

    BWAHAHAHA. I knew it was vapourware!!!!

    Damn, I was actually excited about that project and would have bought one just on what I had seen so far.

    I can't understand why they would cancel such a great idea, especially since it seems so far advanced.

    Aw crap! Now I am going to have to tape two ipads together....but seriously this would have been a great product for all the MS fan-boys and Apple haters out there.
    I would like to buy an Ipad but Apple users are so damn smug and this would have been a great in-your-face response.(Apple fan boys begin smug ranting in 3...2...1...)

    Crap

    Well, I hope the iPad v2 is good. The Courier concept would have suited business applications. The iPad v1 does not.

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