back to article Microsoft's Courier tablet dies before it lives

Don't bother asking Microsoft whether its rumored Courier tablet will run Adobe Flash. Microsoft just killed it. Apparently. After hearing rumors that the oft-discussed-but-never-acknowledged two-display folding tablet had been axed, Gizmodo asked Microsoft for confirmation and received this reply from Redmond's communications …


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  1. Player_16
    Gates Halo

    The end.

    And now, the end is here

    And so I face the final curtain

    My friend, I'll say it clear

    I'll state my case, of which I'm certain

    I've lived a life that's full

    I traveled each and ev'ry highway(?)

    And more, much more than this,

    I did it my way


    Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew

    When I bit off more than I could chew

    But through it all, when there was doubt

    I ate it up and spit it out

    I faced it all and I stood tall

    and did it my way

  2. Goat Jam


    "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."

    "We saw how apple did the tablet idea when the ipad was released so we thought we had better copy them."

  3. Tuomo Stauffer

    What's going on

    Now, for obvious reasons, I can't say how or what but what I have seen last two (or three, four?) years MS is really not getting their acts together. A lot of good people there who I know, a lot of strange decisions by "management" which have caused literally / maybe hundreds of canceled projects and "road maps". Especially on the "mobile" side - creating new organizations, departments, buying new development locations, reorganizing on many levels - all for the show, "where is the beef"?

    Yes, MS has some of the brightest minds in this business, are they allowed to do what they do best? In my mind - no! Not that I personally care, I'm an OS X and Linux user on toy systems and z/os, nsk, unix, linux, whatever on large systems, but it's a pity because we need all the systems just for different tasks!

    1. Random_Walk


      The whole courier thing is likely just the latest in a long string of vaporware ideas floated to help distract from some competitor product.

      Notice that if Microsoft had continued the charade (IMHO that's what it pretty much was), then it would start to suck the oxygen away from OEM devices that do run Windows (HP Slate, etc). Originally, I suspect it was designed to dampen enthusiasm for any tablet product (touchscreen or not) that didn't run Windows... a sort of catch-all thing.

      So when TFA said "Perhaps - just perhaps - the Courier project was eliminated because its raison d'être had run its course", I agree - but my thinking is that its raison d'être was to distract, with maybe some bonus research that they may or may not put to use later.

  4. Dick Emery


    Apple will wipe the floor with them all. Not because it's better but purely because they got there first (I mean they pushed out something more intuitive than previous incarnaitons of tablet PC's) and because of their fanbase...I mean marketing. Oh and Jobs. Lovely Steve Jobs. ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Hands on...

      >Apple will wipe the floor with them all. Not because it's better but purely because they got there first

      Having played with an iPad for the first time today, its no great surprise MS and HP are backing off the form factor. It wouldn't surprise me that much if Apple get there alone. Certainly if iPad is the gold standard, the pretenders will be utterly poor.

      Manipulating it to do anything useful is difficult, you can't lean it at angle or use it one-handed other than for simple input, click and scrolls etc. Laying flat and leaning over is the only way to edit and that process with text documents is very slow and awkward. With keyboard onscreen you lose too much of the document to do any serious work.

      Even with a keyboard (which seems to defeat the point) its awkward without an ad hoc stand to angle the screen, then you're constantly readjusting since keyboard navigation alone is not possible - and then you're also plagued by the grease that accumulates and a less than perfect viewing angle. Most people seemed to default to keyboard on lap, iPad on table and a kind of Gatesian rocking motion or orangutan arm posture. As a laptop replacement folding stands will be order of the day, as will carrying keyboards - ideally one with a trackpad or pointing device - but ultimately the screen is too small and the current software inadequate for actual work.

      Its basically a view only device - and then one with a rather limited and annoying experience online, aside from the number of sites which don't display properly and the dodgy wifi, anything requiring input has almost the same slow, iterating-irritating experience of browsing using your phone.

      The idea that this form-factor is better or even equivalent to a netbook or laptop is very far from the truth and if its filling an untapped niche it wasn't one I or the died in the wool Mac fans I was with could see. From a UX or ergonomics perspective its actually a pretty bad idea.

      1. John 62

        dual screen

        but the Courier was to use two screens, if they were hinged like a laptop, which would allow angling at least one of the screens and using it in landscape would have given you a full screen for a keyboard and a full screen for display.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: dual screen

          >one of the screens...would have given you a full screen for a keyboard and a full screen for display.

          Doubtless there were also plans for a clip-on QWERTY keyboard you could attach to one of the touchscreens for haptic feedback and a better typing experience.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. "

    That really is the most unmitigated crap I've ever read.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    WE know that software solution providers tend to generate income via licensing and associated copyright ownership.

    Maybe some organisation purchased ownership/license of the Courier making it not easy for marketing of a Courier product?

    And perhaps HP thought why pay the big bucks for mobile device when we have an intrinsically linked hardware-operating system within our product portfolio (don't pay twice for what you already have).

    And who wants a mobile OS that really is a trimmed down desktop OS rather than an evolved from hardware OS?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nevermind, eh?

    Just buy two iPads and a big roll of sellotape. Voila.

  8. The BigYin

    "It's in our DNA"

    I hate that phrase. Utterly hate it. You get it in all sorts of PR crap from motorcycles to IT and it is just crap. It's some vacuous attempt to sound all sciency and knowledgeable and it is just total bullshit.

    It's in their BUSINESS PLAN to investigate new products/innovations and to try and MAKE MONEY.

    Why not just say that?

    PR wankers.

  9. The BigYin
    Thumb Down

    And another thing...

    ...Windows in charge of fuel pumps? That should be enough to given anyone "Teh Fear"(tm).

    I get nervous using ATMs that are clearly Windows boxes, I wonder how many trojans, backdoors and viruses it is riddled with.

    1. dogged


      quite hard to put any of those an _embedded_ OS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hard, perhaps but not impossible

        It the unit is complex enough (and if it is using embedded Windows, it will be) and if it has access point (media, network etc) then there is not reason why it cannot succumb to attack.

        Which would be why you can by security products for embedded Windows (Computer Associates, eTrust etc.)

        Of course, one just could be sensible and use a more secure OS instead.

  10. Martin 47


    because the twin screen idea seems to me to be a good one, an ebook reader that looks like a book? Half the size of others, that when folded protects the screens

    Nah, it will never catch on, just because the 'perfect' reading format has been developed over centuries doesn't mean that its a good idea does it?

  11. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    damn shame

    I know it was only ever a slideshow, but for once the Courier actually looked like a useful productivity device. I have absolutely no use for an iPad (I have plenty of other ways to passively consume media), but I could have definitely made space in my life for a Courier

  12. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Redmond ...

    start your photocopiers.

    Apple had it right a long time ago.

    Innovation + Microsoft. Don't make me larf!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    fatuous and totally inaccurate

    "It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. "

    he's havin' a larf

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical Microsoft

    Find a really good idea and don't bother to see it through.

    No doubt somewhere in the bowels of Redmond there's a team of "programmers" who are busy bolting a new desktop onto Windows2000 so it can be released as the "new, even faster, even safer Windows" next year.

  15. Less the Best

    One purpose device

    It would have been surprising to see Courier alive. It seemed too much of a one purpose device.

    Maybe we will see some kind of MS Office Courier application running on Win7 touch devices.

    I think it could work.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    That was the only tablet-like product I was vaguely interested in. Guess I'll go give my money to someone else (not Apple tho).

  17. Giles Jones Gold badge

    No software

    Microsoft simply doesn't have an OS to install on it. Apple has iPhone OS, Google has Android, Microsoft has Windows Mobile which was designed for stylus use or Windows Phone 7 which is a bit limited (I'm sure version 8 will be better) and social networking centric.

    1. dogged

      Stylus use

      I don't know if you watched any of the videos, but Courier was also supposed to be based on stylus use.

  18. That Awful Puppy

    Right, that's the iPad sorted

    I distinctly remember all the fanbois shouting at the top of their lungs as to how the Slate (and other vapourware) will spell the death of iPad, which is, of course, utter sh*te for not having all the USB ports a geek would want.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    It's funny

    Windows 7 can't be an OS for a pad device while Android which is just Java running atop Linux is a great device OS. Is it just the lable slapped over that makes things different?

  20. MDZawadi

    Fuel pump blurscreen of death

    Yes that's right, was in the middle of filling up. Then the screen went blue, DAM BSOD. do then get the fuel free as the cashier cant get the amount of fuel or have to empty the fuel out so it can be counted?

    Not the story you want to tell is it.

  21. Greg J Preece

    MeeGo is here! ...ish

    There's already a MeeGo device - the marvellous, over-the-top, brilliant smartphone I can't stop shouting about?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    HP... ha ha ha

    Anyone remember Alpha? Brilliant chip design. HP swallowed up Compaq and look what happened to it. Somehow I can't see HP not taking a bung again and letting Palm wither and die so that they can concentrate on working with their buddies at Intel and Microsoft.

    Yes I'm being very cynical : its Friday and I've to go work through the long weekend.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Courier and Slate DOA

    looks like there won't be a decent alternative to the locked down and over-priced iPad after all

    poo bum wee

    The biggest problem with running Win7 on any of the touch devices (including shiny toys like the HP tx2) is that battery life sucks and apart from 3 games none of the real apps (eg Outlook) are usuable without a mouse and a keyboard so back to "standard laptop mode" you go

  24. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Another advantage of two iPads clothtaped together bookwise:

    Multi-tasking apps! Ta da!

  25. Alistair 1


    Dont forget the

    1. Geoffrey W

      I try to

      But people keep reminding me

      Is that thing a joke? Its even more limited than the iPad. Cant even use it as a reader unless you have all your reading materials on line somewhere.

      No hot spot wherever you are? Then you're carrying round a dead lump of plastic and electrics you can only use as a tray to put your drink on. Or that's how it appears from looking at their own web site.

      Next device please.

  26. John 62

    fuel pumps

    Windows has been running successfully* on POS systems for years. Fuel pumps are now POS systems themselves since they've including credit/debit card purchasing for years.

    *I say that having only seen it in shops. I've never had to administer it or set it up.

  27. YumDogfood

    Book form factor

    Tilt to only power/display the page you are viewing (optional!)

    landscape and portrait keyboard modes for when you want to enter text

    something completely different on one page (index,browser,notes)

    fold around (if two cameras) for dual skype/video/photo

    detach for seaparate pads (portrait or landscape hinge) - maybe sell per pad and join (filesystems etc)

    Oh, for a _giant_ Nintendo DS!

  28. 46Bit
    Jobs Horns


    I've been hearing too much about Apple - read DNA as NDA!

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