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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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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
quote:
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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=049_U-0C9qU


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.


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton














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