Microsoft shuts down Pioneer Studios unit

A unit of Microsoft launched three years ago to develop new consumer electronics product ideas has been shut down. CNet is reporting that Pioneer Studios, based in downtown Seattle, has been closed with many of its team members leaving the company entirely while others have moved onto other Microsoft project teams. The unit itself was first lead by J Allard who left Microsoft in 2010.

The Pioneer Studios unit was created to come up with ideas and concepts for new electronic devices. One of the most high profile ideas was the Courier tablet which had a dual screen design. Despite a lot of pre-production buzz about the tablet on the Internet, Microsoft decided not to go ahead with the Courier. CNet said that Pioneer Studios also worked on ideas for the Xbox console, the Zune media device and Windows Phone 7. It also worked on the Kin phone concept which Microsoft quickly shut down just two months after it was first launched in 2010.

The idea behind Pioneer Studios was to create ideas and concepts without the heavy bureaucracy that would normally be involved in a Microsoft project. Even the office space for Pioneer Studios in Seattle was different than the norm for the company. CNet states said the Pioneer Studios office had "huge open spaces, dotted with cushy Eames lounge chairs, angular white desks, blond wood floors, and exposed brick walls."

The shutdown of Pioneer Studios represents the finale of J Allard's time at Microsoft. He gained fame as one of the leaders behind the successful launch of the original Xbox game console. However, his reputation stumbled when he left the Xbox team to head up the Zune division.

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