Calling this news might be a stretch, but Microsoft axed in-house support for the Courier tablet that generated a swarm of intrigue and speculation a few months back.
In the Fall of 2009, a number of concept sketches and videos of Microsoft Courier sprung up on the web. As a quick refresher, the Courier notebook consisted of two 7-inch tablets joined together to form what was essentially a booklet. Both screens were capable of recognizing multitouch input along with input from a stylus. Mockup demos of the device in action, however, revealed an inconsistent user interface without much utility to speak of – unless, of course, you happened to be a Nike shoe designer.
This past Wednesday, sources told Gizmodo that Microsoft executives contacted the Courier team and told them that support for the project would be coming to an end. When asked to comment, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw stated:
At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It’s in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.
Gizmodo called the device “one of the most innovative concepts out of Redmond in quite some time” but in reality even the mockups were pretty uninspiring. If there were anything truly innovative about Courier, Microsoft would have continued throwing money at it much in the way that it does with the Zune and Xbox.
As far as we can tell, Microsoft astutely realized that the Courier project was destined to be a dud. They’d be better served by focusing on the problems that plague their current lineup of products and software than on developing a new product that no one wants.