New Microsoft Courier tablet pictures and video leak

Remember Microsoft's new tablet concept that was revealed last September? Well, the book-like Courier device - or "digital journal" as it has now been labelled - may be on the shelves as early as the second half of this year, according to new information leaked to Engadget.

The Courier looks like it will be set up in a direct battle with the Apple iPad. It has been designed to be a very portable and mobile device with a weight of just over a pound and a thickness of under an inch. When closed its footprint will be a little larger than a 5" by 7" photo.

Unlike previously believed, the device isn't based on Windows 7 and instead will run a similar mobile operating system to that used on the Zune HD, Windows Mobile 7 Series and the recently confirmed "Project Pink" devices, why could suggest use of Microsoft's Metro UI. As with the Zune HD, the Courier is expected to use a Tegra chip.

The Courier will also include a built-in camera, headphone jack and stylus, the latter to support its pen-centric interface, which is also designed to include finger touch and gesture controls. The device will feature handwriting recognition and be based around writing and drawing, and could also include e-book support, providing Microsoft's offering to an ever-crowded market.

Said to be led by J Allard -  the Microsoft executive who was involved in the original Xbox and Zune teams - the project has been kept fairly secret for a while now, but Engadget's source has given a possible launch date of Q3 or Q4 of this year. They didn't, however, provide any indication of the price. Gizmodo report that their sources have indicated that it won't appear any time this year.

Two videos of the Courier's interface have also surfaced. One is included below or head over to Engadget to check out the other, along with new pictures of the device.

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I could definitely use something like this as over half my day is spent in concept meetings developing business applications. If it can handle what I want and export to my pc for Project/Visio then they have me sold.

It needs to be able to handle drawing of images for flowcharting, which maybe I missed.

Rohdekill said,
I could definitely use something like this as over half my day is spent in concept meetings developing business applications. If it can handle what I want and export to my pc for Project/Visio then they have me sold.

It needs to be able to handle drawing of images for flowcharting, which maybe I missed.

Yeah, it looks like it would be very good for something like that. That's my plans as well... I want one if it lives up to this... It looks like a great device. I wonder what other apps will be available for it...

I can't believe I missed the part where she demonstrates taking a picture. If MS really does plan on putting a cam in this thing, I hope they don't forget a front-facing one. MS has always been about collaboration, and really helped with the growth of cam chatting. While, in reality, cam chatting is much more functional on a laptop/desktop, it should be included if just to add versatility.

If it's not to expensive and have good battery life it sure will replace my notebooks (paper ones, not laptops) :p

just wondering, can i play music and such? third party apps?

Leonick said,
If it's not to expensive and have good battery life it sure will replace my notebooks (paper ones, not laptops) :p

just wondering, can i play music and such? third party apps?

Well, it said in one of the articles that it had a headphone jack, so music I'd say is a good guess.

As for third party apps, I haven't seen anything on this yet, but I imagine Microsoft has thought about this. Perhaps an SDK will be released for Visual Studio 2010 (Probably along with WP7 and such)... I REALLY hope so, because that could be a lot of fun to tinker with...

M_Lyons10 said,

Well, it said in one of the articles that it had a headphone jack, so music I'd say is a good guess.

As for third party apps, I haven't seen anything on this yet, but I imagine Microsoft has thought about this. Perhaps an SDK will be released for Visual Studio 2010 (Probably along with WP7 and such)... I REALLY hope so, because that could be a lot of fun to tinker with...


great :)

exactly my thoughts on the apps...

then again, i probably wont listen to much music on it as i have an iPod touch which is always with me, and that ipod can probably handle all the tasks any app on the courier can handle so if MS decide to not include that feature and instead cut the price by a 100€ or something i dont mind :P

This needs SharePoint integration, otherwise it isn't really collaboration. No way in hell am I going to publish my OneNote notebooks (or equivalent) to an internet collaboration site containing millions of dollars of my project's IP.

I always bring my laptop into meetings with OneNote opened by default. But I am still struggling to see how I would use this device as opposed to a Laptop+OneNote combo to manage my notebooks. Especially if I can type at 90WPM but can only write 20WPM.

Finally, can I use this without laying it flat on the table? The hinges need to be SOLID/RIGID so that when I attend stand-up meetings, I can still write comfortably without the other half of the device flopping wrecklessly (this is where my Laptop+OneNote is inferior).

I like the concept of turning this thing around so that one-half of the screen can be turned into a virtual keyboard and the other half is the monitor sorta like a netbook. This device has a lot of potential. We will see if the students and business moguls embrace the device the way Microsoft intended for it to be used. For consumers, this might work as an e-book reader or a really awkward netbook/pc/tablet for browsing the web and socializing.

donkeyman said,
This needs SharePoint integration, otherwise it isn't really collaboration. No way in hell am I going to publish my OneNote notebooks (or equivalent) to an internet collaboration site containing millions of dollars of my project's IP.

I always bring my laptop into meetings with OneNote opened by default. But I am still struggling to see how I would use this device as opposed to a Laptop+OneNote combo to manage my notebooks. Especially if I can type at 90WPM but can only write 20WPM.

Finally, can I use this without laying it flat on the table? The hinges need to be SOLID/RIGID so that when I attend stand-up meetings, I can still write comfortably without the other half of the device flopping wrecklessly (this is where my Laptop+OneNote is inferior).

I like the concept of turning this thing around so that one-half of the screen can be turned into a virtual keyboard and the other half is the monitor sorta like a netbook. This device has a lot of potential. We will see if the students and business moguls embrace the device the way Microsoft intended for it to be used. For consumers, this might work as an e-book reader or a really awkward netbook/pc/tablet for browsing the web and socializing.

Clearly this isnt the device for you, if you need a tool that you can do 90wpm on then this or an ipad or any tablet just isnt the device for you.

This would be handy for students, where you might annotate powerpoint slides or scribble stuff down during lectures, it would be handy for graphic artists or marketing people who usually just scribble down broad strokes when meeting with clients etc. Im sure theres plenty of other occupations or uses people could have but its not meant to replace a laptop.

donkeyman said,
This needs SharePoint integration, otherwise it isn't really collaboration. No way in hell am I going to publish my OneNote notebooks (or equivalent) to an internet collaboration site containing millions of dollars of my project's IP.

I always bring my laptop into meetings with OneNote opened by default. But I am still struggling to see how I would use this device as opposed to a Laptop+OneNote combo to manage my notebooks. Especially if I can type at 90WPM but can only write 20WPM.

Finally, can I use this without laying it flat on the table? The hinges need to be SOLID/RIGID so that when I attend stand-up meetings, I can still write comfortably without the other half of the device flopping wrecklessly (this is where my Laptop+OneNote is inferior).

I like the concept of turning this thing around so that one-half of the screen can be turned into a virtual keyboard and the other half is the monitor sorta like a netbook. This device has a lot of potential. We will see if the students and business moguls embrace the device the way Microsoft intended for it to be used. For consumers, this might work as an e-book reader or a really awkward netbook/pc/tablet for browsing the web and socializing.

You make some good points. using one of the screens as a keyboard would be nice. As would having a good hinge. I would want to use this while standing as well...

M_Lyons10 said,

You make some good points. using one of the screens as a keyboard would be nice. As would having a good hinge. I would want to use this while standing as well...

XerXis posted an address earlier to a blog by someone originally playing with the idea at Microsoft of a dual-screen tablet PDA. The similarities are striking, but the differences and his attitude are, as well.

He clearly spelled out his disdain for turning one of the screens into a keyboard. Apparently the idea was being floated with other prototypes, and he thought it was silly and wasted the whole point of having a second screen. His model instead had the 'lower' screen slide up to reveal a hardware keyboard/trackball.

I don't agree with his attitude, though. The way PDA phones today use on-screen keyboards that auto-hide when you aren't typing would take nothing away from the dual-screen experience. After all, WHILE you're typing, you aren't working on the lower screen, and any work down there wouldn't go away simply because a software keyboard popped up.

His other ideas seem to be popular with convertible netbooks, but I'm glad they aren't showing up in the Courier. Detachable screens, for one.

The postures are interesting to read about though! Battleship posture was the neatest one, in my opinion, but that seems like something that might not make it into the final.

Whoops microsoft forgot to jam huge 'metroUI' writing and blank black sections all over the screen so you can read your book in the bottom 25% of the screen.

Its interface is too confusing to the average user. How would one know to drag from the top down to show the address bar, or swipe down to switch to web. Its cool sure but way to confusing for someone new to this technology. Apple's on the other hand is pretty easy to understand and start/switch apps whereas this relies on specific swipes and gestures that no one would naturally think of.

Its cool sure, will be it be a hit? Not likely. I seriously doubt they can price this at $500 or less.

Xero said,
Its interface is too confusing to the average user. How would one know to drag from the top down to show the address bar, or swipe down to switch to web. Its cool sure but way to confusing for someone new to this technology. Apple's on the other hand is pretty easy to understand and start/switch apps whereas this relies on specific swipes and gestures that no one would naturally think of.

Its cool sure, will be it be a hit? Not likely. I seriously doubt they can price this at $500 or less.

I've got some of the same concerns. It looks innovative, I definitely see the potential for a lot of the things in this video, but it is essentially an entirely new UI paradigm. The question is whether or not people will be able to relate to it. Does flicking a contact to a map really make sense? Why is the map on the screen by default; why can't I flick the contact to that screen to view more contact details? Can I show something different from a map there? I don't know about you, but I don't use a map that often for finding my contacts.

djdanster said,
The first part kinda reminds me of MS onenote...

That's the idea. It's a device built around One Note more than anything.

*yawn* we've seen concept videos. although this looks just as cool as the other concept videos, I'm ready to see some real hands interacting with some real hardware.

Gaara sama said,
what can i say? m$ stilling the ideal from apple table , thats why i hate m$ the always copy and still from other .

ignorant.

Gaara sama said,
what can i say? m$ stilling the ideal from apple table , thats why i hate m$ the always copy and still from other .

You fail. RTFA. Courier concepts were leaking when everyone was whispering about an 'iTablet'. It's Apple that had the opportunity to take from this. Whether they did or not remains to be seen, and would be difficult to prove.

Reading your comment was roughly as enjoyable as reading Youtube comments.

Edited by Joshie, Mar 6 2010, 2:19am :

Joshie said,

You fail. RTFA. Courier concepts were leaking when everyone was whispering about an 'iTablet'. It's Apple that had the opportunity to take from this. Whether they did or not remains to be seen, and would be difficult to prove.

Reading your comment was roughly as enjoyable as reading Youtube comments.

+1

Could the ladies doing the voice over sound any less enthusiastic?

The product looks really nice though, I hope the UI is like it's demoed in the video, it looks pretty great.

Zer0day said,
Could the ladies doing the voice over sound any less enthusiastic?

The product looks really nice though, I hope the UI is like it's demoed in the video, it looks pretty great.

Remember that this isn't marketing material. You aren't going to see the kind of fervent passion necessary to breathlessly declare the product magical.

Longhorner said,
Is there any other use for this device, except viewing, organizing and customizing your ideas and inspirations???

Well just going by what can be seen of the OS, there'll be full-featured web browsing and book reading. If it shares any code with WP7, it might be able to run many of the same Silverlight apps and Xbox features. Though I haven't seen it demonstrated yet, I seriously hope this would allow turning it sideways and making the bottom screen a very workable keyboard, or--

Some very neat potential even for small things, like console emulators. Allowing the top screen to be the game output and the bottom to be MUCH more effective control input. Heck, a DS emulator on this would be...really neat. Potentially. Not a mainstream use of the product at all, but it'd still be pretty darn snazzy.

The simple fact that this is dual-screen opens it to a lot of options. While it takes away truly satisfying 'full screen' video playback (and that just might hurt this product a lot), if it allows true multitasking, you could maybe watch streaming Netflix on one screen while having the second to do whatever you feel like.

Just some thoughts. The reality of the Courier's capabilities remain to be seen, but if developers have even twice my imagination (and I'm sure most do), all we really need is a good marketing effort and really cool apps could pop up for this.

But it has two screens! Two screens will never win against one!!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go tell people why my DS is better than their PSP.

This isn't aimed to be a media device.
Therefore it's not truly competing with the iPad, which IS a media device plus more.

Binary said,
This isn't aimed to be a media device.
Therefore it's not truly competing with the iPad, which IS a media device plus more.

We don't know how it handles media, it's got a headphone jack so it will do sound, and with a tegra 2 you can do full 1080p videos as well. So unless the screen tech isn't good enough (in order to save battery power) then this can be a media device just fine.

GP007 said,

We don't know how it handles media, it's got a headphone jack so it will do sound, and with a tegra 2 you can do full 1080p videos as well. So unless the screen tech isn't good enough (in order to save battery power) then this can be a media device just fine.

Indeed. And why would they have a head phone jack if they weren't going to use it?

Rohdekill said,
I fail to understand why they can't make this with Windows 7.

They probably could. I would guess it's a design decision; MSResearch do tend to make multiple prototypes of things and I'm sure there's a prototype of Courier running around with W7 on it that probably didn't turn out to well so they went with Metro.

That's usually the approach, anyway.

Rohdekill said,
I fail to understand why they can't make this with Windows 7.

Because courier is not a PC and is not a phone, clearly. Isn't it?
Different devices for different uses. This means different os but integrating each other.

Rohdekill said,
I fail to understand why they can't make this with Windows 7.

Because Microsoft understands that a Tablet could benefit from an OS that makes use of table functions? I think it's a great idea...

Rohdekill said,
I fail to understand why they can't make this with Windows 7.

I imagine MS has really huge plans for Silverlight, and adding a successful (maybe) tablet to a successful (hopefully) mobile platform such as WP7 could really launch a culture of development for the language. Put SL in enough places, and it you increase the odds of putting it somewhere that attracts a market.

/I find it kind of interesting that MS seems to be taking on both Flash and Java simultaneously with Silverlight, but we'll see how it all turns out
//No doubt it's much faster and resource-light than either of them

Edited by Joshie, Mar 6 2010, 11:09am :

Joshie said,

I imagine MS has really huge plans for Silverlight, and adding a successful (maybe) tablet to a successful (hopefully) mobile platform such as WP7 could really launch a culture of development for the language. Put SL in enough places, and it you increase the odds of putting it somewhere that attracts a market.

/I find it kind of interesting that MS seems to be taking on both Flash and Java simultaneously with Silverlight, but we'll see how it all turns out
//No doubt it's much faster and resource-light than either of them

Yeah, I agree. Microsoft's strategy for Silverlight seems to be very solid...

Though I still think that having a desktop OS on a tablet doesn't make sense (You use them differently), I am excited to see the use of Silverlight for apps and such. I'm hoping for a good SDK for Visual Studio 2010 when that releases... :)

It looks like Microsoft is reinventing a lot of things.
This device looks interesting and innovative. I like it but I'd like to see more official material than endgadget leaks

I just don't see how you could achieve such quality without some amazing improvement in touch screen technology. We have all used touch screen, its not easy to write/create on them and get something that resembles anything close to what you get using a pen and paper.

If this works then brilliant, but seems a bit too good to be true.

Orange Battery said,
I just don't see how you could achieve such quality without some amazing improvement in touch screen technology. We have all used touch screen, its not easy to write/create on them and get something that resembles anything close to what you get using a pen and paper.

If this works then brilliant, but seems a bit too good to be true.

Exactly.

DonC said,
I have issue with a touch screen that is, presumably, capacitive and then they use a fine tipped stylus.

Exactly. You can even rest your palm ON the screen WHILE writing on it. You definitely haven't used a HP Touchsmart TM2 or another capacitive touchscreen tablet. It even has pressure sensitivity, just like real paper.

Orange Battery said,
I just don't see how you could achieve such quality without some amazing improvement in touch screen technology. We have all used touch screen, its not easy to write/create on them and get something that resembles anything close to what you get using a pen and paper.

If this works then brilliant, but seems a bit too good to be true.

These concept videos do set the bar awfully high.

Orange Battery said,
I just don't see how you could achieve such quality without some amazing improvement in touch screen technology. We have all used touch screen, its not easy to write/create on them and get something that resembles anything close to what you get using a pen and paper.

If this works then brilliant, but seems a bit too good to be true.


It would most likely be an active digitizer. They do make combination capacitive/Wacom digitizer screens, and they work great. Essentially, when you get the pen close to the screen, it would disable the touch functionality, so you don't have to worry about moving things around if you rest your palm on the screen. That's nothing new... and it works perfectly.

Orange Battery said,
I just don't see how you could achieve such quality without some amazing improvement in touch screen technology. We have all used touch screen, its not easy to write/create on them and get something that resembles anything close to what you get using a pen and paper.

If this works then brilliant, but seems a bit too good to be true.

Well, between Surface, Windows Phone 7, Project Gustave, tough support in Windows 7, etc., Microsoft has been investing pretty heavily, and has come up with some REALLY impressive touch technologies as of late... I think they could pull this off at this point... I mean Gustave is amazing...

StuRReaL said,
This type of device is something I've wanted for a long time; I'll be buying one. I do hope they make it.

I don't see why all these new pictures, yes, real pictures not 3D renders, would popup on engadgets site if it wasn't going to be made. Also why else did MS make that cross-IP deal with amazon a few weeks ago? All the dots are connecting.

GP007 said,

I don't see why all these new pictures, yes, real pictures not 3D renders, would popup on engadgets site if it wasn't going to be made. Also why else did MS make that cross-IP deal with amazon a few weeks ago? All the dots are connecting.

Yeah, it's looking more and more promising. I'm excited. :)

neoxphuse said,
If it does exactly what is described in the videos/photos, it will crush the iPad.

Honestly I just trust a tablet vision from a company that's had confidence in the market for the past decade vs. a CEO that openly mocked tablets and users of tablets on the record:

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Steve_Jobs_No_Tablet_No_PDA_No_Cell_Phone_Lots_Of_iPods/

Edited by Joshie, Mar 5 2010, 11:27pm :

Joshie said,

Honestly I just trust a tablet vision from a company that's had confidence in the market for the past decade vs. a CEO that openly mocked tablets and users of tablets on the record:

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Steve_Jobs_No_Tablet_No_PDA_No_Cell_Phone_Lots_Of_iPods/

Exactly.

I didn't know ZuneHD is based on Tegra 2

I'm not sure that this would be a direct competitor to iPad. iPad is a competitor to existing tablets and kindle devices. This looks like a powertool for the creative folks and for those that use notepads often (like heading to a meeting). I would use this as an IT pro as it would help me with my notes regarding vendors, products, configuration (wiki) etc.

It's close to competing wth iPad, but not quite... anyone else feel like that?

majg said,
I didn't know ZuneHD is based on Tegra 2

I'm not sure that this would be a direct competitor to iPad. iPad is a competitor to existing tablets and kindle devices. This looks like a powertool for the creative folks and for those that use notepads often (like heading to a meeting). I would use this as an IT pro as it would help me with my notes regarding vendors, products, configuration (wiki) etc.

It's close to competing wth iPad, but not quite... anyone else feel like that?

Why do you think MS struck a IP deal with Amazon a week or two ago which covered the kindle as well? This thing will be a reader as well as a replacement for paper notebooks.

GP007 said,

Why do you think MS struck a IP deal with Amazon a week or two ago which covered the kindle as well? This thing will be a reader as well as a replacement for paper notebooks.

Yeah, when that was announced I suspected that had something to do with this... I hope that's the case. Though eBooks don't interest me, but a lot of people would make use of such a feature.

dimithrak said,
who needs an iPad when this REINVENTS EVERYTHING! . If this comes out. I is getting one!

Me too. I hope it's affordable... Though I was also hoping for it to be a bit larger...

M_Lyons10 said,

Me too. I hope it's affordable... Though I was also hoping for it to be a bit larger...

If it does come out I think MS won't stick to one size. Depending on the price they want to target there could be a bigger one. It all depends on demand more than anything.

I guess it's for better that it runs custom operating system. and at least it doesn't look like oversized smartphone

Ñ….iso said,
I guess it's for better that it runs custom operating system. and at least it doesn't look like oversized smartphone

You -do- know what OS this thing runs, right?

Serenity76 said,

You -do- know what OS this thing runs, right?

Do you know what it's running? Last I read it's NOT the full version of Windows 7.

GP007 said,

Do you know what it's running? Last I read it's NOT the full version of Windows 7.

Yeah, it's based on Windows CE, much like the Zune OS, and every massively-successful Windows Mobile product out there.

Serenity76 said,

Yeah, it's based on Windows CE, much like the Zune OS, and every massively-successful Windows Mobile product out there.

Windows CE is used alot in quite a number of devices, so yes, it is very successful indeed.

Serenity76 said,

Yeah, it's based on Windows CE, much like the Zune OS, and every massively-successful Windows Mobile product out there.

and several succesfull embedded products like POS systems, banking systems, automobile electronics. But why aim I even replying, you're obviously trolling

Serenity76 said,

Yeah, it's based on Windows CE, much like the Zune OS, and every massively-successful Windows Mobile product out there.


It's weird to hear someone bash Windows CE when the Apple fanatics tended to be the same people who lamented the demise of the Sega Dreamcast.

Serenity76 said,

You -do- know what OS this thing runs, right?


and when did I said I know? as article says it's not full desktop OS like Windows 7 but mobile like Zune HD or WP7 series instead, so that means it's mobile OS obviously customized for Courier or series of devices like Courier.

Serenity76 said,

Yeah, it's based on Windows CE, much like the Zune OS, and every massively-successful Windows Mobile product out there.

I've played with WP7S and it is amazing. There are a lot of people out there who have played with it and none of them have anything but stellar reviews; similar to your attitude up there how about you ('we') keep our mouths shut until its out and we've played with it before talking about it either way.

Horrible troll is horrible :<

GP007 said,

Do you know what it's running? Last I read it's NOT the full version of Windows 7.

I hear that it is Windows7, but based on the embedded version. It would explain the inherent handwriting technology that is OK on WinCE, but virtually perfrect on Win7.

If it does end up being WinCE then WinCE has some tricks up its sleeve with regard to handwriting technologies that are not in the current versions.

This is very nice I like how Microsoft is really targeting businesses with the video. If I was a business kind of person this would definitely be a must for me. Let the battle begin tablets lol.

This would be great for school and uni, hopefully Microsoft release it sooner rather then later and truly restart the tablet pc market!

CarlJ said,
This would be great for school and uni

Seriously, and not just because a clam shell form-factor means built-in screen protection.

/I know, I know, I'm always talking about screen protection, but with the direction touch has taken, I pamper the damn things. :x

Joshie said,

Seriously, and not just because a clam shell form-factor means built-in screen protection.

/I know, I know, I'm always talking about screen protection, but with the direction touch has taken, I pamper the damn things. :x

Oh I feel the same way. I like that as well (Though I kind of expected it to be a bit larger...)

This does look very good, a hell of a lot more innovative than a certain companies other product....

Dead'Soul said,
new video? old

Actually its the same video with new clips.

Edited by SoyoS, Mar 5 2010, 9:35pm :