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Microsoft Windows Hardware

The Story Behind the Demise of the Microsoft Courier Tablet 200

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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:51AM (#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.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @11:33AM (#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.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @11:34AM (#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.

Truth is free, but information costs.