Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Microsoft Portables Hardware

Microsoft's Touted iPad Rival Courier Becomes Less Than Vapor 401

Kostya writes "The much discussed Courier two-panel tablet device from Microsoft is now even less than vaporware — now it's just plain dead. 'Microsoft execs informed the internal team that had been working on the tablet device that the project would no longer be supported.' While the Courier had never been officially announced as a supported product by Microsoft, it had generated a lot of discussion as what the iPad should have been."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft's Touted iPad Rival Courier Becomes Less Than Vapor

Comments Filter:
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:09PM (#32038958)

    Hinge(Which can break) + Stylus(Which can go lost and is a lousy input device) = Fail in the long haul.

    Of course, I also believe that the iPad's losing out by not having an *optional* stylus tool for drawing, but that's just me.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:11PM (#32038972)

    Msft got HP to buy Palm so that HTC, or Google, could not buy Palm. Now, to repay HP for buying Palm, msft drops msft's own "iPad killer" thus eliminating a huge competitor for HP.

    Msft and Apple, hate and fear Android - they want to patent troll Android out of existance. HP has no special love for Android, because Android would not differentiate HP enough from the other Android tablet, or phone, sellers.

    HP is a very close partner with msft, with both PCs and phones. If either HTC, or google, bought Palm, they would be able to use Palm's arsenal of patents to counter-sue msft and/or apple.

    Pure speculation on my part, but it is quite a coincidence that the following all happened at the same time:

    Apple sues HTC
    Msft and HTC form a special patent deal
    HP buys Palm
    Msft discontinues Courier

  • Huh?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:22PM (#32039042)
    So, first time in years that Microsoft's concept of "innovation", which is really "just copy whatever Google or Apple or Sony do", actually WASN'T a stupid idea... and they kill the project? You've got to admit, this was much better conceived than the Zune!
  • Alternate theory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:25PM (#32039074)

    How about, HP was the only hardware maker willing to build Courier, but Microsoft's schedule was slipping and slipping so HP in disgust decided to buy Palm to use WebOS for the tablets it has lined up instead?

    Thus without a hardware backer, Microsoft had to close Courier for good.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:34PM (#32039154)

    Releasing Courier would seem like a copy of the iPad, something that Microsoft can't pump money into because it will be dead on release.

    But they can't afford not to try.

    As with WIndows Mobile 7, which comes off copying lots of iPhone things - all touch screen, lots of animation, locked down app store, etc. So if Microsoft really cared about only delivering products that were firsts, why are they even doing Windows Mobile 7?

    I think Courier was killed because it was really only ever a last-ditch attempt to slow down Apple and the iPad (Microsoft had to know a tablet was coming along at some point). Otherwise why even publicize the very scant details they had a year ago? If they killed it just now, why did they bother releasing a new concept video with the expense that entailed, just ahead of the iPad announcement?

  • Re:Touted? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @08:58PM (#32039356) Journal
    The problem for Microsoft and tablet support is that, while in strict engineering terms, tablet support is "something you add"(ie. wacom drivers, handwriting/ink support, some touch gestures, a demo app or two), in terms of design, UI, and pleasantness of user experience, tablet support is all about what you remove. It's like the old notion of "burning the boats" to inspire your army.

    As long as MS approaches tablet support as just a few optional features, that can be added as a superset of their primary OS, they may well be technically competent(I've heard that their handwriting recognition is actually pretty good, for instance); but they will, outside of tech-demo-ware and highly specific custom applications, never escape the massive gravitational pull of the gigantic install base of the touchless OS. At worst, their superset offering will be completely ignored. At best, it will find a few niches, and a reasonably broad adoption in the form of "pen=mouse" ports of existing applications. Since these applications won't be all that comfortable, manufacturers will back off from bold all-tablet designs, and just start churning out "convertibles", which are just laptops with a wobbly single hinge and a screen that looks like crap because of the digitizer layer.

    This is one of MS's major strength/weakness combinations. They have the resources(and some genuinely good people) to relentlessly add interlocking feature-set after interlocking feature-set to their products. However, because of their enterprise orientation, they are not good at the exotic, or the starkly cut down. Any innovation has to be capable of being tacked on to the gigantic interlocking feature mass. Any cut-down subset has to alienate as few 3rd parties and legacy customers as possible, and integrate with the feature mass as much as possible. On the plus side, this means that their stuff makes it relatively easy(if not wise) to build a towering enterprise stack, and then have it supported for years and years. On the minus side, it pretty much stomps on innovation, even where technologically possible.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @09:48PM (#32039720) Journal

    I remember when Microsoft was able to kill a platform like Go Penpoint with just a vaporware announcement.


  • by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @10:03PM (#32039846)

    So, my choices went from iPad vs Courier to iPad vs nothing else on the market, and this helped Microsoft in some way.

    When they went from XP vs. OSX to Vista vs. XP and OSX it sure didn't do much for their reputation, or stock prices for that matter.

  • Re:Tablets are dead (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:15PM (#32040262)

    To be blunt: yes, you're blind to a number of factors :)

    1. Form factor - The difference between a 2-3lb clamshell device and a 1.5lb, 1" thick slate is huge. Using a slate feels more like holding a magazine than a computer.

    2. Apps/Sensors/Platform - This is many things rolled into one. There is a thriving community of people buiding apps for THIS platform. This cuts to the heart of the flash issue, too: flash ports are crappy ports, as a general rule. The beauty of the apps for iphoneos platform is that they are built from the ground up to take advantage of the platform's capabilities: multitouch, accelerometer, ambient light, microphone. While a netbook struggles to play PC games, the iPad runs apps that play to its strengths.

    3. Multitouch/UI: Like the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad is built around multitouch. We sorta take the iPhone's UI innovations for granted at this point (what other multitouch devices can you name, pre-iphone?), but the iPad's larger size is even better suited to this UI. The other big change with the iPad is that most apps are orientation-agnostic: It works no matter which way you hold it. Another thing that will be "common sense" in a few years as slates flood the market, but remember where you saw it first ;)

  • by DuranDuran ( 252246 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:47PM (#32040452)

    > Dual folding screens were always a non-starter

    Yeah, Nintendo found that out the hard way with all the millions of Game and Watches [] they sold.

  • Re:Tablets are dead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Friday April 30, 2010 @12:31AM (#32040688) Journal

    I've been observing with great amusement the geek outrage over Apple's closed, locked-down ecosystem, starting with the iPod and iPhone, and culminating with the iPad, and I say: more power to Apple .

    Oh, this won't end well.

    Manufacturers have placed general-purpose computers into the hands of the masses, and what have we gotten in return? Mountains of spam, malware galore, and tens of millions of zombie boxes.

    The only difference is that when the same thing happens to the iPad -- and it has happened to iPhones -- you'll have a proprietary monoculture that's wirelessly connected, even over a cell network (so always, always on), and it will be the sort of thing that is that much more difficult for us geeks to deal with. A desktop computer, if something goes wrong, you may not be able to fix it, but we can. Something goes wrong with your iPad, you can either jailbreak it or take it to Apple.

    Now, you can get most of the supposed advantages you're talking about with Android. A centralized app store, a pretty UI, but the sanctioned ability to get apps through other means if you really want it. Keep in mind that the average user isn't likely to do that, any more than they're likely to jailbreak their iWhatever, but I'd much rather have the option than not.

    The irony is that we've had just such a geek paradise for most of a decade -- any popular Linux distro is going to have a large repository of free apps, all of which have gone through some sort of quality control, and are delivered securely. Users can install third-party apps, but it's a channel that geeks avoid and ordinary users won't necessarily understand.

    The overwhelming majority of people don't need a computer with a general purpose operating system.

    The overwhelming majority of people don't need a computer at all.

    But to the extent that they "need" a computer, they need certain things which tend to work well on a general-purpose computer, with a real, actual keyboard.

    They need an iPad or something like it - an appliance

    Here's where I'm confused: The appliance thing was tried, extensively, in the late 90's. Remember WebTV?

    Why do you think this will be any better?

    Apple is going to sell a lot of iPads.

    That much is certain. What I find puzzling is that you seem to be happy about this.

  • Re:Tablets are dead (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ekhben ( 628371 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:19AM (#32041264)

    If you can't, given a multi-touch surface and five seconds, come up with at least one decent way to pull off hover, you're either an idiot or a liar.

    I didn't see even one decent way to pull off hover, and I'm sure you took more than 5 seconds to post that. Which are you?

  • by Joe U ( 443617 ) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:10AM (#32043768) Homepage Journal

    So they announce the end of the project when the iPad hasn't been out a full month yet. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep going for a year?

    Sorry, I think you're all tilting at windmills. Apple should worry about the project that Google has planned, not Microsoft.

    Microsoft doesn't sell hardware unless it drives OEM software sales. Google has no problems taking over Apple's market.

    Microsoft doesn't want Apple to fail. Microsoft wants Apple and Google to keep busy so they can keep selling to Dell, HP and other OEMs.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein