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Microsoft Courier tablet is dead.
Pioneer Studios offices closed and employees scattered

A year after Microsoft killed the much-anticipated Courier tablet project, PC World reports that the entire team responsible for the project, Pioneer Studios, has disbanded.

Although Courier was never an official Microsoft product, the design and concept behind the dual-screen hinged tablet garnered a lot of enthusiasm. (Note: Sony is expected to launch a tablet with a similar form factor in the near future.)

Pioneer Studios' Seattle office closed a year after J Allard, a former top designer at Microsoft credited with founding Pioneer, left the company. Pioneer cofounder, George Petschnigg, is now listed as an "entrepreneur" working on an "undisclosed new venture" on his LinkedIn profile. He was instrumental in securing $20 million in development funding for the now dead Courier. According to a PC World, he is now at Microsoft's Startup Business Group. 

Other Pioneer Studios employees have also reportedly left the company or have joined other groups, notably the Startup Business Group.

In addition to Pioneer, Microsoft has a number of other incubation groups, including FUSE Labs, the Garage, and the Hardware Incubation Lab.

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By mkrech on 5/20/2011 1:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think MS ran from this as soon as they discovered what it meant.

This concept is not especially ground breaking. The hardware is all off the shelf. The only thing that would be even slightly advanced would be a performance multi-touch / stylus input touch screen... and those already exist.

What makes this ground breaking is the UI. The UI is increasingly becoming the differentiating factor of most technology platforms. Access to hardware is just to ubiquitous to provide a strong competitive edge. Is the iPad hardware that much better that the Zoom, Playbook or Galaxy?

This is a problem for MS. Unless they can keep the development in the black (as in secret), inevitably the concept will be copied. I think MS understands that in a foot race to complete a whole new UI, likely built on a new OS, they simply cannot stay ahead of the open source initiatives or even Apple. (yes, I don't think Apple is above stealing an idea from MS)

I see this as MS making a bullet that shoots backwards. Once MS realized that developing this in the open would only hurt them and help their competitors, they ended the project. At least publicly... and probably internally as well. But, I bet they are working on that UI. It is after all what MS does. At their core, they are a software company.

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