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Microsoft Hardware Technology

Microsoft "Courier" Pictures 230

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bandwagon-or-shark-jumping dept.
tekgoblin writes to let us know that Gizmodo has some early shots of the new prototype "Courier" booklet (foldable tablet) on the way from Microsoft. "Courier is a real device, and we've heard that it's in the 'late prototype' stage of development. It's not a tablet, it's a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre."
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Microsoft "Courier" Pictures

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  • by Pop69 (700500) <billy AT benarty DOT co DOT uk> on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:34PM (#31376476) Homepage
    It's all just so much "me too" vapourware from Microsoft
  • Booklet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:38PM (#31376516) Homepage Journal

    MS's ability to name things has always be bad.

  • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:38PM (#31376518) Homepage

    It may be "me too", but it's "me too" done better than Apple did.

  • Re:Booklet? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotgain (630123) on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:40PM (#31376544) Homepage Journal
    You have to admit, ever since "squirt", things can only get better.
  • Pre? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:41PM (#31376552)

    an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

    It's a bad sign that the Palm Pre comparisons have already started. If this thing winds up being to the iPad what the Pre is to the iPhone, it's already dead. It will have great promise and hope that will be dashed as soon as you try to use the thing. Sort of like a Democratic majority in Congress....

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:00PM (#31376724) Homepage

    Watching the demo, I just can't understand why Microsoft seems so obsessed with the idea that everybody's going to want to interact with a computer using a pen.

    Think about it. Let's say you're collaborating on a project with somebody, and he's done a lot of brainstorming about it. He comes to a meeting with a stack of notebooks where he's written down all his ideas. What's the first thing he says? "Sorry about my handwriting."

    Even I apologize for my handwriting, and I have the handwriting of a comic-book letterer -- when I want to. The thing is, writing neatly takes a lot of time. It's much faster to use upper and lower case than block capitals, for starters, and it's faster to use cursive than printing. And even faster than that to just scrawl it out any way you can.

    But you know what's even faster than that? Typing on a computer keyboard.

    Microsoft first got on this kick with OneNote, its note-taking application, which it seemed to want to market as the killer app for tablet PCs. And by that I mean the first generation of tablet PCs. You know the ones. You didn't buy one. For some reason, Microsoft was pushing really hard for this idea that everybody would be walking around with tablet PCs, scribbling notes into OneNote with pens.

    Now, I use OneNote every day. But while I have a nice-sized Wacom tablet sitting right here on my desk, which comes with a very nice, contoured stylus that fits very nicely in my hand, never once have I been inspired to plug the thing in to scrawl off some notes in OneNote. Not when there's a keyboard sitting right in front of me. Not when I know that if I simply type in my thoughts, OneNote won't have to try to OCR my scrawls in order to make the text searchable. Not when I know that storing a bitmap to save a six-word thought is a waste of space.

    So in this Courier demo we not only have someone scribbling notes on a notepad -- which conveniently resembles an onscreen Moleskine notebook, because everybody knows people like their computers to model real-life things that are less efficient than computers, even when the computer doesn't much resemble that real-life thing -- but at one point the person draws a box around those notes, taps on it and the box turns into ... a highlighted yellow version of that wobbly, hand-drawn box.

    That might be all well and good if I was a bright-eyed fresh college grad like the eager woman in the demo, and my life was accompanied by a wistful accoustic indie-rock soundtrack. But in real life, if I was being jostled back and forth on the noisy subway on my way home and I drew that box and it popped up on my screen looking all fucked-up like I just drew it, the first thing that would cross my mind would be, "God dammit, why is this computer so stupid that it can't tell I was trying to draw a box just now? Why won't it just make a rectangle? Drawing boxes was so much fucking easier when all I had to do is click my mouse button, hold it and drag."

    This UI goes beyond a solution looking for a problem. It's a way of actively making it harder for me to get work done with a computer.

    It reminds me of all the VRML hype from years back. People were predicting that in the future, we wouldn't type URLs into a Web browser. We'd fire up our Avatars and fly to places on the Web in 3-D graphics. We would walk through virtual libraries, pulling electronic books off 3-D shelves. We'd ride dragons to meeting rooms where we'd chat with other avatars in real time. And all I could think was, "WTF? So we've just invented the Internet, this miraculous thing that puts the world of information right at your fingertips, no matter where you are, so that all you have to do is type a couple things and the information instantly appears on your screen... and you want to impose a 3-D spatial paradigm on it? Instead of calling up information out of thin air, you want to have to hike down the virtual block to get it? You call that progress?"

    Same thing with this tablet idea. People are too stu

  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:03PM (#31376756) Journal

    Theres better change for that be possibility than on iPad or other devices - Android can already be run in Windows Mobiles and generally Windows doesn't restrict you from installing another OS. Though driver and such support has to be done for it, obviously.

  • This is very cool. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tthomas48 (180798) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:04PM (#31376760) Homepage

    I think this device looks very cool, and it solves the iPad/iPod Touch conundrum. The iPad has a nice screen for reading, but you actually read the ipod touch because it fits in your pocket. If I could have the screen of an iPad and put it in my pocket you've got a killer app there.

    And before your criticize the "put in your pocket" thing, I get that as the killer feature the ipod touch has from two moms who both use their ipods constantly. The ipad is not so convenient for taking a load of laundry out to the laundry room and checking facebook status updates.

  • by Shag (3737) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:08PM (#31376796) Homepage

    When Microsoft says "late prototype" I read it as "we've got nothing, really, but if we say we're about to release something, a non-zero percentage of the market will sit on their thumbs until we do, instead of buying actual products that are actually available from other sources, because by golly, we're Microsoft."

    (Yes, I know, it actually works. And no, I don't think that's a very nice tactic.)

  • Re:Correct Links (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:08PM (#31376798)

    The only content you added beyond that provided by Engadget and Gizmodo was your ads.

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:14PM (#31376854)

    I just can't understand why Microsoft seems so obsessed with the idea that everybody's going to want to interact with a computer using a pen.

    because I could walk around holding the courier with one hand and writing stuff/accessing it with another even if I'm wearing gloves?

    virtual keyboards like the iphone/ipad are not very good for using them on the go in my opinion, and a pen-based interface can work a lot better.

  • by samkass (174571) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:21PM (#31376902) Homepage Journal

    Sure, and the tablet PCs are a "me too" to the Newton and eMate, etc. The difference is that you can actually buy iPods and you'll be able to order an iPad next week for delivery about a month from now. These leaks from Microsoft are just an attempt to spread FUD and suppress iPad sales until Microsoft can whip up a competing product. Fortunately, Microsoft's typical "suppress innovation until we're ready with an almost-ran" tactic isn't going to work very well against Apple because of their momentum with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:22PM (#31376912) Homepage Journal
    It looks like an nifty device, I will grant that. Nonetheless, I grow wary of buying anything from Microsoft these days. It seems like that company has become absolute artists at nickel and diming their customers. For instance, on the first Xbox, you could save guest profiles and, as long as one housemate had an Xbox Live membership, you could host those guests in games. Out comes the 360 and now you can no longer save guest profiles. You have to reset yours settings every damn login if you piggyback on your roomate's account. Then there are their operating systems. Granted, Windows 7 seems to have turned out alright. But they rushed Vista so bad they FUBARed the whole stupid thing and had to rerelease (and charge money for) an entire new OS to fix their screw ups. Again, they profit at the expense of their consumers. Their PC games (Games for Windows or whatever that PR tag is on PC game boxes now) have increasingly pain in the ass DRM. I don't even bother to buy the stupid things anymore because it is easier just to get a hack copy from the internet complete with DRM circumvention kits.

    As much as I love to blame all of my tech problems on Gates' legacy, I will admit that Microsoft turns out some top quality products from time to time. Their ergonomic keyboards are fantastic. This tablet looks impressive. I just find it hard to give my money to a company that is so skilled at financially raping their consumer base. Sorry MS, good products or not, you've burned my trust one too many times.
  • by martinX (672498) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:27PM (#31376950)

    I don't think you could. Try it out now. Walking and writing on a paper pad at the same time is going to result in a slow walk and messy writing. An app that has been well designed for the iPad (and other keyboard interfaces) would work with the idea that there is no pen and make it as easy as possible for the user to use them.

    As a far-out example, using FCP is a lot easier once you memorise the (thousand or so...) keyboard shortcuts whereas an equivalent app on the iPad wouldn't have you using a virtual keyboard but would make use of the touch and multi-touch features to the best advantage of the user. These are completely different devices to a PC on a desk and so require a developer to, well, Think Different.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:34PM (#31377002)

    you gotta be kidding with the "profit at expense of their consumers"

    cause I know a company that will charge you for features already included but hidden(bluetooth support, fm radio), or release new products that are supposedly and update but just with minor updates (all ipod line), and even tell their customers why they dont need basic stuff, and why does who use it are idiots (flash, multitasking).

  • Re:Booklet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:35PM (#31377008)

    This soon after the iPad is announced, 'Booklet' is considered a bad name? Really?

  • Re:Pre? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:44PM (#31377066)
    I don't think EnergyStar certification is important to most people when it comes to charging their portable devices.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:50PM (#31377102)

    Breaking a screen into two smaller ones and sticking a giant hinge/bezel in the middle isn't an advantage.

    Think about watching video on this. You have half the screen and turned sideways.

    Even reading a regular text ebook. Two screens aren't an advantage, they are a hindrance.

    Now it might be good for a few things where you can flick it between the two small screens, BUT you could easily do the same thing on one bigger screen by creating a software split between the halves.

    Now MS may have some good SW ideas, I'll wait until they exist outside of a cartoon to comment on those, but I think they would be better delivered on a one screen device.

  • Re:Wrong link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Buelldozer (713671) <{cliff} {at} {gindulis.net}> on Friday March 05, 2010 @07:00PM (#31377180)

    Is there a particular reason to believe that they WILL lock it down?

    I haven't seen any evidence of them doing that with any other platform they've released with the exception of Xbox360 and Xbox Live.

    Their Desktop and Mobile operating systems have been paragon's of "openness" from the standpoint of installing applications and I really don't see why they'd change this.

    You can accuse me of being an MS FanBoi if you want but this post was typed in a Chrome browser and there is a Moto Droid strapped to my hip.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Friday March 05, 2010 @07:01PM (#31377186)

    MSFT has been doing tablets for almost a decade. however it took apple to design a smart phone with a tablet interface.

    the ipad will blow away windows based tablets because you can't take a desktop GUI and shove it onto a tablet and call it a tablet OS. it is something that no one else seems willing to fully do but apple.

    It will take MSFt 3 years to duplicate the iphones major interface elements for touch screens. MSFt spends $9 billion in R&D and they get crap for it.

  • by Angostura (703910) on Friday March 05, 2010 @07:05PM (#31377208)

    You speak like someone who has heard of 2nd Life but hasn't used it much. The original poster's point is valid: Try to find some information regarding IBM on the Web - type www.ibm.com Now do the same with SL - go, i'll wait until you come back.

    OK?

    The truth about 2nd life as information medium is encapsulated in your comment "Or at least it was"

    Just because someone can see a gimmick is a gimmick doesn't mean that they are involved in protecting their patch of turf.

  • Re:Wrong link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday March 05, 2010 @07:21PM (#31377304)

    So Windows CE is like Linux with the standard GNU utilities and Windows Mobile is like Ubuntu.

    Sorry to all you Windows geeks out there, but I just thought somebody better put it in a way that the n00bs who don't go messing with their computers can understand it.

  • Re:Pre? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:00PM (#31377868)

    It will have great promise and hope that will be dashed as soon as you try to use the thing. Sort of like a Democratic majority in Congress....

    Flawed analogy - rational people actually expected the iPad to be useful before we found out the details. I've yet to meet someone rational who actually expected anything worthwhile from a Democratic majority in Congress.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:07PM (#31377900) Homepage

    But in real life, if I was being jostled back and forth on the noisy subway on my way home and I drew that box and it popped up on my screen looking all fucked-up like I just drew it, the first thing that would cross my mind would be, "God dammit, why is this computer so stupid that it can't tell I was trying to draw a box just now? Why won't it just make a rectangle? Drawing boxes was so much fucking easier when all I had to do is click my mouse button, hold it and drag."

    This UI goes beyond a solution looking for a problem. It's a way of actively making it harder for me to get work done with a computer.

    I think you're scraping a much bigger problem here that Microsoft totally missed while rushing on creating a competitor to the iPad, even though Apple specifically explained it in their promotional video: The whole user interface isn't intuitive! You actually have to learn where to tap to do what, etc. For example, I would never have expected that dragging a contact to a page shares that page with this person.

    The result of this is that the user actually has to get to know the UI. This could be done by a manual (as if anybody ever reads a manual), a tutorial application (bad first experience with the device), or some kind of course like they have for using MS Word (most folks don't put up with this, unless they absolutely need this for their job). This completely removes the whole non-techy population from the target user group.

    You just do from the Apple spot isn't an empty marketing line, it's the concept behind good user interaction design: You don't have to learn the user interface, because the user interface behaves like a regular person would expect it to, intuitively. For example, dragging an object from one place to another should put that object there. If you take a photo of your mother and place it on your notepad, you expect the photo to be there, not your mother to know everything that's written in the notepad.

    And that's only scraping the surface of that video. The cut-operation is another problem, as is switching applications.

    As a contrast, the only thing I ever had to explain to folks trying out my iPhone is the function of the home button ("press the button to get out of an app"), that's it. As soon as they know that, they have full control over the device.

    Same thing with this tablet idea. People are too stupid to use computers, apparently, so you want to use all the power of a computer to enable them to do things like they would if all they had was a stack of paper and a Bic -- because that's what they're supposedly comfortable with

    Well, the idea behind those real-life UIs is that people have an easier time getting started using the application, if it looks like the thing it's supposed to replace. The important part here is that the UI must not be limited by that metaphor, otherwise you could just use the original thing instead. However, the application should expand on that concept, meaning that everything should work as in the original thing, plus some more behaviors.

    And actually, people really do like those interfaces. I wrote one of them, and it's pretty well-received.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:34PM (#31378062)

    If you look, there is no "there" there. As in, nothing physical is being shown at any time. These are not prototypes - they are concepts! They aren't even as real at this stage as the fantasy cars you see at car shows.

    So let's see what comes out and WHEN it comes out. Remember that not even Windows Mobile 7 Edition comes out until the end of the year, and it's a lot less ambitious!

    Some of the ideas are really interesting, but how much will we see in real life and how practical will it be to use.

  • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:23PM (#31378364) Homepage

    Did we just sink to the level of Apple antipathy/analysis where someone actually states that a Microsoft vaporware project is way ahead of an Apple product that's going to hit the streets in three weeks?

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:38PM (#31378456) Journal

    Breaking a screen into two smaller ones and sticking a giant hinge/bezel in the middle isn't an advantage.

    Even reading a regular text ebook. Two screens aren't an advantage, they are a hindrance.

    Yes, because that thing called a "printed book" which has that exact same user interface is such a failure...

  • Re:Wrong link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wingsy (761354) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:23AM (#31379786)
    "There's no way I'll be buying the locked down tablet-like iPad when this is coming up."

    Well at least MS scored a direct hit with one sucker. Announcing a product still in its initial concept phase has one and only one purpose: to prevent you from buying a competitor's product long enough for them to develop something that might compete.

    Some day your dreams may come true. I wish you luck.

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