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Microsoft preempts Apple, shows Courier tablet concept

updated 08:15 pm EDT, Tue September 22, 2009

Microsoft Courier tablet

Microsoft this evening preempted its arch-rival Apple in the tablet game with the Courier, its own self-developed tablet. The rough example discussed at the Gizmodo Gallery event is shaped like a book and has two 7-inch multi-touch displays that fold up when the system isn't in use. It would also support a stylus for handwriting and include a 3-megapixel camera on the back. While not yet certain for final production, Microsoft also suggests that the Courier might use inductive charging to power the device without having to plug it in.

The operating system choice isn't clear, but its interface is closer to that of the highly visual Zune HD rather than a straightforward use of Windows 7's multi-touch abilities. It notably uses the hinge area as an interface element that has both the home button as well as a virtual storage space for items being swapped from display to display.

Outside of these, the company will so far only say the system is a "late prototype" and hasn't committed to a specific release date or full technical details. However, the Courier does confirm rumors of a J Allard-developed tablet at the company that would borrow his expertise with the Xbox and Zune as well as elements of the Surface team.

The unveiling puts pressure on Apple, which is rumored to have its own tablet in February with a custom-developed ARM processor, built-in 3G and at least one 9.7-inch multi-touch display. Apple's product is rumored to focus heavily on media playback with a variant of the iPhone OS rather than Mac OS X.

by MacNN Staff



  1. cranfordio

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Since when has vaporware been considered beating another company?

  1. rtbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    just like they beat everyone... announcing (NOT releasing) a touch-screen, iphone-like device the size of a small car.

    yeah, pretty crazy how Surface has just taken over everywhere i go. seems like i can't go for more than about a 100,000 miles without running into another one of those ubiquitous Surface tables.

  1. HCRefugee

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple just yawned

    What I see is a video animation of a tablet device and (on their web site photos of tablet device displaying photos. Proof of concept stuff, or if you prefer animations of a "late prototype."

    Comment buried. Show
  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...never claimed that they were first with a tablet, nor have they claimed that this is being released. If you have a problem with these claims, b**** at macnn/electronista et al.

    With that being said, this is a pretty sick device. You guys can't agree?

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is not a product.

    It's a cartoon about a future product. I put more stock in the sightings of physical objects in Cupertino than in some Flash - sorry - Silverlight file.

  1. Zaren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Looks cool, but...

    At the first glance, I was all set to buy it. But after watching the interface in action, I'm not so sure. The interface looks a bit complex and mish-mashed. I'll have to see more of it before I can really consider it.

  1. Twoflowers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A folding tablet

    Wow. Someone at Microsoft finally copied the Knowledge Navigator video. Now that's innovation. Seriously, it was just a matter of time before these start showing up. Didn't Asus show one of these about a month ago? And isn't the XO group working on a dual screen folding gizmo? Until it's sitting on the table in front of me, I can't see much to the claim that Micro$oft beat anyone at anything.

  1. brainworks

    Joined: Dec 1969


    dsi turned sideways

    seperate screens? stylus? why? why not just have one screen and a good interface that you can touch?

    the whole appeal of a tablet (to me) would be that everything is consolidated to one piece, only maybe a remote so you can view media from a distance (like the recent hp tablet)

  1. macnews

    Joined: Dec 1969


    maybe not real but...

    I like the potential here. Interface may have its likes and dislikes but overall, I like this MUCH better than a laptop. Most of what I do - notes, email, web, calendar, tasks, etc - can be done easily on today's machines I just would like to do it by writing/stylus or typing.

    I also like the ability to fold it if it means having a smaller size to carry around. Two 7" screens might be a bit small (guessing like all screens they are measured on the diagonal) individually but together and being able to make it compact might be nice.

    Bottom line - this isn't "beating" Apple. I do think it shows the potential and hope it is that very potential why Apple is holding off. Before the iPhone people were begging for Apple to build an iPod/Phone device, but not many - if any - thought of it like what we now have in the iPhone (sans AT&T issues).

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What Actually Happened?

    So what did the user actually DO?

    - Looks up an address on a map
    - Opens a new notebook page/file
    - Scribbles some notes
    - Shares a segment of the notes
    - Makes the new notebook appear on top whenever the tablet powers up/wakes/goes home
    - Takes a few pictures
    - Moves one of the pictures into the new notebook
    - Adds a notation to the picture
    - Opens a browser
    - Copies part of the web page to the notebook
    - Free-form cut-and-pastes part of the web page to the notebook

    If my Nintendo DSi only had two touch screens that were a little larger, I'd be set.

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