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Microsoft Windows Hardware

The Story Behind the Demise of the Microsoft Courier Tablet 200

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cool-gadgets-make-no-money dept.
UnknowingFool writes "When the Courier project was leaked out, it was a bold look at how MS would design new tablets. Microsoft was currently selling tablets but they didn't make a dent in the market. The problem was it was too bold. According to the story Ballmer had two competing executive visions for tablets: J. Allard and Steven Sinofsky. Allard's vision was very different from MS thinking while Sinofsky's was more in line with existing Windows but was years away. Ballmer called on Gates to help and Gates met with Allard. Gates was apparently troubled on how Courier would not mesh with Windows or Office. The project was cancelled shortly thereafter. An interesting detail was that Courier was more complete than most outsiders knew. While there was no one prototype that unified all the concepts of Courier, there were parallel efforts in the different aspects of it."
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The Story Behind the Demise of the Microsoft Courier Tablet

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @09:13AM (#37919802)

    I imagine that one of their complaints about the Xbox was that it couldn't be tied into Windows or Office either, but it ended up being a big money-maker. And even that has stagnated since Allard left the project. He was one of the very few "outside the box" guys that MS ever had. He was the one who warned Gates in the mid-90's that the internet was coming on big and that they needed to adapt Windows to the online world. He was the one who encouraged them to think more like Apple back when MS was still thinking "Apple?!? Ha, those guys will never amount to anything." The Zune was about his only misstep, and in fairness he was being tasked with an almost impossible thing there (catch up with the iPod after the iPod had already become the killer app).

    Ballmer has been a shit leader at MS. And Gates isn't helping by still backing him. Losing Allard is just another symptom of the disease over there.

    • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @09:20AM (#37919880)

      IOW, you are saying MS is now a rich Zombie of a corporation?
      This explains why they were asking for smart people. (Braaaiiins, needs Braaaiiins)

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        No, they need more hearts and guts in their diet.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        IOW, you are saying MS is now a rich Zombie of a corporation?
        This explains why they were asking for smart people. (Braaaiiins, needs Braaaiiins)

        They have the brains, but they don't have the guts to use them.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        They have plenty of brains. Some of the smartest people in the world are working there. For once, though, they need more people with vision. People who aren't business drones.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      The zune had potential, the problem was that Microsoft let the RIAA dictate it's software.

      the heaping piles of steamy DRM on the unit made it fail. it's "share tunes feature" was a ipod killer, and if MSFT told the RIAA to stuff it in their ass sideways and made the thing without any DRM in it it could have really made a difference.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Microsoft needed the DRM more than the RIAA, in their own minds. They now they are on top only through vendor lock-in, there is no better lock-in than DRM.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:33AM (#37920954)

        No. The Zune failed for different reasons.
        1. Brown
        2. Roughly the same price as an iPod
        3. Roughly the same features and performance of an iPod
        4. No Mac Support (the iPod did Mac and Windows support)
        5. They came in when the iPod was already really cool.
        6. No one really liked Microsoft at the time. (During the time of Mass XP Viruses, Windows Longhorn delays, IE 6 showing its age...)

        Without the DRM Microsoft would have failed further because no publishing company will give them rights to the music.

        • It failed for the same reason most non-iPods fail, and why the iPod succeeded ...iTunes

          Microsoft like most others missed the point, the iPod sold because it was ludicrously easy to get music on it ... and manage it, so it was bought by Apple's normal type of customer, non-technical ..... the Zune had no iTunes equivalent and so you had to learn how to rip CD's download music from a site then upload to the player etc ... for the same price as an iPod ... ?

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            Zune had their software for this, though. And in many regards, it was better than iTunes. The Zune Pass was a pretty great addition.

          • by i_b_don (1049110)

            I never heard once in my life a friend of mine use this as a reason for buying an ipod.

            And personally, Itunes and the insanity that is "getting music onto an ipod" is the #1 reason I regret buying my ipod. I recognize that I'm not the average customer, but I still have never heard of it as a selling feature.

            d

        • by Korin43 (881732)

          4. No Mac Support (the iPod did Mac and Windows support)

          Come on, how many Mac users were going to buy a Zune anyway?

          • by Graymalkin (13732) *

            With no Mac support they guaranteed that number was zero.

            • by delinear (991444)
              For Apple, tapping into the Windows market is a huge new potential revenue stream. For MS, tapping into the Mac market probably didn't justify the return on investment. Where they needed to focus their efforts was on getting the thing right for their main audience first and then migrating it to other platforms later - unfortunately they never did get that first part right.
              • Think about it this way: there is practically no investment in making the Zune Mac compatible. That's a couple KB of firmware at the most (and if licenses are the issue I'm sure the MS Mac Business unit already pays for them).

                Now, if you are a PC owner going out to buy an MP3 player and you have friends who have Macs, friends who have PCs - you're going to want something that is Mac compatible. That way you can hook it up to your friend's Mac and get all his music in addition to all of your music and your P

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Basically, the Zune was a "me too" product. The Courier, however, had the potential to be unique and cool, but it was too bold for MS, so they missed a chance, and now the Fire is filling one of the gaps left by the iPad. (mine is on order).

          Luck favors the bold. If MS doesn't seem to be getting any new luck, it is because their marketing strategy is cowardly and not willing to take risks.

      • I don't think the DRM came from RIAA requirements. The truth is, Microsoft had an agenda. They developed WMA, WMV, and associated DRM specifically so that they could dominate media distribution. They would have made a fortune in licensing fees as well as creating a strong vendor lock-in.

        The iPod was the only thing that really prevented Microsoft from controlling all of your audio/video entertainment.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        The Zune was a good device. However, it was something like 5 years too late. It was about as good as an iPod, but by that time, it needed to be incredibly, significantly better than the iPod for anyone to care.

        They got another chance with their Zune HD Touch (or whatever it was called), but decided that it didn't need to be able to run apps, and so there was almost no reason to get one.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          This is exactly right. I'm still using a 30Gb Zune in my kitchen; it's a nice little player, syncs wirelessly and has a radio which I use a lot. But I only got it because it was cheap on woot - it wasn't really better than an ipod on balance when new. The HD really lacked compared to an ipod touch, there was no reason to get that unless again you got it at a fire sale price.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      I imagine that one of their complaints about the Xbox was that it couldn't be tied into Windows or Office either, but it ended up being a big money-maker.

      [citation needed]

      Xbox is still a billion-plus money-sink as far as I'm aware, and they'll have to spend billions more releasing a new one soon. Even if it's actually broken even, Microsoft could have made much more money by buying more Apple stock instead of developing game consoles.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        It looks like the 360 became profitable back in 2008. That could have changed by now.
        • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:34AM (#37920964)

          It looks like the 360 became profitable back in 2008.

          The 360 started making more money than it cost on a quarterly basis. I believe it's still a long way from paying back the money that's been spent on it over the years, and is unlikely to do that before they have to spend billions developing the replacement.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234)
            Ah, gotcha. And yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if they never entirely recoup what they've dropped.

            Though I also wouldn't be surprised if they consider it successful (beyond sunk costs) as a defensive move. The defining lines between various computing devices gets blurrier every day.
            • by i_b_don (1049110)

              I would be surprised if they DON'T make back all the money they invested going forward. They have successfully cut themselves a niche in a lucrative marketplace which had VERY high and expensive barriers to entry. Are they going to get kicked out of this marketplace in the next 5 years? 10 years? I wouldn't bet in that direction. Microsoft does somethings very well and hardware is not one of them. But, now that they have successful hardware in the homes I have confidence in their ability to create an

              • At the current rate, MS will break even on it within the next 10 years. The problem is if they need to start developing/manufacturing another generation within that time. Then the costs will drop the product back to negative again.
    • by westlake (615356)

      I imagine that one of their complaints about the Xbox was that it couldn't be tied into Windows or Office either, but it ended up being a big money-maker. And even that has stagnated since Allard left the project.

      Kinect does not look like stagnation.

      The Xbox 360 is likely getting a Fall update that contains significant graphical updates and a few new features, Kinect motion and voice navigation, Bing integration, and, ultimately, live television streaming.

      If Microsoft's dashboard update looks familiar, it's because the design fits in the same family as the user interface for both the company's Windows Phone 7 OS and Windows 8 developer preview. In other words, Xbox Live will fit rather seamlessly into Microsoft's upcoming system OS, a future integration promised by none other than Xbox Live's own Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb.

      Video Leaked: Xbox 360 Fall Dashboard Update [pcmag.com]

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Kinect does not look like stagnation.

        Kinect wasn't developed at Microsoft, was it? I thought they bought that in from an third party?

        • by delinear (991444)
          It's still supporting the platform, that's clearly not stagnation. Microsoft have done a lot of things wrong, and even with the XBOX they've not always got things right (RRoD), but it still seems like a well supported product for the time being.
      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Kinect does not look like stagnation.

        That's because you have to jump all around and gesticulate while using it. But stop for a minute and you'll stagnate allright.

    • by Bent Mind (853241)

      I imagine that one of their complaints about the Xbox was that it couldn't be tied into Windows or Office either

      My 2 seconds of Googling didn't find it. However, I remember Gates talking about a completely sealed computer system running Windows NT. The idea was that the system would only run MS software on MS hardware. No upgrades would be possible. I always figured the Xbox evolved from that prototype.

      • ....it's what they wanted to evolve into that vision, they wanted the XBOX to be a home media centre, play games, watch movies, play music all on the XBox, now why do you need a PC ?

        • by delinear (991444)
          Ironically my original XBOX could do all of those things. Just not natively with all the lockdowns MS put in place. It was only when I cracked it open and soldered in a chip and installed a Linux distro running XBMC that it became the all-singing, all-dancing media centre it always promised to be. A lot of these companies are so focused on locking down the media that they fail to deliver the device the public want (and I guess for them it's seen as a justified risk, as owning the media would make them a min
      • The idea was that the system would only run MS software on MS hardware. No upgrades would be possible. .

        And it'd come in various colors named after fruit.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      I imagine that one of their complaints about the Xbox was that it couldn't be tied into Windows or Office either, but it ended up being a big money-maker.

      ~$9B in the red and starting to make a $100Mil per quarter is NOT a big money maker.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        ~$9B in the red and starting to make a $100Mil per quarter is NOT a big money maker.

        I bet if you factor in 13 million Xbox Live Gold subscribers paying an additional $70 every year they own the console (that's almost a billion $ every year right there), plus the cut they get off every game sold, they're making a helluva lot more than shows up in raw console sales figures.

    • The Zune was about his only misstep

      In fairness, Zunes aren't really bad. They're pretty good, but they're just not as good as iPods. The interface design is pretty attractive and clever, and in fact has basically lead to the UI being used for the Windows phone OS and Windows 8.

      • The problem for the Zune that they were only good. To overcome Apple's dominant position, they had to be great. The original Zune had some advantages over the iPod Classic. Then Apple released the Touch and the Zune never caught up. MS was focused so much on making a competing media player that they fell behind when Apple changed the rules by making the Touch a mobile computing device that could play media and other things.
  • Yes it was a bold effort, but the first major player in the market often gets to set the standards other vendors must meet. Had MS pushed the Courier to fruition we would be looking at a very different tablet landscape. Obviously they didn't want to push a sub-standard product to market, but in the end I believe the Courier would have been a quality (and interesting) offering.
    • The iPad is not the first tablet [wikipedia.org], but it is the first one that has sold very well.

      • Apple was unique at the time as they made a different OS for the new platform. Previous Tablets were just PC OS's with touch screens.

        • Can you tell that to PenPoint OS - released as a Tablet only OS, before Apple Newton, and MS's Tablet ...

          In fact almost all the earlier tablets had a unique OS, that was their downfall the advantage of Apple iOS was that it was not a custom Tablet OS, so it was already familiar and already had loads of apps, because it was what the iPhone ran ...

          • by nschubach (922175)

            And let me guess... it used a pen?

            I have a Tablet PC that is pen based and I hated it. Touch is the only way to do a tablet.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      "Obviously they didn't want to push a sub-standard product to market..."

      Um, this is Microsoft we're talking about; they do that all the time. And I'm not just saying that to be snotty, there's a whole history of examples: Windows 1 & 2, Windows Me, Windows Vista, the Zune, the first several versions of IE, the first several iterations of WinCE/PocketPC/Mobile. Microsoft often gets it right eventually, but getting a sub-standard product to market and then trying to fix it is a time-honored tradition wi

      • Um, this is Microsoft we're talking about; they do that all the time. And I'm not just saying that to be snotty, there's a whole history of examples: Windows 1 & 2, Windows Me, Windows Vista, the Zune, the first several versions of IE, the first several iterations of WinCE/PocketPC/Mobile. Microsoft often gets it right eventually, but getting a sub-standard product to market and then trying to fix it is a time-honored tradition with them.

        The Zune was certainly a commercial flop, but there was nothing su

    • I'm with John Gruber in respect to this history. Is really hard to believe that they have been ever close to release a product when even the internal teams were not aware of any of the design and software constraints by the others. If they were talking about a Microsoft branded PC or any other device with of the self components sure, it can be true, but with a device that requires such a level of miniaturization and custom parts is unbelievable. Aside from that, they would have used much of the Courier OS's

  • for a content-creation-oriented user interface. The iPad is abysmal at content creation. Maybe MS could take its Courier ideas and use it to make a really spectacular, touch-based version of OneNote that could run on existing tablets -- any OS, not limited to Windows. Keep the split-screen functionality, just do it in software, not hardware. I'd buy it.

    • The iPad is abysmal at content creation.

      Says who?

      Millions are using the iPad for content creation every day - from drawing to music to writing to editing video. What honestly could the Courier have done you cannot do with an iPad and the right application?

      I mean it theoretically had a stylus, but please. For art you can simply zoom in a bit more if you want to sketch finer details with an iPad stylus.

      The reality is that given enough motivation to make quality applications, a device can become really good

      • bah, I read the question backwards.
      • What honestly could the Courier have done you cannot do with an iPad and the right application?

        Take a look at http://youtu.be/GlpftPSuXe4 [youtu.be] The big difference is that everything in the Courier is oriented towards keeping a journal of your content, whereas everything in the iPad is oriented towards presenting you with someone else's content.

        Any by "orientation", I mean the whole panoply of user interaction, presentation, persistence, cataloging, etc.

        • The big difference is that everything in the Courier is oriented towards keeping a journal of your content, whereas everything in the iPad is oriented towards presenting you with someone else's content.

          That is not even true with the default apps. I am presented with MY photos, MY videos, MY contacts I have stored. I see emails I have written, notes I have made...

          Expanding out into other applications I use a number of note taking applications, and use a number of drawing applications too.

          Yes I have a few v

      • Says who?

        Says me, I'm an iPad owner and content creator. I love my iPad, but it sucks for painting, writing, and video editing. It is, however, great for browsing and playing.

        I mean it theoretically had a stylus, but please. For art you can simply zoom in a bit more if you want to sketch finer details with an iPad stylus.

        You do realize that an iPad stylus is just a pencil with a fake finger on the end of it, right? A Wacom it is not.

        Applications matter.

        So does the interface. Seriously. The iPad doesn't even have a proper file system. How are you going to edit your videos if you can't grab images and sound from a library somewhere and connect it all together? The people yo

        • Says me, I'm an iPad owner and content creator. I love my iPad, but it sucks for painting, writing, and video editing. It is, however, great for browsing and playing.

          I am a content creator too. The iPad sucks at none of those things:

          1) Painting.

          Yes you are going to get a nicer device in a Wacom tablet. I am not a professional artist but do some light drawing and illustration, to the point where I bought a Wacom Cintiq.

          And then I returned it, because I found I really preferred drawing on the iPad. The Cin

          • You do realize you can zoom in to a drawing to handle fine detail with a larger stylus right? I mean DUH

            Yes, you can use an uncomfortable stylus and blow your image way up to do some painting. You can also cross the United States on a skateboard.

            Where's the goddam harness on this horseless carriage? Nor is there a place for my buggy-whi to be stored! Useless I say ... File interchange is being figured out. !

            Mmm hmm.

  • Yeah, that's a real game-changer there.
    But we like the game as it is.
  • It was vapourware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pop69 (700500) <billy AT benarty DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @09:28AM (#37919968) Homepage
    I've stopped believing anything Microsoft announce until I can actually buy it in a shop.
    • by mbourgon (186257)

      Coming to the app store soon for $10, looks like.
      http://tapose.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com]

    • by jimicus (737525)

      If you limit that to just Microsoft products, you need your head examined. Really it applies to everything in the industry - the product can safely be said to exist on the day you can actually buy it/download it and not before.

      • by Tom (822)

        Really it applies to everything in the industry

        Many, not everything. There are a number of companies known for announcing vaporware (MS is among them), and there are companies known for following their announcements with "available today" (Apple) or to reliably follow up with a real release - but most companies fall somewhere in the middle.

        Blaming everyone is short-sighted. Check out who delivers and who doesn't. You'll notice patterns.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          Apple aren't the best example - when apple announce something, it's because it's available now. Not because it may be available at some unspecified point in the future.

  • One of the consistent items from the Steve Jobs Biog, was that he kept showing Bil Gates things like the iPad and the iPod and Gates just not getting it. So it does not surprise me

    Microsoft over many years have built themselves a straitjacket called windows. They cannot do anything without seeing how it affects their cash cow, without realizing until recently it was strangling them.

    I wonder how many other ideas generated from there in-house geniuses they hire every year has been strangled by there short-si

  • My Courier met a disgraceful and ignominious end in 2008 when I was moving and realized that it was just inconceivable that I would ever use it again or that it would even have resale value. I was probably slightly wrong about that second thing (somebody, somewhere, maybe could have used it) but it didn't seem worth the trouble. It ended up in a box of stuff that went to a electronics recycler, and probably ended up poisoning someone in China.

    FWIW, I'm glad Microsoft didn't end up tarnishing the once-very

  • Everything must standardize to Windows if Microsoft wants to remain the biggest player. Producing a product, no matter how successful, that is not locked to Windows would a marketing disaster. Microsoft's message lives and dies on the belief that Windows is mandatory for a product to be usable. Balmer made the correct decision.

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      Isn't it ironic that everything Apple sells runs on some form of OS X?
      • by Tom (822)

        You got that backwards - OS X is made to run on everything that Apple sells. They didn't have an OS and invented a phone for it the way windows mobile was birthed. They had this vision of a phone and needed an OS for it. If you already have an in-house developed OS, modifying that is the most obvious thing you can imagine.

        • Back in 2005 were two camps in Apple. One of them wanted to make basically a bigger iPod using a Linux-based OS, and it was led by the iPod chief Tony Fadell. The other wanted to repurpose OS X to mobile devices, and was led by the top OS X architect, Scott Forstall. Jobs had them do a bake-off, the OS X camp won. Forstall is now head of the iOS division.

          However, there is the theory that Jobs was always going to go with OS X, but wanted Forstall to prove himself against other VPs before he was promoted to V

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      That is their belief, but it will kill them in the end. Protecting current profit streams has killed a great many companies and will continue to do so. RIM is dieing of this disease right now.

      • RIM is dying of the disease of trying to be too many things to too many people. They are trying to focus on content consumption now, and touch screens, to the detriment of a really rock solid OS with rock solid hardware.

        I just upgraded to BBOS 6, and it looks optimized for a zillion things, except for stability and really good messaging. Guess what the only reason I chose a Blackberry over an Android was? Hint, it wasnt to watch youtube.

        Maybe im the minority here, but I feel like RIM needs to make sure t

  • One thing I forgot in the submission was Courier was missing email. I don't know if they could have added a client later in development though. In this aspect I would agree with Gates however I suspect that MS would have wanted not just email generally but Outlook specifically. From the article, Courier was using a heavily modified version of Windows that stripped out much of the existing UI. Adding Outlook would have been a huge effort.
  • The courier's form factor would have been a nearly perfect psychological fit to many things people use tablets for. It looks like an electronic book that can do all sorts of crazy "computer stuff." With the right software, it would have been perfectly intuitive as an eBook reader, notepad, sketchpad and several other things which would have endeared it to students, readers and business types.

    I don't get how it would not "mesh with office." A company with Microsoft's resources shouldn't have any problem crea

    • by SomePgmr (2021234)
      True, and they've already done this on a few occasions. They used to have Office mobile (it was pretty sad), but they had it nonetheless.

      A new mobile version, even if it were new software that spoke OWA and basic office doc formats, would have been fine.
    • by Tom (822)

      I don't get how it would not "mesh with office." A company with Microsoft's resources shouldn't have any problem creating an Office Lite that has a touch UI. If they'd actually taken it to its logical conclusion with a solid phone, this very well might have done in RIM in the business market.

      Ah, but you don't get how MS works as a corporation.

      They don't invent new products and then change the company around them. They go through their departments every now and then and look for "unrealised profits". Or they look at where other people make a fortune and ask themselves if they can get a piece of the cake, preferably the largest piece, without changing themselves.

      That's MS greatest strength and greatest burden: It has never really changed itself. There is this strong core consisting of windows and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @09:51AM (#37920330)

    I know this is /., but a quick read of the article showed that Allard was targeting "content creators" like architects. One of the areas Bill pressed him on was the devices ability to get e-mail and the response was people had smart phones or computers for email, if they wanted to use the courier they could use webmail. It was meant to be a pc complement, except it was so "complementary" that it stood outside as a niche market item.

    While the dual screen concept was very interesting, I think it was Allard that was short-sighted - at least in regard to how the device would be used. I think if you look at how the iPad and various other tablets are getting used, you'll see communication is one of the big features. If MS had released Allard's vision as (the article claims) it was presented Bill, MS would have taken a beating for not including native email and who knows what else.

    I think Bill and, I can't believe I'm going to say this, Steve Ballmer did the right thing in this case, especially if Allard was so tied to his vision of how the device would work/be used and what it would offer that he wouldn't accept suggestions about where he could add functionality to bring it more in line with other company goals.

    I mean, in my reading of the article I got the impression that the cancelation was less about aligning with Windows and Office and more about being a niche market instead of mass market device. I know very well that Windows and Office revenue streams get protected, sometimes to the point of strangling worthy new products, but if this device was really "all that" then it should have been possible to add those capabilities. I am left to guess that either adding that was actively resisted or there were other limitations that prevented them from being added, and if that were the case it would be an even bigger black eye. After all, if it wasn't possible to add those features, what else would developers not be able to add, and developers are another area that tie in to the Windows and Office revenue streams.

    • Sounds less like Ballmer and Gates were right and more like Allard was wrong in his response. Instead he should have said that they had plans for Exchange integration and it would be added in a service pack, because they wanted to focus their efforts on making sure that they had the best user experience possible, guaranteeing consumer loyalty to the new brand.

      Sad really, it could have been a great device.

    • by Angostura (703910)

      I think you are spot on. There's a huge hole in this story. Why did Allard simply not say "It doesn't have a fully-featured e-mail client at this stage, but we can easily add one"?

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      I still think to get hung up over the idea that it doesn't do email is stupid. Email could have easily been shoehorned in there. And saying that killing it because it doesn't do email is not the right decision.

  • One of the few projects there I thought was imaginative. Good thing Bill quashed or it might change Microsoft's image.
  • by Shompol (1690084) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:57AM (#37921298)
    Microsoft fosters a very competitive internal culture. Competition is not always good, as high level execs refuse to cooperate with each other, disregarding any potential benefits for the company. Here is one reference [engadget.com]:

    Dick's claim [is] that Tablet PC was doomed because the Office team refused to make a version of Office designed around stylus input

    And this is the original article from NYT: Microsoft’s Creative Destruction [nytimes.com] :

    When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn’t like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.

  • Come on, Microsoft. Is it sooo difficult to make a simple usable tablet? You should not run Windows on it, but a new O/S, partially based on Windows code, that has a different UI and your brandname apps recoded for this new UI.

    Every average Joe with two bits of common sense can understand that, why can't you understand that Microsoft?

  • I'm a self confessed Apple fanboy. I've done my fair share of laughing at Microsoft for failing in the tablet market. But it sounds like they really could have had something with the courier. The article mentions that Allard envisioned the device as something that complimented the pc, not something that replaced it. That was key to the iPad's success. Don't try to be the workstation, just focus on doing a few things well.

    This quote though really makes me think it could have been cool:

    The key to Courier, Allard's team argued, was its focus on content creation. Courier was for the creative set, a gadget on which architects might begin to sketch building plans, or writers might begin to draft documents.

    That is 180 degress

    • by b0bby (201198)

      That is 180 degrees from the iPad's model of being solely for consumption. I would love to see a device come to market based on that vision. Even the android tablets seem to be aping apple's hub of consumption model.

      I think you'll find that there are a lot more consumers than creators out there, and that a lot of creating doesn't lend itself to a small touch sceen (or even two of them). I like drawing on the ipad, but video or audio editing is just easier on a full computer. I do know a writer for a major newspaper who types his articles on his ipad, though. I suspect he's the exception.

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