back to article Bill Gates strangled Microsoft's 'tablet for creatives'

New details have emerged about who, why, and how Microsoft killed off its Courier dual-display tablet 18 months ago. The simple answers: Bill Gates, Windows, and abruptly. In a fascinating 3,000-word tale of woe and intrigue, Cnet's Jay Greene details the life and death of the Courier, and the internecine Microsoftian warfare …


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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    >Gates reportedly asked Allard how Courier users would receive email on the device

    See, much as I dislike him, this is why he got rich. He understands the real world, not some sort of fantasy like the RIM people have.

    I still don't like his company, but he goes up in my estimation again.

    1. Gordon 10

      He was right - somewhat

      But surely a courier with a set of apps capable of interoperating with standard windows apps would have had far more chance of competing in the tablet market than a 2 1/2 year late windows 8 tablet will.

    2. hplasm


      "He understands the real world, not some sort of fantasy like the RIM people have."

      And tries to change it to match the view throughHisWindows...worked for a while-not for much longer,thank FSM.

    3. Ron Christian

      email is easy to fix

      The problem is, Windows on tablets sucks and always has. It's an old problem -- a KVM-centric interface trying to work on a touch screen. Apple solved this by designing a different interface on top of their existing kernel. The Courier was a step in that direction, but protectionism prevented them from following through. Again.

      A tablet running Windows isn't really a tablet. It's a laptop with a touch screen that has temporarily had it's keyboard and mouse disconnected. With Windows 7, Microsoft rebranded their accessibility suite as "tablet edition", and it works about as well as you'd expect. It looks like Windows 8 is rebranding Media Center as Metro. And that will work about as well as you'd expect. For real work, you're still going to need a keyboard and a mouse. And that's not a tablet. They'll see an initial spike as all-Microsoft environments try to make them work, but they'll end up with a tiny percentage of the marketplace, just like the other times they tried to come out with a tablet.

      The only thing that might have worked was a different approach. But as we've seen, different approaches are not tolerated.

      1. MGJ

        I was in a meeting with MS yesterday, and one of their staff was taking notes and using OneNote with Windows 8 Alpha. From the demo, it works perfectly. Battery life, weight and cost have stuff to work on for consumers, but for corporates, they are getting close.

        They were also victims of the tsunami; lots of niche launches got put back when certain components had shortagges.

    4. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Yes and no. He understands the current clunky boring things business users want, but you could hardly call Microsoft software fun to use.

      Courier would have been radical, ahead of the game and desirable simply because it was more original and a new beginning. It is this idea that everything from Microsoft needs to be a small step forward to avoid breaking backward compatibility that has crippled them for years now.

      1. Dan 10
        Thumb Up

        Big firm falls into big firm trap...

        How many times have we seen a company grow to such a size that their politics/people/business model prevents them from innovating? Courier was the opportunity to be brave and make MS relevant again.* Instead, like some latter-day Sun, they labour away behind those rose-tinted specs...

        Although to be fair, not having email would have been an issue for an ipad competitor. I do see Bill's point, but don't think outright nuking the project was appropriate.

        * Yes yes, I know SQL Server, Office, Windows etc are still very popular, but there's relatively little innovation going on.

    5. A. Lewis


      Good point.

      But I think there are two sides. This approach may have got Microsoft in their current position, with their current piles of cash. But surely it behooves companies like MS to use that cash to innovate in order to stay competitive and relevant?

      Then again I'm rubbish at business, so maybe if it was me, I'd have run MS into the ground with my reckless projects. :)

  2. Leo Maxwell
    Paris Hilton

    Once acain the dinosaur turns in its sleep

    Not surprising really, given previous decisions.

    Zune, MSN, etc.

    The behemoth that MS has become does not turn easily.

  3. petur


    So they can spend tons of effort on a project, and when it is almost done, have a meeting to see what they want and if this project fits? Sounds like the right management technique. Not.

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      Right. And who was running the company? The Balrog.

    2. aThingOrTwo

      I think it is more common than you think...

      Apple apperantly did the same when working on the iPhone.

      It's common to pit teams against each other internally.

  4. John McCallum

    Typical of most large Corps slow to react and always late.

  5. aurizon

    Gates was no visionary

    He was a one trick cowboy on a monopoly ride that continues to this day. He lacked vision completely. That said, he presided over a long running and profitable monopoly. What else has he done? Killed off competing browsers via his monopoly power, not by being better. Killed off word perfect the same way.

    It is no wonder he was so blind he was unable to see the huge potential in the Courier. I do not feel it is too late at all, it can still get traction.


    1. Neil Greatorex


      Read your "ICT" history on wikipedia then?

      Billy was definitely unwashed, whiney, "evangelistic" & shrill (at least he was in '85) but he had a "vision", which sort of makes him a "visionary".

      We may not like that "vision", nor where it took him/Microsoft, but you can't airbrush him out.

      PS: Still use WP5.1

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Bill Gates is a lawyer at heart. His 'vision' was that licensing, copyright and trade protection law could be used in the software industry to control trading partners and the competition alike.

        Microsoft 'invented' nothing else.

    2. Thomas 18

      At least he wasn't a patent troll

      as seems to be the trend nowadays.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, but MS doesn't seem to be doing too bad on in the old coffers dept with their rather weighty IP portfolio!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How old are you?

      "What else has he done? Killed off competing browsers via his monopoly power, not by being better."

      Spoken like a true person that never used the total utter bag of shite that was Netscape Navigator and err, remind me of the other real rivals?

      1. Magnus_Pym


        Nescape made the classic mistake of playing the wrong game.

        They thought the game was 'lets all run as fast as we can' where as Microsoft were playing 'break their fucking arms and legs off'.

        They killed themselves in the end by trying too hard.

  6. Johan Bastiaansen

    So no email . . .

    And this would have taken them how long to fix?

    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      But also...

      ...that's the kind of question sane management asks at the concept stage.

      The fact that Ballmer didn't, and no one under him did, and he then had to wheel Gates in to be Terminator-bot when the project was ->this<- close to being finished - all of these things underline that Ballmer is the Ronald McDonald of technology CEO-ship.

      Still - MS lost an opportunity to bring something new to market, and that can only bring them closer to Chapter 11.

      It seems with HP spinning its wheels, MS stuck in a bog, Google amputating its R&D teams, and Apple without its divinely inspired former CEO, tech has become less interesting of late.

      Someone needs to peel off the top layer so some new talent can come through and shake up the game again.

      (And no, that doesn't mean Facebook 2.0. In fact it doesn't mean *anything* 2.0.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "(And no, that doesn't mean Facebook 2.0. In fact it doesn't mean *anything* 2.0.)"

        Well it shouldn't - aren't we up to 3.0 now? :D

  7. Chad H.

    Courier's cancellation highlights exactly what Microsoft is doing wrong.

    They refuse to learn the lesson that they should be learning from the X-Box. Instead of taking the lesson that different devices need different approaches they're married to this idea that every PC Phone and Tablet can have this unified system and interface... And its simply not the case. It didn't work trying to make WinPhone like a PC and it won't work trying to make a PC a tablet - Metro is Fugly and clunky in a mouse environment.

    The Courier could have been a contender - as an iPad Owner I think the courier could have been superior. There's no reason why an email client couldn't have been included (She seems to send an email okay in the video).

    They just simply don't get it. MS spend too much time listening to the marketing folk.

    1. Charles King

      "they're married to this idea that every PC Phone and Tablet can have this unified system and interface"

      So ... very similar to what Apple is trying to do? Or have you failed to notice how Lion is designed to make Macs work like the iPad?

      I liked the Courier promo video as well, but without a communications (email, IM, twitter, etc) strategy in place it would have been a disaster.

      1. Chad H.

        Err no

        Whilst some elements of the iPad have crossed over the Mac remains a very distinct user experience to iDevices. This is completely different to metro being forced to fit in a hole where it doesn't belong.

  8. Don Mitchell


    I'm still waiting to hear why MS killed their E-Book project in the late 1990s. They had something like a kindle, invented ClearType as part of that project, but then just dumped the project.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Don Mitchell

      They didn't invent Cleartype, they stole it from someone else.

  9. cloudgazer

    This is why MS hasn't innovated significantly in decades - they're more worried about preserving existing monopolies than blazing new trails.

    1. Peter 48

      not quite

      I think the Kinect and Surface teams would disagree with that sentiment

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @peter 48

        Kinect was kind of born out of nessesity as Nintendo were practically wiping the floor with the competion for a good while. Has it set the industy alight and appealled to the masses as the Wii and it's controller did..? er.. no.

        And as for the Surface, I honestly think yours is the first mention I have seen of it in over a year let alone actually seeing one in use anywhere..

        Anon purely because the icon is the best one. Not relevent, just the best one on El Reg full stop.

        It'sa Mea... Mario

        1. Peter 48

          missing the point

          The reasons for innovation are irrelevant, the fact is MS have stepped outside of their core product to bring something highly innovative and risky. Surface isn't a commercial success but kinect has been incredibly successful.

      2. Magnus_Pym

        Didn't Microsoft buy Kinnect technology from PrimeSense?

  10. Adam Trickett

    Monopolies don't innovate

    If you are sitting on a monopoly you don't do anything innovative or disruptive, or your whole empire comes crashing in on you, as your new innovation has just levelled the playing field.

    You slowly add features as required to fend off competition and protector your monopoly. It's not in Microsoft's interest to promote any kind of computing device that isn't basically a fat client PC running Windows and fat windows binaries connected to a Windows server. All this web stuff and mobile device stuff isn't very good for them...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Which is why patents, aka. monopoly armor, should be flushed down the toilet along with all the "Intellectual Property" lawyers.

      That's something OWS could actually be for. Instead of clamoring for someone, anyone to pay their phone bills.

    2. Richard Wharram

      Like Intel. They keep adding new features to tired old x86 and ramp up the speed when competition from AMD forces them to. When the competition isn't that hot though they try to hoist shite onto the consumer for profit (RDRAM).

      Nothing innovative though.

      1. Displacement Activity


        They practically created the home/business/microcomputer revolution in the 70's and early 80's by inventing DRAM. I was building computers then (~82) and my recollection is that it was the 2112 (?) that kick-started everything. The processors weren't a big deal - memory was. As far as I'm concerned, Intel have always been innovative. It was Microsoft that forced them down the x86 route.

        1. david 63

          Motorola should have won...

          ...their 65-- instruction set was much cleaner than the intel 80--

        2. Richard Wharram

          70s and 80s being the key words there...

          Think what crap Intel came up with in the late nineties and early naughties. RDRAM which performed worse than DDR mandated on customers because Intel had struck a deal with Rambus. The Netburst architecture which put GHz before actual performance, presumably to aid marketing. Itanium, which is just shit.

          Utter crap basically but they successfully defended their monopoly so made billions. Fair play to them as a business. Bah humbug as a consumer.

          1. Displacement Activity


            I can't believe (a) that anyone thinks that Intel isn't innovative, and (b) thinks that enough to downvote me. 22nm? 14nm next year? 3D? Yes, there's been lots of crap on the way - Netburst, for example - but all the silicon companies have produced crap, and many of them have produced much worse crap. It's completely irrelevant that some have been arguably "more innovative". Yes, AMD occasionally produces better x86's than Intel, on less resources, by being more innovative, or just smarter. I started by building bit-slice computers based on AMD, and they shafted me years later with one of their stupid new-chip-every-month-"Liberty chips" that didn't work. Every engineer has been shafted by some crap chip from some supposedly innovative company.

            If you actually bothered to read my post I was pointing out that Microsoft and Intel were very different. Intel is innovative, Microsoft is not, in any real sense. If Microsoft hadn't adopted x86, Intel would have moved on, dropped it, and produced something much better. They made the best of a bad job and did something that we all thought was next to impossible, which was to produce a world-class processor out of a dog of an architecture. Good luck to them. And, when you've spent 30 years in real hardware design, come back and downvote me.

    3. TheOtherHobbbes

      Er, why?

      Courier would hardly have killed Windows. It likely would never have been more than a niche product. At worst there would have been some UI crossover back to Windows.

      But enterprise types were never going to say 'Oh no let's not upgrade Office because that Courier thingy is a long-haired hippy toy, and that means MS aren't serious any more.'

      Besides, it was never going to take on the iPad, because the point of the iPad isn't that it's a tablet, but that it's a portable UI for the App Store, for iTunes, for Newsstand, and for sales of carrier minutes.

      The hardware is just the physical bit.

  11. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I would have bought one of these. I can't quite think of what I'd use it for, but I would have definitely bought one because it is *exactly* the sort of device I have been craving ever since I realised what a computer was. But no, Gates had to take it away before I could spend my money on it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't fret

      Console yourself that it would have either weighed too much to be comfortable in your hand or else would have had a 30 minute battery life (or a combination of both).

      I love the concept too: It's Penny's notebook out of Inspector Gadget. And I would have something like it in a heartbeat, but the display technology is just not up to scratch yet. (And you would certainly want something like that to work outdoors too.)

  12. Steve Brooks

    wrong end of the stick!

    "'So no email ...And this would have taken them how long to fix?" No No No No No and No. The problem was never about NO EMAIL, the device already had email, the problem was it would have had email WITHOUT Outlook! It was an MS device that couldn't run Office, a definite nono. So when he asked about email he was actually asking whether it could run Outlook, because in MS speak its one and the same. The other tablet, being windows based, could of course run Outlook, so it won.

  13. Wombling_Free

    As a 'creative' myself....

    ... I thought the Courier concept looked fantastic.

    When I first saw the promo clip I thought "YES! Someone has actually worked out how visual design is done!" as a tool the courier looked perfect for the kind of 7 different ideas before breakfast kind of wok we do.

    It was also heartening to see someone other than Apple getting it right.

    What kind of creative, by the way? Architect - a REAL one.

    Now, I have an iPad 2. I wish I had what the Courier might have become. You hear that Bill? You lost a sale there! You probably lost a LOT....

    Oh, and the person who said 'they killed off WordPerfect' - c'mon, that was a mercy killing!

  14. Mikel
    Thumb Up

    It's for the best

    I think it's best of all of us if Microsoft continues to hide their head in the sand for a few more years. As long as they're off in the corner playing with their Windows and Office they're not getting in the way. Cool stuff like Transformer Prime and iPad and Google TV and Apple TV will keep coming out, getting better, and getting all the developers, developers, developers, developers!

    Windows 8 should be out in 2012, or 2013, or 2015 at the latest unless they have to refactor more than twice like they did with Vista and Windows Phone. On launch day it will have hundreds of apps, be buggy as hell, lack critical features and only work on platforms that were cool 2 years prior. By then we may not even remember why we used to care.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blazing new trails

    Implies something new, starting from scratch, which levels the playing field, which is what you don't want as a monopoly. However, as MS can see, if you don't do it, someone else will.

    I like Google's approach better. Do everything, even if you're rubbish at it. Something might work and its quite a lot of fun too.

  16. Frobozz of Rassilon

    The parts that make no sense...

    1) Why can't Microsoft back two possible "tablet" designs? IMO, both approaches are excellent for different reasons... both have a market.

    2) Bill was right... email, Office and other MS properties *should* have had some tie-ins with the Courier.

    The part that doesn't make sense is that having Office represented was even in question in the first place! If Courier was built on Windows, there's no reason not to.. just do it right and Courier-like.

    Otherwise I, and other long time Windows touch/ink users, would have set them alite with "WTF no Courier ink integration with OneNote?! And I can't scrawl out a rough Powerpoint, dragging images from a browser on the other screen? Really?!" public rants.

    Don't cancel the Courier because the stock Office apps don't scale well to those screens... build better client experiences for those apps, and leverage Office 365 of course. It would be awesome.

    For those that have played with Win8 preview on multiple screens, you could imagine how nicely Metro live tiles and apps would work on one screen while another app runs on the other.

    Here's hoping the Courier eventually sees the light... all that great development, almost there. I know *so many people* who wanted one.


    On a related topic... if I hear one more retard go on about how windows sucks for touch, etc...

    I'd urge them to A) stick it, you know not whereof you speak and B) actually try a modern one out!

    Not a cheap shitbox, mind you, but a powerful multitouch/ink device, that someone has actually taken a few minutes to optimize for touch! So much is possible just by tweaking Explorer, before talking about any of the excellent 3rd party interface helpers.

    (no, I don't know why shitbox OEMs don't do it for you either, it's a travesty).

    The experience way better than is commonly believed... which is shame, because the common belief comes from people who have only played with an un-optimized mal-performing shitbox once for 30 seconds in a Fry's and then tell everyone they know how excruciating it was.

    This is most certainly exacerbated by iFans going in with a closed mind in the first place, and then spreading their venomous review with unparalleled vigor (as evidenced by other comments above). Even worse are those that never tried it themselves, but believe and repeat the opinion with the same vigor anyway.

    iOS wouldn't be any fun on a shitbox either, would it?

    - Frobozz


    I guess you have to kind of appreciate Windows/MS, its apps and its general place in your routine to get what I'm saying here. Appreciate does not necessarily mean love or hate - just knowing you only want to carry one non-phone device, you need Windows and you want it on a better type of device than a notebook/netbook or even a slate..

  17. Mallorn

    Old saying

    MS should really have remembered the old saying "don't shoot the messenger" before they killed the courier.

  18. jim 45

    remember Gates in front of Congress...

    ...pontificating about the furious pace of innovation at Microsoft?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual Display Patent !

    Are MS trying to pull everyones trousers down and have a good laugh ? What about the NDS, it's quite obvious to me that was the first mass market dual display device. Plenty of prior art to knock that pathetic patent on it's ass.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Prior Art

      My "Donkey Kong" Game & Watch was also multi-screen; provided the format inspiration for the DS, in fact. And that, according to the moulding stamp on the back, was developed in 1982.

      That prior enough for ya? ;)

      1. John70

        Game & Watch

        I still got my Donkey Kong Game & Watch. Must replace the batteries on it...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    to me, it's inconceivable that the Courier was binned because its chief designer had overlooked email. That's a big mistake but one that could be easily rectified. So, it was binned because it did not fit in the Windows world view. That's turned out to be a hugely significant error because the Windows world view is now scrambling to realign itself to the new (Apple) world order - touch screens, tiles la-la-la.

    The Microsoft obsession with Windows everywhere is the root cause here - when it was all there was (as far as Joe Public is concerned) that worked well for Microsoft's profits; not any more thanks to the superior marketing skills of Mr Jobs.

    No-one (and I mean no-one) has second sight or the ability to predict the future - those that seem to just have enough good ideas and enough clout to make them happen so that they end up becoming the future. However, all this does give the lie to the "Gates as tech visionary" myth.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good riddance--Courier was garbage

    It's pure demo-ware. Flick here, swipe there, pinch that, it magically does what you want. Yeah right. How do you know where to flick, swipe, pinch, etc.? There are no affordances to indicate what the device can do or how to do it. Am I just supposed to divine that swiping down somewhere (where?) with 4 fingers brings up my "journal"? How is it better than tapping on the jellybean icon of my journal app on my iPad? Answer: it isn't.

    It is amazing to me that so many technically-minded people are so enamored with this Courier video when, if you have ANY experience with UI design (or just common sense) you can immediately recognize that it's complete garbage.

    1. jubtastic1
      Thumb Up

      Can't believe how few people notice that gadgets in MS concept videos are imbued with mind reading abilities, between a fantasy UI and reports about the hardware being prototyped in pieces, it's pretty clear that W8 was easily going to beat this concept to production.

      There's also a lot of people here saying "how hard would it have been to put email on it", way to miss the point, if these stories are to be believed, it had already been in development for 5 years, when BG asks how it does email and they guy replies that it doesn't yet, Bill isn't going to be thinking "well that's not hard to add", he's thinking "these guys don't have a fucking clue".

    2. Dave 126

      useful tool!

      I don't think it was the UI that had people enamoured of the Courier - it was the form factor- it would fit in your pocket!

      Having your screen split up is the norm for everything except viewing photos and videos. Look at most productivity applications- there is the workspace, and then there are the tool bars and menus. Or as often as not, there are two applications open side by side. Meaning: We don't care about the black bar in the middle.

      A pocketable device for taking down sketches and notes, and a bit of 2D CAD would be useful in many a field. On site you could sketch the rough layout of the room and then add the dimensions as you measure them, leaving you with a DWF that you can edit then-and-there or use as the basis for designs later on. Or in the workshop. Or a device with a stripped-down Photoshop, pen driven. Architects, interior designers, product engineers, photographers - or any of the magic-marker-pen-fairy, traditionally Mac-using 'creatives' would find it a useful tool, and not just a device for watching movies on the train.

      Curious that no-one's mentioned the Sony talet with the split screen. Nintendo-Game-and-Watch, I miss you!

  22. James Pickett

    Ballmer getting it wrong again isn't really news. I just feel sorry for the furniture.

  23. Parax

    IT wasn't the email...

    It was how it would integrate with outlook & exchange. The courier could send email and it would easily have been able to receive email, but it was not properly integrated into the 'cash cows' What BG or whoever forgot was that cash cows grow old and die, you need new cows to be birthed every now and again.. the courier was aborted, and I suspect its not the first time that a good device (with high potential) has been slain for the sake of propping up and old a withering cow.

    MS truly is a dinosaur, its blinkered to the existing way, It has no potential. Its clear that no product that could replace the current cow could ever come to fruition because it would put the current cow at risk and this is strictly verboten.

    Business stifles Innovation.

  24. Dan 55 Silver badge

    They've forgotten what they're best at; artificial fragmentation

    They could have done a Courier Home edition with a link to Hotmail then come out later with a Courier Business edition with a hastily ported version of Office and Active Directory.

    They would have realised that people with the Home edition would have been willing to fork out again to get the Business edition functionality, it's not as if the haven't realised that people are willing to pay for features which have been withheld from the beginning (Windows Anytime Upgrade).

    Instead management knocked the entire project on the head and MS got left behind by four years.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coruier - nice application concept (but not OS)

    From the video, Courier was clearly a nice concept for an application which could sit on top of a full OS. It seems that it was intended to have email since the video shows something being emailed, but just not using a regular email interface. Some really nice GUI concepts based around the collection of "books" - I'm not a programmer (or GUI designer etc. etc.) but it actually looked really nice. Well... I'd want a pop-up on-screen keyboard interface rather than some kind of handwriting recognition, but hey...

    I guess that the issue is that what the video shows is a very tightly focussed software product, not an OS platform that can be put to lots of different uses. So a nice-looking application concept, but nothing more than that.

  26. Graham Bartlett


    FWIW, WordPerfect died bcos it was WAAAAY late with WYSIWYG. The fact that their port to Windows was shite (through their own fault, not MS's) also didn't help. Word 2 was simply better.

  27. David Gale

    Great ideas will always fail if the marketing is poor

    Great ideas will always fail if the marketing is poor - I'm still a regular user of an HP TC1100 Windows Tablet that must be 7-8 year old by now. It runs Windows 7 with ease but I prefer XP. Abysmal marketing by HP and a lukewarm effort by Microsoft killed off what is still the most functional business tablet ever produced.

    David Gale


  28. Sirius Lee
    Thumb Down

    Hello, Bill's legal team here...

    I hope you will let us know what's said when the Gates' legal team come knocking. This is an article about an article. In the original article the author was at pains to point out he'd deduced his conclusion about Gates' role in the demise of the Courier project from conversations with potential insiders, non of whom had first hand experience of the situation. None-the-less this speculation has morphed in the imperative:


    This is a headline worthy of the (now defunct) Daily Sport on so many levels.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    from the linked article

    "Allard also appreciated the importance of design, creating studios, rather than traditional office space, where his teams toiled. A key Allard trait: challenging convention."

    Seems very un-Microsoft - not surprised he left. Ended up where, I wonder?

  30. h4rm0ny


    It's a shame the Courier was binned. I was actually very keen to get such a device. Though if it couldn't handle email, then perhaps it wasn't what I thought it was. Still, it looked good.

  31. Peter 48

    it will rise again

    I could see the courier be reborn using windows 8. In essence it is two galaxy notes hinged together with a more unified interface. Look at the latest add for the Note. It uses a lot of the ideas shown in the Courier concept video. stick a Kinect sensor into it and you can add gesture control into the mix. Sell it as a companion to a desktop/laptop and you would have a winner. MS have all the ingredients to make this work now. All they need is the balls to do so.

  32. stim


    I think with Win8 they have a good foundation for phone, tab, pc, xbox/home theatre, all under one 'windows' roof, all looking quite similar & familiar and working on all devices.

    So maybe having a family of stuff is better than bits and pieces.

    We shall only really see their plan in full in 12 - 18 months from now.

    True it's going to be a bit late, but there's a lot of future out there... i don't expect any tech from today to be around in 10 years time, so that must mean there's more competition to come!

  33. Wild Bill

    Hi Hugo

    I made this scrap book with my expensive scrapbooking toy. Now can you please do all the actual work for me?

  34. Rich 2 Silver badge

    MS in action

    "...ates wanted to protect Microsoft cash cows such as Office, Exchange, and Outlook..."

    Ah! A classic case of the Microsoft "innovation" that we keep hearing about

  35. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    A tablet that worked!

    Would have loved these instead stuck with the dreadful Windows XP Tablet Edition which meant at the time had to go for a laptop with touchscreen (TC4400) instead of a proper slate for Sales.

  36. Microphage

    The short version

    "Gates reportedly asked Allard how Courier users would receive email on the device. Allard replied that the tablet wasn't conceived to be an email device in and of itself – it was intended as as complement to such email-capable devices as smartphones and PCs"

    1:54 "I plan to collerabate with West Elms designer so I give him access to this journal"

    1:29 "Now I do a little online research, I pull up the web"

    This strikes me as disengenious restrospective revisionism. How about just calling it what it really was - - vapourware. The real lesson to be learned from the Courier project is that it's infinitely harder to actually build such a device as compared to making an animation of a wishlist. Rather than a demonstration of who won (viz-a-viz Windows versus something else) it shows that Apple are good at building things while Microsoft are good at going back in time and patenting them :)

    'Greene, "sought advice from the one tech visionary`

    You just have to be kidding .. :)

    "Whether the Courier would have .. proved a worthy competitor to Apple über-successful fondleslab will never be known"

    Er no .. it would have proved to be the equivalent of Zune on the iPAD :)

    1. dogged

      you forgot your icon.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might be used by

    I read a little bit about this somewhere else; I don;t know about you, but if I was spending all that money on developing something, I would expect clear answers about the expected users, not a bunch of "might be used by".

    I used to think this was a good idea from Microsoft, but when I read that it was not going to be able to run Windows, it lost all value to me.

  38. cosmo the enlightened

    Agile? er.. No.

    This is a shame. If the office suite could have been able to churn out a light wieght capability ala Window Phone 7, then this could have been an interesting dog fight of fondle slabs.

    The ship has sailed on that device sadly but MS's mindset is stuck in legacy code and legacy software squeezing the corporate buck...hmm that reminds me of... oh yes IBM from the eighties.

    The organisation needs an electric shock of agility pumped through it at 50 million volts.

    it is a vision thing goes around it comes around...

  39. Stevie


    As I read it, and like everyone else I wasn't there and so only have the foggiest notion of what was said and done, this comes down to the answer Allard gave.

    Instead of a waffle-rich answer that boiled down to "can't" he *might* have said "with the Courier Outlook App, currently in initial design".

    No, there wasn't one at that point (but there should have been), but it would have been better to bullshirt about that than about how the device wasn't meant to be useful to someone who - whether you like the results or not - shaped the way the vast majority of people in the western world spend their free time these days.

    Seen it before, bought the T-shirt, have postcards.

  40. Levente Szileszky

    Classic example of this loser, me-too, absolutely incompetent bureaucracy at MS

    People keet saying how Gates was better than this fat beancounter pr!ck Ballmer - only when it came to technical understanding but when it's about new things and business Gates is just another corporate shitkicker with no vision whatsoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "fat beancounter prick"


  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft are managed by 'dinosaurs'

    It didn't matter one tiny bit that the Courier tablet did not support full blow email given that is easy to fix with another App or an App using a web service. What is ironic is the demo on this page showed email and journalling which was far less clunky that Outlook and even in a business context, so Bill was an idiot to reject it given the low risk of the product!

    One of the hardest parts of a new platform is to make a usable interface, which Courier appeared to get right, but Bill was too blind to see this.

    Microsoft is really just an IP company which periodically buys up innovative companies or technology to make up for the lack of real innovation in their stagnant corporate culture; this was the case from the very start! This what you get for having a Lawyer (professional liar) type from starting this kind of business.

  42. All names Taken

    I was looking forward to its release and wondered what had happened to it.

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