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Microsoft is looking to beat Apple to the touch-tablet PC market with a multitouch bi-tablet. With 7" multitouch screens the product will also likely serve as a high-end competitor to netbooks and e-book readers.  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)

  (Source: Gizmodo)
Microsoft will soon be expanding its hardware offerings with a tablet release

Microsoft dropped a blockbuster product announcement yesterday via Gizmodo.  After months of Apple-tablet rumors, including word that Steve Jobs himself is masterminding the device, it is Apple's competitor Microsoft that has stolen the spotlight with the announcement of an upcoming touchscreen ultra-mobile device.

The new device was developed with positively Apple-like secrecy.  Only a handful of engineers worked on or were aware of the device, whose development was led by Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience chief J. Allard.  The device is almost finished, with Microsoft currently refining the user interface experience of the "late prototype" and showing it to outside agencies.

The "Courier" touchscreen prototype features a book-like design with two 7" screens -- kind of like a jumbo Nintendo DSi.  Both screens support multitouch, and you can write with either your fingers or a stylus.  The UI features traditional multitouch flair like flick gestures to trigger actions.  The GUI has battery and wireless signal indicators by the rim of one of the screens, keeping them unobtrusive.  A particularly slick aspect of the UI is that images can be moved to the hinge "pocket" to transfer them between screens with ease.

The device also features a built-in camera on its back.  As no wires were seen, its rumored to charge using induction, somewhat like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for the Pre smart phone.  Overall the device is smaller (7" vs. 10") than the expected Apple device, but features a very slick and chic look.  Expect the device to potentially take on e-book readers like the Kindle as well, as its interface seems perfect for reading on the go.

As with the Zune and Xbox before it, the Courier seems to be advancing rapidly through the phase of Microsoft seeking outside help to round of the device's features, software, and to develop service packages for it.

More details are forthcoming on the product.  It seems that with the release of the much-anticipated Zune HD, Microsoft's hardware division is eager to keep on a roll.

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My dream mobile machine?
By PsychoPif on 9/23/2009 9:52:15 AM , Rating: 5
I don't want to jump to conclusion just yet, but it look a lot like everything I need on the mobile side of computer.

It will all depends on battery life, price and features, but I'm pretty sure MS is aware that they need some good stuff to beat Apple rep and hardware.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By inighthawki on 9/23/2009 9:56:46 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed, this looks like it can be very practical, and has quite a few different applications. Besides the basic computing applications, it can be used as quite an excellent virtual notebook with essentially endless pages. Imagine the usefulness for students (then of course think how unproductive itll be, being a computer and all). Still will be nice to see how it turns out and what the battery life will be.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By AnnihilatorX on 9/25/2009 6:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
I have been using tablet PCs as a student for 4 years. It formed an indispensable way of life for me personally as I hate paper documents. I have lecture notes scanned and annotated with handwriting using Microsoft Office OneNote. I have kept 4 years worth of material in a 1kg Tablet PC.

However, I had to personally digitize much of the lecture notes myself as quite a large portion of lecturers does not issue online lecture notes, due to fear of students not coming to lectures.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By FITCamaro on 9/23/2009 10:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
This needs to be paired with really good ebook software. It'd be great if the makers of Kindle would license their software to Microsoft.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 2:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can count on it. Amazon (the maker of the Kindle) is in the business of selling books, not hardware.

Kindle has already released software for the iPhone stating this as a fact.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By hadifa on 9/23/2009 7:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
What I was thinking was that one of the screens should have been eInk. Think about it. It can be used for reading books using low batery when the other screen is off. It can be the keyboard screen, the touch pad where you can use the other screen as the main screen and so on.

This would improve battery life and IMHO usefulness of the product overall.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 7:23:32 PM , Rating: 3

I love the eInk technology and it does have its uses.

However, in this case I think that the limitations of eInk would out weigh the advantages (namely low power consumption.) If this device uses OLED screens, the battery life should still be quite good (but will be more expensive.) And will be a far more capable device.

eInk is currently monochrome, and has very slow refresh rates; both problems would greatly diminish the utility of a device such as this.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By afkrotch on 9/24/2009 2:28:01 AM , Rating: 2
Fujitsu Flepia. Color ebook using eInk. Still has slow refresh rates, but is in color.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By bubbastrangelove on 9/23/09, Rating: -1
By bubbastrangelove on 9/23/2009 12:50:28 PM , Rating: 3
OK, I skimmed the article and missed the touch and stylus - mod me down - I deserve it dammit!

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By omnicronx on 9/23/2009 1:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
I would not be too worried about battery life, unlike their OS ventures, they actually make the hardware this time around, and it is exponentially easier to squeeze the most out of a device that you control. Just ask Apple, its not like they know something MS doesnt, its just the advantage of making your own hardware.

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By koenshaku on 9/24/2009 2:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
Has anyone checked the video of use for this thing yet!?!? This is tech porn! I am getting one of these soon as it hits bravo MS!

RE: My dream mobile machine?
By rippleyaliens on 9/25/2009 3:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Technology is growing at an exponential rate

Not to knock it but...
By guy007 on 9/23/2009 3:18:55 PM , Rating: 1
let me preface this by saying I am not an apple fan. I hate the smugness of it all. My desktop is a PC I built, my laptop was made by me. one runs vista the other xp. I do have to say that form does appear to be pretty important (as witnessed by apple's success) and it seems like ppl on the PC side (my side) haven't started to get it. The iphone/ipod touch look cool and have a slick UI (give credit where it's due) and I think a 10-12' tablet would be very practical and have a pretty cool gadget factor to it.

I don't know what ms is thinking with dual 7' screens that look like they are in a leather portfolio I could see my grandpa carrying around. Aside from the aesthetics of it the whole problem with the 7' eee's and other netbooks is the lack of screen real estate. That's why there's a trend in netbooks to move to 12' or to up the resolution. Now microsoft has got the cool UI, with the gestures and multitouch but the design looks like crap and the 2X 7' screens really disappoint. I love the idea of a thin single screen tablet that i could slip in my bag. I would hate to have to buy an apple with OSX to get that :(

RE: Not to knock it but...
By Pirks on 9/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Not to knock it but...
By guy007 on 9/23/2009 4:27:58 PM , Rating: 4
ram, cpu hdd, dvd burner and heatsink fan. im not saying it's much im just saying what i did. what do you think you do when you build a desktop? you want me to design the mb and solder on the resistors? i think what i did was about as much laptop building as one can do.

RE: Not to knock it but...
By Pirks on 9/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Not to knock it but...
By guy007 on 9/23/2009 7:10:17 PM , Rating: 5
you don't even know what i made. you sound arrogant and ignorant.

RE: Not to knock it but...
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 7:18:15 PM , Rating: 5
Guy007 meet Pirks.

Pirks is like that. You'll get used to it.

RE: Not to knock it but...
By Pirks on 9/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Not to knock it but...
By afkrotch on 9/24/2009 2:34:50 AM , Rating: 2
I'm with Pirks on this one. I've done the research for DIY laptops and they simply offer less for more money.

There's a reason why the DIY market has died out.

RE: Not to knock it but...
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 4:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
One of the biggest problems with the tablet form factor is portability and protection of the screen from damage. Using two 7" screens allows the unit to be folded into a small protected form factor that can still be opened to provide a great deal of screen real-estate.

Personally I think that the design is brilliant, it will just require a little more creativity when designing applications to take advantage of the dual touchscreens.

(The smaller touchscreens are also most likely far cheaper than a single screen of twice the size and resolution.)

RE: Not to knock it but...
By sprockkets on 9/23/2009 4:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
let me preface this by saying I am not an apple fan. I hate the smugness of it all. My desktop is a PC I built, my laptop was made by me. one runs vista the other xp. I do have to say that form does appear to be pretty important (as witnessed by apple's success) and it seems like ppl on the PC side (my side) haven't started to get it. The iphone/ipod touch look cool and have a slick UI (give credit where it's due) and I think a 10-12' tablet would be very practical and have a pretty cool gadget factor to it.

I agree, I hate the Apple smugness, but nowadays with Apple selling ipods and iphones, the majority of those people aren't smug. In fact, I am very surprised to see people buy an iphone who find it easy to use, while at the same time take forever to use anything on a normal computer.

Did you use an Asus pre built laptop? I have in the past, but seeing as how it costs almost a grand to make one, and the chassis is mostly if not all plastic, I find them to be not worth it at all.

I remember when the iphone came out, and how everyone here asked Anand, "Is the UI really that fluid and animated" because it was too good to be true.

I thought this video was a joke, but it was the prototype before Courier. Some cynically say this is actually where it really is in terms of development:

RE: Not to knock it but...
By Keeir on 9/23/2009 7:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Man, there is no pleasing some people...

2 x 7" screens approx equal 1 10" screen in terms of pixels... since they fold, the overall size will likely be around 50% of a 10" netbook and the most important part, be -alot- more durable than a single thin "open face" design. Properly designed, this device could be simpler to a DS... which is alot more sturdy than an Iphone

I agree on the fake leather, however, thats one of the easiest things in the world for there to be variance on... just have a different plastic stamping machine... I can't imagine microsoft rolling with that as the principle design.

Hey Apple!
By iFX on 9/23/2009 10:24:47 AM , Rating: 4
How ya like them apples?

RE: Hey Apple!
By FITCamaro on 9/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Hey Apple!
By Pirks on 9/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Hey Apple!
By guy007 on 9/23/2009 4:29:55 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Hey Apple!
By Pirks on 9/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Hey Apple!
By Oralen on 9/24/2009 10:08:19 AM , Rating: 2
You fail to see the point.

People are not downrating you just because they think you are wrong.

They are killing every comment you make because you have consistently behaved like a d*ck, and because they don't want to hear you anymore, right OR wrong.

If you want to change that, you should:

a) apologize to all those you have insulted.
b) think before you post, and stop attacking people like they've hit you, just because you have different opinions.


c) stop posting.

RE: Hey Apple!
By Pirks on 9/24/2009 7:49:07 PM , Rating: 1
I'll do that only after wintrolls like chicko, ambulance and potato apologize first, which means never :P hahaha

Copy cat!
By Smilin on 9/23/2009 12:21:48 PM , Rating: 2
Of course as soon as apple releases whatever they are going to release everyone will swoon about how they innovate and how Microsoft just copies (nevermind that they've been working on tablets and multitouch for years now)

RE: Copy cat!
By damianrobertjones on 9/23/2009 2:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
True, true. I've currently got an Asus R2h for my tablet (ish) needs.

This is just a cartoon
By Tony Swash on 9/23/2009 12:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
Am I missing something? All I see is a cartoon not a product. If you ask me if I think the replicator from Start Trek would be a great thing to have I would say yes but its not real. Neither is this. Microsoft has a history of coming out with concepts and prototypes and mock ups for products that either never see the light of day or never existed in the first place. Lets wait and see what Redmond actually delivers.

RE: This is just a cartoon
By Nekrik on 9/23/2009 1:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
Good idea, why not wait and see rather than start the anti-hype already? MS has been doing pretty good lately and many people are beginning to give them another chance. They're in a much better position to offer and all around connected exerience than anyone - Zune, Win7, Win Home Server, the 360, this new entry - all make for a pretty compelling setup in my mind.

Pretty nifty
By glenn8 on 9/23/2009 9:44:54 AM , Rating: 2
Looks good so far. You can probably turn it sideways as well and use the bottom screen as a keyboard or sorts. I've had the idea for this sort a device for a while (and probably most people did). Of course it all comes down to price...

By SilthDraeth on 9/23/2009 10:32:30 AM , Rating: 2
I like.

By damianrobertjones on 9/23/2009 11:51:24 AM , Rating: 2
It would look better with round edges facing (on top) in and facing Up (bottom) like a HP 2133 etc. Other than that, I'm pretty happy about it.

Imagine opening a folder of images, say, Transformers comic scans and literally using your finger to 'turn' over the pages as it would automatically show image1 on the left and image 2 on the right. Flick with your finger, next pages.

Oh yes. I expect the apple device to 'look' very nice and something like this 'might' take something away from that 'look'.

Furthermore... ohhhh, browsing the web on one screen and watching a video on the other.

Looks like the guide...
By sdoorex on 9/23/2009 12:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing missing from this unit is "Don't Panic" on the back in big, yellow letters.

Thank you Microsoft!
By lightfoot on 9/23/2009 2:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
I was really worried that if Apple was to release a multi-touch tablet that I was going to have to buy it. Thankfully Microsoft has presented us with an alternative that should work quite well. Better even than what I expected of Apple.

So long as this isn't priced over $1,000 it will be mine...

I just hope that it will be compatible with the Zune Marketplace.

perfect for ds emulator
By riottime on 9/24/2009 12:44:41 PM , Rating: 2 cool would this be to play ds games on? it's like a ds with bigger screens. of course, the pixelation would be horrendous.

Hey Look at me
By hiscross on 9/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Hey Look at me
By guy007 on 9/23/2009 4:22:21 PM , Rating: 1
exactly, why make something so ugly when obviously sleekness does matter

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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