More on the death of Microsoft's Courier tablet

Microsoft's Courier tablet project, which would have been released with two seven inch touch screens that folded into each other like a book, never made it into production. News.com posted up the first of a two part story earlier this week that revealed more about the Courier. Now the web site has posted the second part of the feature, with even more info gleaned from chats from unnamed former and current team members at Microsoft.

While the Courier team believed in the project, the tablet didn't sync up with the plans Microsoft's Windows division, led by Steven Sinofsky, had for future versions of the operating system. In the end, the Courier team tried to show Microsoft leaders Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates that the tablet offered features that Windows could not. But Sinofsky's team won out and in hindsight some team members believe now that the Courier might have been saved if they tried to work with the Windows team instead of competing against them. One of the unnamed Courier team members is quoted as saying, "If you get Sinofsky on board from the start, you're probably going to market."

The tablet's project leader J Allard left Microsoft soon after the Courier project was officially shut down by Microsoft in April 2010. So far, he has apparently put in some money into angel investments for a couple of companies but otherwise has kept to himself. Sinofsky is still at Microsoft leading the Windows 8 team. That team hopes that its touch screen interface will find its way on many third party tablets when it launches in 2012.

Image via Gizmodo

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"the Courier team tried to show Microsoft leaders Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates that the tablet offered features that Windows could not"
I didn't get that impression. What exactly would the Courier do that Windows can't especially since Courier runs on Windows? Take all that software mocked up in the concept videos, and release it as a Windows app. What's the difference? Oh yeah, no silly split-screen limitation.

The beauty of doing things in software is that once you split the screen in your specialized hardware, you can't make it whole again. A split-screen tablet can still be made running Windows 8.

@RealFduch The team produced nothing successful, and even if they made a couple things that were "good", they were so isolated that those things never made it back into other Microsoft products. Microsoft is coming back as a unified, aligned company, and the isolationism of this team wasn't so great

"But Sinofsky's team won out and in hindsight some team members believe now that the Courier might have been saved if they tried to work with the Windows team instead of competing against them." Imagine if the Courier's OS and Windows 8 had been melded into one! That would've been frickin' awesome!

I still think that MS has lost a lot when the shut the team. Even if MS didn't want to release the product in its current state, they should have keep the team and let the innovations flow. MS has Microsoft research, so they should have understood the importance of research and innovation.

Remember when iPad was released? People said that it's just an oversized iPod Touch. And they were right. Too bad MS had nothing to counter. And still doesn't. That was both a software and hardware problem. And as for hardware, look how the small Courier team worked with hardware manufacturers to create the hardware they needed for their dream. The small Courier team could, but MS couldn't? I have a Tablet PC and I like it. But seriously, where are the good tablets/slates? There is that Samsung slate that was distributed at //build. It's relatively hot-specced but look at it's weight, dimentions and battery. After all the silly "tablet with a fan" trolling, the truth is that it's really an indicator. The Samsung plans to release the consumer version of the slate soon. Too bad it lacks many features and sensors of the //build machines. So, after a decade of tablet computing from MS, we still don't have a good tablet to run Windows and a Windows version to run on it.

I really wish that MS would learn without dieing.
I don't say that MS doesn't innovate. It does. But if these internal fights will continue, the creative poeple that will continue to leave MS. People seem to forget that in Darwinian natural selection its the fittest who survive, not the "best".

Sorry but there is not a big market for this type of device for Microsoft to get into. They should stick with the tablet form and hope the Windows 8 UI will get people to buy it. Microsoft is already going to have a hard time to sell a Windows 8 tablet when the iPad does the job really well.

Microsoft's Courier tablet project was cool but it was dead out of the water. Microsoft should not spend anymore research on this and force on something else.

ACTIONpack said,
Sorry but there is not a big market for this type of device for Microsoft to get into. They should stick with the tablet form and hope the Windows 8 UI will get people to buy it. Microsoft is already going to have a hard time to sell a Windows 8 tablet when the iPad does the job really well.

Microsoft's Courier tablet project was cool but it was dead out of the water. Microsoft should not spend anymore research on this and force on something else.


Courier was a tablet; Different type but a tablet nontheless....

ACTIONpack said,
Sorry but there is not a big market for this type of device for Microsoft to get into. They should stick with the tablet form and hope the Windows 8 UI will get people to buy it. Microsoft is already going to have a hard time to sell a Windows 8 tablet when the iPad does the job really well.

Microsoft's Courier tablet project was cool but it was dead out of the water. Microsoft should not spend anymore research on this and force on something else.

What in the world are you talking about? There's a HUGE market for a product like this. I know anyone in advertising would have one. They'd be amazing for college students, particularly those in the arts, advertising, business management, etc.

This product would have been huge.

ACTIONpack said,
Sorry but there is not a big market for this type of device for Microsoft to get into. They should stick with the tablet form and hope the Windows 8 UI will get people to buy it. Microsoft is already going to have a hard time to sell a Windows 8 tablet when the iPad does the job really well.

Microsoft's Courier tablet project was cool but it was dead out of the water. Microsoft should not spend anymore research on this and force on something else.

mobile design pros and real estate agents... they wanted it baaaaaaadly! plus that is awesome multitasking on the go... for people used to multi-monitor displays working on a single tiny 7-10 inc single display would feel cramped.