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Courier, we hardly knew ye

In what is likely a knife through the heart for a lot of tech enthusiasts out there, Gizmodo is reporting that Microsoft has killed plans for its Courier tablet. We first caught wind of Courier back in September of 2009 and were quickly intrigued by its innovative user interface and dual-display "book" layout.

It should be noted that Microsoft never officially announced that it would build Courier or said that the tablet was anything more than a extremely promising design concept. So it shouldn't be too surprising that we won't see a finished product on store shelves.

Apparently, Microsoft has more pressing projects on its mind (namely, getting Windows Phone 7 out the door on schedule). Gizmodo received the following statement from Microsoft's Frank Shaw on the cancellation of the Courier program:

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.

With Microsoft seemingly out of the "slimmed-down OS" tablet market, Apple is left to take on all rivals with its iPad. Google is working on an Android-based tablet of its own, and we know that HP is going to milk its purchase of Palm for all it's worth and develop a tablet running webOS.



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Was never a real product
By Spivonious on 4/29/2010 4:56:45 PM , Rating: 3
Courier was always just an experiment, it was never planned to be an actual retail product.




RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 5:05:02 PM , Rating: 1
One could say that the iPad was also just an experiment. It is possible that Microsoft simply looked at the evolving tablet market and decided that there is simply no profit to be made in hardware. Microsoft should focus on Windows 7 and make it the OS of choice for all tablets. Thankfully Apple set the OS bar very low on their tablet; beating them should be a breeze.


RE: Was never a real product
By Spivonious on 4/29/2010 5:14:40 PM , Rating: 5
No, iPad was designed to be a consumer product from day one. The Courier was not like some concept car that got cancelled; it was more like a university making an electric car for a thesis project.

I do agree with you that MS should go back to their roots and focus on software.


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Was never a real product
By Proxes on 4/29/2010 5:42:57 PM , Rating: 5
The Apple name is the only reason the iPad was successful. If any other company released the device it wouldn't sell.

The iLemmings will make everything Apple does successful.


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 5:50:53 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The Apple name is the only reason the iPad was successful.

Possible - but it was executed fairly well. I almost considered buying one myself, until I learned all the things it couldn't do.

For years I've wanted a tablet computer (too much Star Trek I guess) but have never found a device that fit what I was looking for. The iPad is VERY close, but I'll probably give it another year or so before jumping into the market.

My biggest criteria is that it must replace my other computers. The iPad can't (yet) do that.


RE: Was never a real product
By MadMan007 on 4/29/2010 6:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
What you want exists in the form of convertible tablets (OK, they can't replace high powered desktops...) you just have to pay up for it.


RE: Was never a real product
By themaster08 on 4/30/2010 2:27:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Possible - but it was executed fairly well. I almost considered buying one myself, until I learned all the things it couldn't do.

You see, that's the thing. Because the blind masses don't learn what it can't do, they just go ahead and buy one anyway. It doesn't matter to them, as long as their self-consciousness is portrayed as less fallible by their peers. If it was any other compny, it would be the downsides that the media point out most.

Take for example Microsoft's new mobile OS. Most of the media attention surrounding the new OS is based around its shortcomings, yet very little in comparison is said on what it can actually do.

I guess because it looks pretty then that's enough to buy it. Shallow-minded devices for shallow-minded thinkers. That's all Apple does well.


RE: Was never a real product
By robinthakur on 4/30/2010 9:38:40 AM , Rating: 1
Wow, bitchy geeks out of touch with reality, that's novel...Whilst this should be obvious to most people above the age of 12 it does bear saying. Basically Apple knows its market and the iPad is a different device to a netbook, traditional tablet pc etc in that it is deliberately limited, and used a sandboxed OS built from the ground up foor a multi-touch system, and this is seen as a very GOOD thing to the typical person it is targeted at. This person wants an appliance that can safely browse the internet, view photos/books, check mail etc. which always just works, battery life allowing. This is what sells because people want it. The easiest way to do that is to have a proprietary OS which is very locked down and restrictions on what can be installed on it.

Now that doesn't make them blind masses, as you condescendingly say, that just means that they are using the device as a means to an end (as a tool) and not getting hung up on whether they can jailbreak it or install the latest Android/Ubuntu Kernel etc. on it. Most people in this world, I would think, do not buy laptops, phones or really any tech so that other people will see their "self-consciousness as less fallible" what a weird world you live in...they presumably use them for a purpose and have lives.

You say that you champion positivity in terms of what's reported on what Microsoft's mobile OS 7 can do. What can it do that its competitors cannot? In contrast to this fact, note that by the time it is released it won't have multi-tasking or external Flash support, which actually is a pretty major deal as this is what has historically differentiated Apple's devices from the competition.

Obviously a closed off sandboxed OS is not for everybody. Apple positions its products ignoring the existence of its competitors nearly completely. If its not for you then buy something else!

Obviously HP and MS have decided that the critical reaction and sales interest in its Courier and Slate POC just weren't there and have canned the projects for business reasons. No sane company simply releases tech because it looks cool, and has a high technical spec anymore, it needs to sell. With the global success of the iPhone lineage and iPod etc as well as the growing Mac sales, people are more familiar with and have certain expectations when it comes to touch screen devices and User interface design, which perhaps Windows 7 (great as it is as a desktop OS) cannot match in a portable touch screen format only device. Therefore its not really a case of "Shallow-minded devices for Shallow-minded thinkers" its the needs of the many vs the needs of the few.


RE: Was never a real product
By reader1 on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Was never a real product
By StevoLincolnite on 4/30/2010 12:58:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If Apple doesn't have any talent and they're kicking the crap out of everyone, that means their competitors are even more incompetent.


All to often I see a company release only an "Average" at best product or service, yet it's the best seller.

Why you might ask?

Simple...

People believe what they see on the TV/Radio/Newspaper/Magazines and other media on how good a device is.

Take Intel and the Pentium 4 as an example, they had a slower, more power hungry and heat producing product than the competition, yet they still sold several multiples more processors than AMD.

So I wouldn't call the competitors incompetent, more often than not it's the consumer not researching or not knowing of alternatives.


RE: Was never a real product
By robinthakur on 4/30/2010 9:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
Well I would agree with some of what you say, but in reality, the same tools available to Apple are available to all companies that release a product. Namely PR, marketing, decent design, polish and proper market segmentation. The devices that fail to sell like Asus's/Arcos' tablets, everybody else's MP3 players fail for reasons (Poor reviews Cluttered Layout, bad software, little to no marketing resulting in zero brand awareness and trust or non existent support) They might not be able to spend as much as Apple on those things, but if a product is good and people know about it, it will sell. The concept that people believe what they see, hear or read is not a new one...and shouldn't really surprise anyone should it?

People tend to value reccomendation of friends family etc. higher than what the manufacturer says at the end of the day, despite what Apple-haters might suppose, so Apple's position as being the most respected brand amongst the buying public has been earned over many years, and not just given to them on a platter.

For the record I went with AMD around the time with the Pentium 4 and only came back to Intel once the Core was released, no brand loyalty here!


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/30/2010 11:48:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple's position as being the most respected brand amongst the buying public has been earned over many years

Earned in the same way that politicians earn their respect. Through a concerted marketing campaign of lies, misinformation, and half-truths.

Mud-slinging works as well in marketing as it does in politics.


RE: Was never a real product
By ImSpartacus on 4/29/2010 7:34:38 PM , Rating: 3
I agree Apple rarely innovates, and when they genuinely do (Apple TV, iPad) it doesn't always work out well.

However, when Apple releases a product, it's almost always very polished.

Take everyone's favorite iPad for example. The touch software on the iPad is absolutely phenomenal. The battery life is fantastic. The overall package seems very polished. I cannot say the same for the current crop of tablets.

But does exceptional polish make the core usage worth while? Not always. That's where I think Apple has faltered. The iPad looks pretty and works well, but it doesn't really do anything.


RE: Was never a real product
By kmmatney on 4/30/2010 5:17:50 PM , Rating: 2
I;'m not sure the iPad needs to do much. Its a data consuming device, rather than a data creation device. You can browse the web, email, read e-books, wtach a movie, text, play music, play games, learn a new language (theres an App for that), while sitting on an arm chair in the living room. For most people, the iPad does "enough". It won't replace a real computer, but it can sure make you use a real computer a lot less.


RE: Was never a real product
By adiposity on 4/29/2010 5:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well, so were the other two iterations of the iPad that never got released.

But yeah, Apple was always planning to release an iPad eventually, they just kept canceling the project and bringing it back.


RE: Was never a real product
By mellomonk on 4/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 7:35:24 PM , Rating: 5
It's just too bad that the iPad can't work with most devices on the planet. Digital Camera? Sorry. Printer? Try again. External Harddrive? Nope. Optical drive to watch movies or install software? Ha! You'd think that Apple had never heard of USB.

As a consumer, if I have to have another computer with a full operating system to manage my tablet, then the tablet is of no use to me. I want the tablet to work with all the devices that I already own. That requires drivers and a (mostly) full OS.


RE: Was never a real product
By robinthakur on 4/30/2010 10:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see why you would need another ccomputer for most tasks bar upgrading it. You can buy music through the iTunes store, buy books through the bookstore, buy apps through the appstore and browse the web. This does not suit most people on Dailytech (including me), but to say that the device is useless without a full pc is not altogether true. The genuine limitations you describe do not appear to be affecting the sales thus far, which says a lot about the way that most people intend to use it.


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/30/2010 12:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The genuine limitations you describe do not appear to be affecting the sales thus far, which says a lot about the way that most people intend to use it.

Or most people don't realize the limitations until after they have purchased the device. This might explain the relatively high amount of buyer's remorse and the number of returns.


RE: Was never a real product
By kmmatney on 4/30/2010 5:40:36 PM , Rating: 2
Appraently Apple is working on printing support, as well as a lot of other features.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/01/29/appl...

There are some third party printing apps as well. The Ipod touch and iPhone can print using WEprint, so I would think the iPad could as well. It would be useful to be able to print out webpages or a map.


RE: Was never a real product
By Tony Swash on 4/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 7:45:33 PM , Rating: 4
Beating Apple in sales numbers for a single device? You're right. Creating a platform that out performs Apple's toy and selling it on numerous hardware platforms? I think Microsoft has a very good chance, and so does Google.

Apple's iPhone OS is defined not by what it can do, but by what it can't.

And you forget that the Courier was actually demoed well before any the iPad was ever shown to the public. Yes, Apple got to market, but there was a time (about 4 months ago) when they were both vaporware.


RE: Was never a real product
By reader1 on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Was never a real product
By Bateluer on 4/30/2010 12:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
A worthless piece of shit with a multi-billion dollar net worth to your $2.50 net worth. :p


RE: Was never a real product
By robinthakur on 4/30/2010 10:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes but the iPad or rather an Apple Tablet device has literally been worked on for years and years by Apple and rumoured about for considerably longer. I remember reading back in 2005 that Apple were working on a tablet PC! I suspect that it never really got going in its current form until the success of the iPhone's touch technology and even Apple appear to have been quite conservative in what they pack into the device to keep the price down (for them)

As far as creating a tablet platform to comete with Apple, Google stands a very good chance, HP a moderately good chance thanks to their acquisition of WebOS and Microsoft no chance (zero). I love Microsoft for what they do well, but Tablet PC's running Windows in their most recent forms are not one of them for 99% of the buying public. Heavy, imprecise, bloated and expensive, its no wonder they haven't taken off in the decade they have been available.

Using my iPhone every day i'm not aware of annything realistic it can't do beyond full multi-tasking (currently) care to enlighten me? The fact that I don't particularly miss Flash shows that actually its not all that important when browsing the web for the majority of sites and certainly there should always be a non flash version of a site available for accessibility purposes anyway, its just good design.

To coin an oft-used term used about microsoft, the closed nature of the iPhone OS and the Appstore is seen a feature and not a bug by most people other than the techie chatterers types. The usability and smoothness of the iPhone OS is unmatched currently (android is closing the gap though) so I think that's what its most known for actually...or have you forgotten what phones were like before the iPhone came out? If you want a reminder try using a recent Nokia ;p


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/30/2010 12:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
I remember what phones could do before the iPhone came out. Can you?

Blackberries could sync email (using Push too!)

They could Cut & Paste text.

They could play multiple media formats.

They had custom wallpapers and ringtones.

They could send SMS and MMS text messages!

They had expandable memory.

They had batteries that you could replace.

They could make phone calls.

They were affordable.

Admittedly the iPhone has resolved all but the last four of these issues, but even so there are significant things that the phone still can't do. And these limitations are what kept people away from the phone.


RE: Was never a real product
By kmmatney on 4/30/2010 5:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
The Blackberry sucked for browsing the web. All phones sucked at browsing the web before the iPhone, and not many phones had wifi either.

When I needed a new work phone over a year ago, I tried numberous Blackberry models at the store, but they just weren't as useful as the iPhone, so I made the switch and have been happy ever since. I liked the phone so much that I refused to take a re-imbursement for it, as I want to keep the phone if I ever change jobs. I would have never done that with a Blackberry.


By Friendly0Fire on 5/3/2010 1:15:44 AM , Rating: 2
You forgot another extremely advanced and complex technology, one whose conception has long since been forgotten: tactile feedback, or as you might have otherwise known it: buttons. You know, things you could press and feel like you were actually pressing something?


RE: Was never a real product
By GoodBytes on 4/29/2010 5:08:33 PM , Rating: 1
Same for Microsoft surface.. and surprise, because someone on top of management was interested in it.. we have it (in Microsoft stores, and ultra fancy overpriced commercial areas... but we have it!)

Hopefully the Courier would have the same fate but this one sold world wide with advertisement(unlike the Zune HD).

I find it shameful that Microsoft has all these amazing ideas.. but doesn't decide to release any of them. Maybe, Microsoft got scared by the bad adoption of the Apple iPad (please note that there is one thing buying one.. and another actually use it at a long term, to a point of buying the newer version when it comes out).


RE: Was never a real product
By Spivonious on 4/29/2010 5:16:12 PM , Rating: 1
I would love it if Surface came down in cost and was built into coffee tables, kitchen counters, etc.


RE: Was never a real product
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 5:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...and was built into coffee tables, kitchen counters, etc.

As long as it is upgradeable. I don't want to have to replace my whole kitchen counter every 18-24 months.


RE: Was never a real product
By monkeyman1140 on 4/30/2010 1:15:30 AM , Rating: 2
Just duct tape an ipad to your coffee table.


RE: Was never a real product
By reader1 on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Was never a real product
By Alexstarfire on 4/29/2010 8:28:18 PM , Rating: 4
I think you don't understand styluses (sp?) and why folding a tablet is useful. I can't say for sure with the courier device, but a stylus doesn't have to work the same way your hand does. IDK if you remember, since you have poor memory obviously, but PDAs for a long time used stylus as the only input method. Using your fingers was out of the question as it simply didn't work. Could you switch between using stylus and your hand reliably, IDK. I do know that for writing and drawing that a stylus is a must. Your finger is not a good substitute, it's simply too big.

For folding... you really don't see the benefit of covering the screen? You must actually be as dumb as you sound. I guess you also don't know anything about the PSP and DS either. This very argument came up when the PSP came out. In short, folding keeps the screens looking better for far longer since they won't get scratched.

I can understand your screen argument, but if you think about it the same could be said for a lot of screens. Honestly, how often are you actually looking at your whole screen? Apart from gaming and videos of course, since you'd be using both screens on the courier for that as well. For most tasks I rarely use up half my screen for my desktop. A bit bigger than either of the tablets for sure. One thing I could see being useful about having two screens would be that you could turn one side off when you don't need it. Can't do that with one large ass screen. Would be very useful for saving battery life. Interesting argument for sure, but it would really depend on how the dual screens get implemented.


RE: Was never a real product
By walk2k on 4/29/2010 5:41:48 PM , Rating: 3
I like Helvetica better anyway.


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