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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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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.)


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation














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