Microsoft Courier coming in 2011

An early report from the New York Times claims that Microsoft is aiming for a 2011 release for their famed Courier tablet. Engineers familiar with the device state that though they are targeting for an early release next year, it has not been set in stone. 

The curious new dual-screen tablet has been met with much fanfare on the internet even though Microsoft has yet to demo an actual working unit. It seems as if the device is real and working within Redmond’s walls though, as a Microsoft employee who claims to have seen it states that it’s about the size of a regular paperback book that unfolds to two parallel screens.

The current hurdles that Microsoft are trying to address right now with the Courier are battery life and the target market:

“…Microsoft engineers have concerns about the battery power needed to keep the two screens going, these [engineers] said. And internally the company is struggling to identify the right market. At first the idea was to market the Courier for designers and architects, but lately the company is thinking of a broader market of consumers and so would include e-books, magazines and other media content on the device."

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If they can fix the battery issues would be great. I would love to bring this in the field to take notes (construction) so hopefully it's robust, and would be able to take pictures, etc. with it at the same time. It would be perfect.

They have to focus this on students I think. That's where it will hit home. Every student will want one if they do this up right.

Courier could be an interesting product if Microsoft learns from Apple even though it hurts a little to bit to say this. A directed market product with a robust online market for applications.


Right now Microsoft has some advantages with WP7 and these should apply to a Courier device as well.


1) WP7 is crazy easy to develop for with Silverlight and XNA, making Cocoa/Objective-C seem complex and slow. (Which is hard to do, as I have respect for the iPhone development tools.)

2) WP7 has a new social model of connectivity that really could matter as it is spread throughout the design of the OS and encouraged to be taken advantage of even for 3rd party applications.

3) Courier could use both of these concepts and if Microsoft can define the collaboration of a personal journal with the WP7 concepts and make this obvious to the users, it could redefine how people use devices and computers. (This is a big if, but I can see the potential here of how to do it, so I assume someone at Microsoft also is smart enough to see this as well.)


WP7 will get some bounce from the Zune Marketplace. This is one of the things Microsoft did right and has stuck to keeping right. There is a large market that enjoys the subscription model without connectivity that last.fm and other online solutions require.


Watching people save to buy tracks on iTunes almost hurts after moving to a Zune full time. I feel guilty that anytime someone mentions a new singer or a new song or even an old song or band I can just look them up on my Zune and have the song or everything the singer ever did downloaded and available to listen to instantly without having to pirate it or spend $$ for each track.

I honestly don't understand the disappointment over a 2011 release target. I've just sort of assumed this was going to use a branch of the same OS behind Windows Phone 7, which is expected at the end of the year. So there was no way this was coming before the phones.

Everyone who thinks this is, or should be, just a front end on top of Windows 7 is horribly misinformed.

GP007 said,
So, the NYT has never been wrong has it? There was another story yesterday on some other sites saying Toshiba is making a two screen tablet running Windows CE. And guess who made the first Zunes for MS? That story also said they're making it for this year not 2011.

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20100419PD217.html

Make of this what you will.

Hm, I hadn't seen that news story before, but it does say "...with shipments scheduled for the end of 2010 or early 2011.". So, that would be in line with this story anyway I think. Because if Compal is building tablet PC's for Toshiba and will be shipping around this time, it would still take some time to make it to retail... So late 2010 could become early 2011 to begin with... Assuming the 2011 figure isn't more accurate...

I'm glad to hear that this appears to be coming out, as I want one badly. But I am a bit anxious as well. It just looks so cool (And rather useful for me as well)...

Well, I'm kind of disappointed that I have to wait until 2011... But so long as it's up to par and has decent battery life I guess... Battery life is kind of important.

I just hope that it isn't tied to a data plan of some sort. Let me cache e-mail and uploads and have it send those up when a wi-fi is available or something...

2011?? Hmm that's late...

So what to do, get the HP Slate or a better windows slate, or wait for the Courier... maybe both

How could any exec at MS look at this and not green light it, and put it on the fast track, and scream it's name from the rooftops? And Balmer not run like a mad monkey for weeks?

Obviously it got enough support to prototype and create these crazy "concept" videos.... and then why did someone at MS quietly leak them unless they never got any support to build it?

thornz0 said,
Going to be late to the party again.

Microsoft's been first to the party, what are you talking about? Tablet PC's have existed for years.....

andrewbares said,

Microsoft's been first to the party, what are you talking about? Tablet PC's have existed for years.....

This is hardly a normal tablet pc, what are you talking about? It's not just hardware but software experience and now that they've tipped their hand, we can expect to see others copy. Also, late to the party again would be a reference to their sluggish response on the phone OS front.

Edited by thornz0, Apr 20 2010, 11:13pm :

thornz0 said,

This is hardly a normal tablet pc, what are you talking about? It's not just hardware but software experience and now that they've tipped their hand, we can expect to see others copy. Also, late to the party again would be a reference to their sluggish response on the phone OS front.

So who else has done something like this? How is MS late?

Glendi said,

So who else has done something like this? How is MS late?

Yeah, I'd say this is rather unique... It's very different from from standard tablets (Which was far from a market Microsoft wasn't in before the iPad anyway), so I don't see how they could be late to the game at all.

andrewbares said,

Microsoft's been first to the party, what are you talking about? Tablet PC's have existed for years.....

Don't confuse Tablets with Slate devices, Tablets just run a standard OS with not much in the way of customised UI.

REM2000 said,

Don't confuse Tablets with Slate devices, Tablets just run a standard OS with not much in the way of customised UI.


This is true, but it is also an intentional design that is a good thing. Companies have been able to use standard applications and custom software that works on both traditional computers and Tablets at the same time.


The cool thing about the Pen/Ink features of Windows, especially in Vista and Win7 is that you don't need anyting special to take advantage of a new Stylus/Pen interface model.


You can literally use the TabletPC with Vista or Win7 100% of the time with just a stylus/pen and with ANY application and in a way that isn't as cumbersome as people seem to assume. In fact, most of the user interaction is far easier and faster than a traditional keyboard mouse, and this is without modifying any of the traditional software, which is where the brilliance in what it does exists.

There is an argument for customized applications designed for Tablets and Touch computing that are even more productive; however, this was never the initial goal of the TabletPC designs outside of things like Journal/OneNote and things like Media Center.


Great touch and tablet only application designs are great and are moving in the right direction as well. It is important to note that in a more complex OS, like Win7, both can exist very well with users never seeing below the touch/pen applications or digging into the basic applications and OS in a traditional way.


Why not have the extra punch of a full OS and traditional applications if you can? I know that with my TabletPC, using it very much like someone with an iPad would most of the time, it is quite nice to be able to break out of the basic media and touch applications and if I need launch photoshop or painter and do some real sketches on the device or open business applications never designed with me writing on the screen and have them work well.


Where Win7 and Microsoft have missed the ball is in having a basic UI application for this that provides the basic OS functions, that also has a full ecosystem and online application store for these types of applications to be easily integrated into the new basic UI running on the system. Apple was weirdly smart about this, even though most of us thought that by limiting Applications and choices they would hurt themselves.

Battery life? Base this bad boy on Win CE, run an ARM processor and dim one of the screens if it's not being used after a couple of minutes. Don't run the screens full bore if a user is focusing on just one of them for a while. Also, if most of the hardware (SoC, memory, storage, etc.) is under one of the screens, that should leave room under the other for a sizable battery, right?

Also, give it a KinStudio-type sync option to the cloud. Boo yaaa.

Also the solution for the battery issue is simple. Add two batteries connect the current at one point or another and it's done. Give me atleast 6 hours of baterry life for my 6 classes and we be good.

Melfster said,
Yeah Steve Jobs is going to add Pen input to the iPad.

lol the screens of ipads crack when first droped on carpet ( when tested in reviews ), i could amagine the turmoil from people cracking screens from a stylus. it would be nice though to have Digital Ink though. regardless of device its more natural to write then type

Hell-In-A-Handbasket said,

lol the screens of ipads crack when first droped on carpet ( when tested in reviews ), i could amagine the turmoil from people cracking screens from a stylus. it would be nice though to have Digital Ink though. regardless of device its more natural to write then type

Oh really? eek! Can you link to the review that tested this?

DaveGreen said,
Better "late" and fully functional than "soon" and beta on customers!

Or beta on customers, grab their profile and data... say "oops".. then fix it... then say you totally hearts privacy... and let it begin again with your next beta product. ;-)

majg said,

Or beta on customers, grab their profile and data... say "oops".. then fix it... then say you totally hearts privacy... and let it begin again with your next beta product. ;-)

Yep, I meant "beta testing" ON customers.

This has lots of holes, from an API point-of-view. She flicks the contact into the window to find him on the map, and then flicks another contact into the page to share it with him. Inconsistent, much? There's clearly nothing of this available, it's all mock-ups.

Dessimat0r said,
This has lots of holes, from an API point-of-view. She flicks the contact into the window to find him on the map, and then flicks another contact into the page to share it with him. Inconsistent, much? There's clearly nothing of this available, it's all mock-ups.

I don't see your point. You drag a contact onto a map, it finds that contact on the map. You drag a contact on to a to-do list it shares it. Seems alot like drag-and-drop in most UIs today - you drag something onto a second something, and the second something decides what to do with it.

Dessimat0r said,
This has lots of holes, from an API point-of-view. She flicks the contact into the window to find him on the map, and then flicks another contact into the page to share it with him. Inconsistent, much? There's clearly nothing of this available, it's all mock-ups.

Perhaps, but there are some interesting 'dna' between Courier, KIN and WP7. (KIN Spot, KIN Loop, KIN Studio).

Dessimat0r said,
This has lots of holes, from an API point-of-view. She flicks the contact into the window to find him on the map, and then flicks another contact into the page to share it with him. Inconsistent, much? There's clearly nothing of this available, it's all mock-ups.

Let's see... what happens when you drag a file to a folder? It gets copied/moved. What happens when you drag a file to the trash/recycle bin? It gets deleted. What about dragging into an email? It gets attached.

Is that inconsistent? It's called contextually aware software. People like it.

C_Guy said,
What does that have to do with the article? Nothing.

Everything, much like Win Mobile 7, this is already irrelevant.

Kingv84 said,
The Courier is coming when the iPad 2.0 is going to be released. Nice. ;-)

At least it will be complete. Releasing a product with important lacks like iPad is nonsense.

m4n3 said,

At least it will be complete. Releasing a product with important lacks like iPad is nonsense.


That's what you think. Even Windows Phone 7 will lack some important features like multitasking and copy/paste on release. How you can claim Courier will be 'complete' is beyond me.
By then the iPad will be 'complete' for sure though.

Imran Hussain said,

That's what you think. Even Windows Phone 7 will lack some important features like multitasking and copy/paste on release. How you can claim Courier will be 'complete' is beyond me.
By then the iPad will be 'complete' for sure though.

Windows Phone 7 has much better multitasking APIs than iPhone OS 4. Apps that can do built-in integration into the hubs like Pandora Radio could be integrated into the Zune hub so background-playback. Uploading to Facebook happens also continues when you go back to the Start screen. It's much more advanced than iPhone OS 4 Multitasking in that the entire user-interface is centered around being able to get everything you can get done on a phone from a glance and built-in experiences can be extended.

Plus when a company reveals mistakes and listens to customer feedback, you feel relieved. When we heard they are definitely considering it as a future update and know exactly how they are going to implement it, made us feel we future Windows Phone users would be rewarded. Apple didn't care about copy and paste or multitasking but at last minute, they introduce all those features...they can't be trusted...

Electric Jolt said,

Plus when a company reveals mistakes and listens to customer feedback, you feel relieved. When we heard they are definitely considering it as a future update and know exactly how they are going to implement it, made us feel we future Windows Phone users would be rewarded.

Interesting that you call "Multitasking " a future update that will be considered; I have it on my HTC HD2 so I would call it a regression in WP7.
Not to mention the lack of removable storage......
However everybody is entitled to his own opinion therefore enjoy your WP7; I might be back when WP8 will be released, I might......

Fritzly said,

Interesting that you call "Multitasking " a future update that will be considered; I have it on my HTC HD2 so I would call it a regression in WP7.
Not to mention the lack of removable storage......
However everybody is entitled to his own opinion therefore enjoy your WP7; I might be back when WP8 will be released, I might......

will skip WM7, and go adroid with my next phone, HTC still, but android.

Kingv84 said,
The Courier is coming when the iPad 2.0 is going to be released. Nice. ;-)

And the iPad will still be a pointless product. I don't have much hope for the courier though, especially after all the hype for WP7; a lot of the things generating the hype are being delayed or left out.

Problem is, both companies know they can get away with selling second rate products on release just via initial excitement (iPad and Windows Vista).

alfaaqua said,

The joke is starting to get really old.

Yeah, this is extremely old and outdated - it should read:
"But can it run Crysis 2?"

Kaidiir said,

Yeah, this is extremely old and outdated - it should read:
"But can it run Crysis 2?"


Nah CryTek has learned a thing about optimizing code since the launch of Crysis, wouldn't be surprised i the requirements of Crysis 2 would be lower than the original ^^

alfaaqua said,

And it seems that it does from the video

And I seem to recall an iPad video that showed it running Flash as well... doesn't mean much, these are concept videos.