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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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.

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

*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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

M_Lyons10 said,
This looks really quite cool. I definitely want one, so I hope they're reasonably priced. I only have 2 critiques...

1) I wish the stylus fit inside the unit somewhere...
2) I was hoping this would be a little larger. Like portfolio size... Maybe a little smaller...

As for wish lists...
1) Removable media (SD Card?)...
2) The ability to make PowerPoint presentations...
3) The ability to edit and revise Office documents...

The size stood out to me as well. I wasn't expecting something so compact. Granted, if this really goes to market, and if it does reasonably well, Microsoft would have every reason to make a larger follow-up model.

I originally thought the stylus would slide into a slot somewhere like most PDAs or the Nintendo DS. But it seems like MS really wants something with a pen's thickness, and that wouldn't work in the middle if that non-screen portion has touch sensitivity like it seems to (several times in the video she clearly drags from one screen to the next without lifting her CG finger). But your point is extremely valid and I'm sure it's something that's come up and will be part of design tests.

I think removable media is a no-brainer here simply based on the impression that this is an extension of their new mobile OS. If WP7 phones (crap, that felt like saying ATM machine) demonstrate any effective use of microSD, and they want any of the new Silverlight libraries to work across platforms, it would just plain make life easier to include a port.

Also, I think they mentioned the ability to edit Office documents in WP7, so your wish just might come true.

My own wish list? Er......a leather bound edition. :] I would just die.

Joshie said,

The size stood out to me as well. I wasn't expecting something so compact. Granted, if this really goes to market, and if it does reasonably well, Microsoft would have every reason to make a larger follow-up model.

I originally thought the stylus would slide into a slot somewhere like most PDAs or the Nintendo DS. But it seems like MS really wants something with a pen's thickness, and that wouldn't work in the middle if that non-screen portion has touch sensitivity like it seems to (several times in the video she clearly drags from one screen to the next without lifting her CG finger). But your point is extremely valid and I'm sure it's something that's come up and will be part of design tests.

I think removable media is a no-brainer here simply based on the impression that this is an extension of their new mobile OS. If WP7 phones (crap, that felt like saying ATM machine) demonstrate any effective use of microSD, and they want any of the new Silverlight libraries to work across platforms, it would just plain make life easier to include a port.

Also, I think they mentioned the ability to edit Office documents in WP7, so your wish just might come true.

My own wish list? Er......a leather bound edition. :] I would just die.

Very good post, and I hope that this works out for both of us. LOL And yes, a leather bound edition would be pretty nice. Right now I have several journals that I use to rough out various projects and ideas. I would be THRILLED to get rid of those and just have multiple "journals" in my Courier... I just really do hope that they have a built in enclosure for the stylus. I can understand your point, and it may be a technical limitation, but I really don't want to lose that thing... :-\

Also, I was taking another look at the one video on engadget, and they have some rather involved painting tools... Perhaps some of project Gustave is already working its way in to projects?

Oh, also, I wanted to add to my list...
4) A good SDK (WP7 / Zune / Courier) with good controls and the ability to develop software for the Courier in Visual Studio... This is really a no brainer, but I haven't heard much on a new SDK for WP7, so I will continue to bring it up, as they would likely be inter-related...

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

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.

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...

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