Microsoft's secret 'Courier' booklet device unveiled

With rumors abound that Apple is bringing out a tablet device at the start of next year, people seem to have forgotten about opposition. Gizmodo certainly haven't forgotten, and they've just released the first details of a new take on the tablet device... from Microsoft. You heard that correctly; Microsoft is going to be bringing out a tablet-like device soon, which is named the 'Courier'.

Gizmodo states that the Courier device isn't actually a tablet, but more of a booklet; it boasts two (approximately) 7-inch screens, held together with a hinge, giving it that book-like appearance. The hinge in the middle will hold a home button, similar to the iPhone, and the outer rim of one of the screens will display statuses, such as battery life and wireless signal. To add to this, the back of the Courier will hold a camera.

The project started as a secret, known only to a few people within Microsoft, such as J. Allard who is apparently leading the way with the device. It is said that the device is now at the stage where the company is building up the UI, as well as demonstrating it to other companies. The aim for it is to be like a book, in a way; it is designed to be written and drawn on using a stylus, but also allowing the user to use their fingers, too. Gizmodo says they'll be unveiling more about it as time goes on, so keep an eye out for this.





Images courtesy of Gizmodo.

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this looks awsome, definately gonna get one! i wonder if ya open it like a laptop will it have the facility for one of the touch screens to become an on screen keyboard, that would make this unbelieveable! and lefty support please!!!

I was thinking the same thing about one of the screens serving as a keyboard, essentially convertng it to a laptop. The problem, though, is the difficulty of typing on a touch-screen due to lack of tactile feedback for your fingers. It's the same reason some people shy away from cell phones with touch screen keyboards. Not to mention that its only a 7" screen....isn't that too small of a keyboard?

In any case, I'm very excited and can't wait to get my paws on one.

I have to agree. MS is starting to understanding marketing again. They had it for a while otherwise they would not have dominated so early on. Apple the marketing genius comes in and becomes the leader of the game and MS has finally decided to try to beat them at their game. I am a PC commercial when it was first rumored that apple called Microsoft and asked them to pull the Ad. Many people said that probably didn't happen but it DID. They have Silverlight, Zune, Xbox, Pink Phones(questionable), this notebook and I think we will be pleasantly surprised with Windows Mobile 7. Thats when the apps will start to fly.

That's the problem with Apple products - you don't actually know what they're working on till they announce it but when they do, the thing's going to be shipped out to your door in a matter of months.

The way MS handled the UI and hardware of the Zune HD, I have great hopes from this company again (not to mention Windows 7). Let the competition begin!

Oh no, just when I forgot how to write with pencil... Can I just type in that book? Well, I'm not a designer either ...

Nice but there is a "little trouble". Touchscreen interface STINK!. (with the exception of a real Wacom + stylus).

I believe it was 2007. iPhone hardware were RELEASED in June 2007 so obviously Apple worked out the hardware and software by this stage. The difference between Surface and Apple is that this multi touch technology is in the hands of millions driving awareness, competition and cheaper tech.

With rumors abound that Apple is bringing out a tablet device at the start of next year, people seem to have forgotten about opposition.

It is amazing how short some people's memories are. (Or perhaps they are just selective). But once again a Tablet article makes Apple look like the innovator whereas anyone who has been in IT for more than a few years knows that Bill Gates envisioned this a long time ago and pushed the Tablet version of Windows on Tablet PC's. Again he was ahead of times, but once Apple decides to follow suit everyone thinks they are the almighty inventor.

Microsoft's "new" device is hardly a new idea from Microsoft. And it certainly had no inspiration from Apple.

The best part is that when Apple will release their iTablet (if they do), suddenly every other Tablet released will become just a wannabe copy. Seriously, there are times I just can't understand people.

I dunno, Vivicidal, netbooks have keyboards, and they run typical operating systems as opposed to purposely-made OSes with limited functionality and applications. I never liked tablets, they try to find middle ground between smartphones and small form factor notebooks, but in the end they can't replace any of them.

I can do these things with either my netbook or my smartphone, but this device isn't going to replace any of them.

Seems to me if they can get Google Wave working on this too, this would have a lot of potential. But of course, unlikely.

This looks like an awesome piece of technology. Microsoft need to produce these themselves as third parties have proved they can botch up some of Microsoft's good ideas. If they can make this robust and as cheap as possible i see these as becoming the next big thing in the IT world. Also they need to work on sharing the information on the pad as hassle free as possible.

The perfect accessory for the University student. If it can import Powerpoint slides, and being able to add notes to the slides, they'll be off the shelves in no time. I guarantee you I will buy one for my gf. She's always printing the slides and what not and then writing on them. Very time consuming. But carrying this digital thing around would be simply amazing. Saves so much more time, money, paper, and not carryiing around all these notes!

Awesome. I hope they allow you to change your handwriting to some computerized font because my handwriting sucks so bad that I don't even want to read it. Well, it's not that bad but it displeases my sense of order. And damn it, make my boxes straight too. I don't want crooked lines.

Wow, MS was able to have Apple like secrecy on this device apparently. If this pans out to be the real thing in the real world in like a year that would be pretty amazing! Has the potential to be the new killer app for hardware like the iPhone but with a touch netbook dual screen tablet pc. It could kill Sony's eReader and the Kindle. You know there going to make it eBook file compatible somehow, or someone will-maybe Netflix. :-P

I wonder what battery life would be on this thing? I can't see it being too useful if I only get 5 or 6 hours out of it. Could be cool but we will see.

Hope they release it within next 1yr, no 6mths, no 3mths. Ya, before someone comes up with something similar/better than this.

Also, I hope M$ doesnt price is at 10k, like they did for surface.

BTW, they should allow us to develop Apps in .NET and allow us to share it with others like Android does, not block us like they did for Zune HD.

If all the above 3 are followed, it'll really be a device for socialnetworking, otherwise, may make noise like ZuneHD, and have our fingers crossed when they'll release the App Store.

Pretty sure it wouldn't be anything like $10K, this and Surface are different beasts. If I had to have a totally wild guess, that means nothing, I'd be thinking $750, can't see it being dirt cheap if they stick with the dual screens. But it would be great if it was!

AWESOME
This thing can really make huge change, specially if made available everywhere, with good price, without special restrictions.

I'm betting the initial price will be off the charts for something that essentially replaces an €1 costing paper note block and maybe €5 worth of agenda. Most people who need it already own a smart phone or laptop. I have a very hard time believing this will become a mainstream product over the next 5 years. It's a cool gimmick a handful of people will buy, but won't really reach the majority of the consumers out there.

Don't get me wrong it looks totally amazing and cool, but I doubt people will pay big money for something like this if they can get a fully featured laptop for basically the same price.

Doubt whether it would be off the charts in the same way as Surface, but who knows. If it only cost the same as a laptop then I'd say it would sell well, I've a feeling it would be more expensive though.

And wouldn't it be awesome if this thing included free data access like the Amazon Kindle?

...agh, it'll never happen. Seems like the only way for something like this to really catch on, what with all the collaborative and location-based services.

.Neo said,
I'm betting the initial price will be off the charts for something that essentially replaces an €1 costing paper note block and maybe €5 worth of agenda. Most people who need it already own a smart phone or laptop. I have a very hard time believing this will become a mainstream product over the next 5 years. It's a cool gimmick a handful of people will buy, but won't really reach the majority of the consumers out there.

Don't get me wrong it looks totally amazing and cool, but I doubt people will pay big money for something like this if they can get a fully featured laptop for basically the same price.

I remember people said the exact same thing when Apple started rolling on the iPod.

Relativity_17 said,
I remember people said the exact same thing when Apple started rolling on the iPod.

It took three years for the iPod to become an actual success after its initial release. Prices dropped, capacity went up, iTunes for Windows was released, iPod mini was released etc. The product matured quite a bit before it picked up real momentum. So those people were right.

Silverskull said,
Integration with OneNote, integration with OneNote, integration with OneNote...

Regardless, I want it!

I would be shocked if this feature wasn't included in a device like this to be honest. It's really a no brainer...

M_Lyons10 said,


I would be shocked if this feature wasn't included in a device like this to be honest. It's really a no brainer...

Agreed, it is, but the new Zune HD doesn't have wireless sharing, so... anything's possible. x.x

It certainly is a nice device, but the question is, do we have a confirmed source?

Something just strikes me the wrong way. :P

Don't understand the surprise "you heard that correctly", MS aren't exactly new when it comes to tablets. Anyway, looks really nice but apparently nowhere near production. If it ever does arrive wonder if it will be so wow or end up watered down and just be a single screen?

cakesy said,
Really? Have Microsoft ever produced the hardware for a tablet before? That is why it is a surprise.

That's what I was thinking as well... Did I miss something?

m.keeley said,
Perhaps WinMo 7 rather than Win 7?

Win 7—arguably—has a decent UI. Microsoft haven't had a good track record on well-designed, well-considered, restrained, core-feature-focused, consistent, fluid UIs.

Check out the mockup video of this thing. That's dynamite fluid UI. Microsoft are now just starting to accomplish this (Zune). If they could pull that off, I will be mightily impressed.

@mattrobs,
- Microsoft are not 5 guys in a garage. Zune, WinMo 6.5, the Expression Studio, the Live Essentials, Windows 7, Office 2010. All these products have sleek, beautiful yet different UIs. People still have Win98 in their mind whenever Microsoft is in the picture.

mattrobs said,
Win 7—arguably—has a decent UI. Microsoft haven't had a good track record on well-designed, well-considered, restrained, core-feature-focused, consistent, fluid UIs.

Check out the mockup video of this thing. That's dynamite fluid UI. Microsoft are now just starting to accomplish this (Zune). If they could pull that off, I will be mightily impressed.

The mockup video does look sharp. I look forward to seeing what comes of this in all honesty. Microsoft has been taking UI quite seriously as of late, and have been coming up with some good ideas. I think they might get it now...

Win 7 does have a good interface, just not sure about it for this type of device. Of course there are no tech specs as yet but WinMo you'd think would be better for low power device. Depending who you believe it's no where near production so wouldn't preclude waiting for WinMo 7.

m.keeley said,
Win 7 does have a good interface, just not sure about it for this type of device. Of course there are no tech specs as yet but WinMo you'd think would be better for low power device. Depending who you believe it's no where near production so wouldn't preclude waiting for WinMo 7.

Well, Microsoft Surface for example runs a version of Windows Vista with some glitz on top. They could do something like this to Windows 7 for this device. They likely want full WPF support and such. Windows 7 is supposed to have a lot of power management improvements as well so that it can run well on Netbooks and everything as well.

Not saying you're wrong but Surface isn't and doesn't need to be low power. Even a netbook may be powerful and power hungry compared to the hardware this will run, I obviously don't know. Don't think anyone knows what they're planning for WinMo 7 but they might introduce WPF etc for that, especially now that mobile CPU's and GPU's are becoming more beefy. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

m.keeley said,
Not saying you're wrong but Surface isn't and doesn't need to be low power. Even a netbook may be powerful and power hungry compared to the hardware this will run, I obviously don't know. Don't think anyone knows what they're planning for WinMo 7 but they might introduce WPF etc for that, especially now that mobile CPU's and GPU's are becoming more beefy. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

I agree. I look forward to seeing what they have planned for Windows Mobile 7. I wonder when we'll start seeing something... Should be interesting to see.

mattrobs said,
I'm not holding my breath until I see the UI. This is Microsoft after all.

zuneHD has a decent UI, so I guess theres some hope.

Gabe3 said,
zuneHD has a decent UI, so I guess theres some hope.

Exactly, I agree. I'm not all that worried, Microsoft seems to be taking UI very seriously anymore.

Wow, that looks wicked. I would buy one in a heart beat (Assuming cost is reasonable).

The only think I do really hope is that they have a place you can put the stylus in... Based on the design of the stylus it doesn't look like this current version supports that, but of course it's early too. That's just a pet peeve of mine for devices that have stylus'. I don't like having to worry about losing them.

The device looks pretty neat so far, I wonder what the software will look like. I'm sure it supports .Net development too, so I'm sure there'll be a lot of options for this in the future.

cakesy said,
Every single device with a stylus, that I have used in the last 5 years, has had a place for the stylus.

Yeah, which makes sense. I imagine it will, but this early version has a stylus with a pen cap, which wouldn't really work for putting it somewhere... I'm assuming this is just for the early version, but who knows...

"The hinge in the middle will hold a home button, similar to the iPhone"
you think Apple invented the home button or something?

artfuldodga said,
"The hinge in the middle will hold a home button, similar to the iPhone"
you think Apple invented the home button or something?

Bwaha, not at all! "They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button," said Gizmodo. I just said that it's similar to the iPhone, which it is.

.Neo said,
My god people around here are oversensitive.

First rule of Neowin, don't mention Apple, unless it is derogatory.

A few people here have a bit of an Apple complex. Apple produce some great devices, that they want, but they could never get over the fact that it is made by Apple. That is why they get so excited over ZuneHD, an actual device that looks good, and made by Microsoft.

DJ-Light said,
Why not like the ZuneHD? The ZuneHD also have a home button, why always that button have to be compared to a ipod?

Because this home button looks nothing like the button on the Zune HD, perhaps.

This would be perfect for University. I am currently printing slides and manually annotating them. These devices can not come soon enough. An half analog half digital note taking lifestyle is complicated at times.

Intelman said,
This would be perfect for University. I am currently printing slides and manually annotating them. These devices can not come soon enough. An half analog half digital note taking lifestyle is complicated at times.

Exactly! I tend to view notes on my iPhone, since my uni distributes them as .PDFs. This is all well and good but I can't annotate them at all, so I've got to go and print them all out, which can take a while. This thing is perfect for this

Exactly ! This this would be brilliant for Uni ! Want ! I hope they don't take too much time before releasing it 'cause i'm gonna start saving for it.

E.Fahd said,
Exactly ! This this would be brilliant for Uni ! Want ! I hope they don't take too much time before releasing it 'cause i'm gonna start saving for it.

I bet it will be pretty far off. Coming 2011 or something like that There are no real photos of this working. Just that strange mockup.

Intelman said,
This would be perfect for University. I am currently printing slides and manually annotating them. These devices can not come soon enough. An half analog half digital note taking lifestyle is complicated at times.

Yeah i've been dreaming for a device like this since day 1! It will be so easy to keep all your notes in one place (I am sick and tired of the millions of paper in my room) and it will make it painless to exchange notes.
If it works the way I imagine it would double my productivity I am sure!
I doubt it's coming soon though
We will have to see what Apple will present if they do.

Intelman said,
I bet it will be pretty far off. Coming 2011 or something like that There are no real photos of this working. Just that strange mockup.

The Zune HD was in the same position two months ago and it came out on the 15th.

Rolith said,
man... "It's going to be the future soon."

yea all we need is self driving and flying cars and its the future.