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Microsoft's Touted iPad Rival Courier Becomes Less Than Vapor

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the courier-dropped-it dept.

Handhelds 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."

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401 comments

On the upside though... (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038790)

I bet you can BING some awesome reviews and success stories about this tablet anyhow.

*snicker*

Re:On the upside though... (1)

teh31337one (1590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038888)

It was an awesome concept. Sad to see it go :(

Re:On the upside though... (4, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038924)

Ya, it would have been nice to see Bing come out as a good competitor to Google, competition really does push everyone to improve... sucks that it had to die...

Oh, you meant the Courier? Ya, that thing was cool.

Re:On the upside though... (3, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038976)

It's too wonderful and too practical a concept to be gone for long.

Re:On the upside though... (5, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039100)

It's too wonderful and too practical a concept to be gone for long.

Yeah, Microsoft finally canned it because it was so wonderful and practical...

The video that went out right around the time the iPad was announced was a concept video. It was a rendering and not an actual product or even a prototype. Pure, unadulterated vaporware whose only purpose was to get some people disinterested in the iPad. And it appears to have worked. There are numerous Slashdot posts about how, "I don't want an iPad, I'm waiting for MS's Courier." This is one of Microsoft's oldest tactics, vaporware.

The thing about vaporware is that it's vaporware for the very reason that's it's both wonderful and *not* practical. It's biting off more than you can chew, so of course it has to be wonderful (easy to do when it doesn't even exist), and it's not practical since if it were, it would either exist, or if it doesn't exist yet, it would be something you'd not want to show off until it's just about finished since someone else could presumably beat you to the punch (if it's so practical, after all).

ov Vaporware (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039218)

Vaporware is the ultimate refining of the process of "Overpromise, Underdeliver".

In other words, when you promise everything, and deliver nothing.

Though the basic premise of overpromise/underdeliver has always a basic theme in I.T in general. You're making promises you know you can't deliver, to an audience that is in no position of expertise to question what you say, and in their dependent state, has to believe you, and has no choice but to accept whatever you happen to actually deliver. (a process also known more commonly as "I.T. Consultant")

Re:On the upside though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039264)

The people waiting for MS's Courier probably wouldn't have bought an iPad any way.

Re:On the upside though... (3, Insightful)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039348)

Pure, unadulterated vaporware whose only purpose was to get some people disinterested in the iPad. And it appears to have worked.

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

It was only a fancy wish. (1)

itomato (91092) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039370)

They need someone like Jeff Han to develop the prototype first. Necessity is still the mother of invention, not the other way round.

Re:On the upside though... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039446)

It won't stay gone. The dual screen thing is very good idea. People still like closing their books and will want to close their electronic tablets too. Why Apple didn't do that I have no idea, but it would make perfect sense. Hell, combine a partially open tablet book like that and a wireless charge pad and you have a perfect picture frame for your desk when it is not in use or being charged or sync'd. (I just thought of this but I am not so smart so I guarantee you someone else already thought of it...)

Someone in China will make it and it will be available somewhere in the near future. I'm as sure of that as I am about iPhone knock-offs... already are some aren't there?

Re:On the upside though... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039118)

I'd like to take this opportunity to laugh in the faces of the Microsoft fanbots who actually thought this was a real product. Anyone with more than 2 brain cells to bang together saw it for what it was. Essentially, it was nothing more than a pathetic attempt by MS to try to distort the market for the iPad and blunt Apple's sales of their product. MS, you failed miserably. And now the "courier" no longer has a purpose so of course they are canning it.

The fact that so many people were fawning over literally nothing than some canned videos and mock-ups is just pathetic. You may or may not like Apple but while Steve Ballmer is going on about how good something might eventually be should they decide to release it, Steve Jobs pulls his products out of his back pocket and says, "Check this out, pick it up at 11 AM tomorrow morning."

Crap. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32038794)

The only tablet type device I've found mildly intriguing, and it's cut. That sucks.

Re:Crap. (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038858)

and your surprised?

anytime MSFT does anything remotely awesome it gets canceled or morphed into a piece of shit.

what did Microsoft actually do? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039046)

You have exactly one VP saying that the product was real, but was shitcanned. Besides that, there's some leaked computer generated videos and pictures of an alleged product.

You're mourning the fact that a puff of vapor got carried off by the breeze. That's not awesome, that's standard operating procedure for Redmond; unless by awesome you mean "marketing bullshit that never has to withstand real world use and criticism," in which case, spot on.

Re:Crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039048)

They were probably one company out of dozens thinking the iPad was gonna come out near $1000 and they could sell millions of their own devices for $600-800 saying look at all the more stuff you can do with it. But for $500, there was no way to reap insane profits from it and the projects were killed.

I's not dead, it's resting .... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038800)

In other news, Microsoft and Apple announce a new search engine licensing deal.

Well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32038812)

... darn.

Tablets are dead (4, Funny)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038824)

Lets face it, 'tablets' are dead. You are essentially paying more for less. While there will always be a small niche market for tablets, there aren't any benefits for the general consumer when compared to a laptop, -especially- when they are running dumbed-down OSes.

Neither the iPad nor Courier have (or would have in the case of MS's canceled project) any real advantages when it comes to getting work done than a regular Netbook or Laptop. I can see the point of a low-priced tablet device, essentially a large, sturdy smartphone for a -low- price. But when it comes down to it, its quite stupid to pay more and get less of a product and that is what tablets currently are.

Re:Tablets are dead (4, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038950)

Er, the ipad is selling hugely. This is the start of the era of tablets, so no they are not dead.

The advantage they offer over laptops and netbooks is a tactile natural way to consume media at your leisure i.e. while you're on the sofa.

They won't replace laptops or desktops or anything else, but they're here to stay.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039028)

Er, the ipad is selling hugely

At the moment. But will Apple really be able to carry the momentum once people start realizing theres nothing really -great- about the iPad?

The reason why the iPod got marketshare so quickly was because it was the smallest media player for the space at the time and had a decent UI. The reason why the iPhone got marketshare because at the time it was the only way you could browse the web decently from a phone.

But, I don't know if I'm simply blind to some hidden factor but I don't see the appeal of the iPad. I don't mind Apple products (I'm listening to an iPod touch on my desk at the moment) but I just feel like you are paying more to get less. For $500 I can get an iPad which will only run a very limited set of applications, eventually will have simi-multitasking, won't ever get you the full web, costs an arm and a leg to use common peripherals, etc. Or I could get a $500 laptop with a dual-core x86 CPU, run just about every OS under the sun, full multitasking, cheap 'apps', full peripheral support, replaceable battery, etc.

I use my netbook or laptop while sitting on the sofa all the time, if I want to really "consume media" I fire up my HTPC and put on a movie. If I want to play a game I fire up my 360 or modified Wii.

Some specialty devices I can understand, like e-ink e-readers because they have features (e-paper that is easy on the eyes) that other systems lack. With the iPad, what benefit are you getting for the cost?

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Insightful)

noewun (591275) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039170)

At the moment. But will Apple really be able to carry the momentum once people start realizing theres nothing really -great- about the iPad?

The very same thing was said about the iPod and the iPhone, and look where they are now.

The era of the geek driving computer development is dead: people want easy to use features, and Apple is giving it to them. The era of clock speed, bus speed and VRAM capacity being important for selling computers is over as well. These things will still matter for select user bases--programmers, gamers, scientific use, graphic design, audio/video and other--but, for the vast number of average computer users for whom web, email, music, word processing and simple video are all that's really important, the iPad and its children are the future.

It will be interesting to see what people are saying about the iPad this time next year, when Apple's sold 25 million of them.

Re:Tablets are dead (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039294)

hahah you think the iPad will reach iPod or iPhone levels of sales? you must be an iTard.

Re:Tablets are dead (5, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039176)

won't ever get you the full web

The problem I have with all these technophiles decrying the iPad's lack of flash is this: are you not the same group that beats down any flash site? FFS, slashdot is the place that puts [PDF WARNING] next to links. If anyone was going to complain about the lack of flash, this is the absolute last group of people I would have expected.

I could get a $500 laptop with a dual-core x86 CPU, run just about every OS under the sun, full multitasking, cheap 'apps', full peripheral support, replaceable battery, etc.

As I said in reply to the OP, the problem is that full PCs are simply too much machine for what many people want to do (watch a show, check facebook, etc). A $99 iPad would be a true game-changer, and I think something along those lines is the next step. At this price point, people (like you) get confused because of the price and say (as you did), 'but... look at the sweet box I could buy for $500, I don't get it!' The point is that my mom and my wife and many like them don't care in the least if they have a sweet box. They care if they can "like" timmy's facebook status.

I use my netbook or laptop while sitting on the sofa all the time, if I want to really "consume media" I fire up my HTPC and put on a movie. If I want to play a game I fire up my 360 or modified Wii.

Your geek factor (Look at me! HTPC! Check me out! Modded Wii!) is what's keeping you from seeing this market. Not everyone uses computers the way you do, and not everyone derives the same satisfaction from setting up their own rad HTPC setup. My wife is perfectly content to watch DVDs, out of a box, on her laptop. I thought that was madness when I first saw it. Fact is, people compute in different ways.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039244)

" I thought that was madness when I first saw it"
please tell me she was watching 300.

"That is madness"
"This IS COMPUTING"

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

maitai (46370) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039288)

The "average consumer" also wants to play flash based games. Especially their younger children which seem to be drawn to those sort of things.

And they don't care if it's flash or not, just if it works or not.

Re:Tablets are dead (4, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039338)

The "average consumer" also wants to play flash based games. Especially their younger children which seem to be drawn to those sort of things. And they don't care if it's flash or not, just if it works or not.

I hear you, although I think your first statement contradicts your last statement a little bit. I'd rephrase it, "the average consumer wants to play simple games." The app store has boatloads of popcap-like games, many of them free.

True that they may not be able to play $THIS_SPECIFIC_GAME, no doubt. Although I've been thinking about how flash games would even translate to a touch-based interface. Would you have to just display a soft keyboard? It wouldn't be using the device's human interface well if it did. What about hover states? This is all very confusing.

Re:Tablets are dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039328)

People need to know the "best" way to do things. Seeing as you're posting on slashdot, you are obligated to teach your wife that watching a DVD on a laptop is only preferred if you have no TV/surround sound setup.

If you weren't so cheap you would have a decent setup for your wife and you to watch TV and/or DVDs without "computing in different ways". Insert DVD, switch input to DVD Player and go!

It is really that simple.

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039360)

A $99 iPad would be a true game-changer, and I think something along those lines is the next step.

Yes, if it cost one fifth of its present cost, it would be nice. It does not.

My wife is perfectly content to watch DVDs, out of a box, on her laptop. I thought that was madness when I first saw it.

(Emphasis added.) Odds are her laptop was cheaper than an iPad.

Which doesn't, I should add, play DVDs. A casual TV watcher could have replaced their TV with a laptop last year between Hulu and (ordinary mail-order) Netflix.

The iPad will never be there. The screen is too small.

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039234)

What you mean to say is YOU don't have a use for one.
I've heard this same argument about net books, smartphones, and ebooks.

While the iPad is a less then stellar attempt at a tablet, this is another story:
http://wepad.mobi/ [wepad.mobi]

Explanations (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039252)

At the moment. But will Apple really be able to carry the momentum once people start realizing theres nothing really -great- about the iPad?

They would not be selling hugely if there were not things people found great about them NOW. Marketing can only get you so far, and marketing only helps Apple much because people have grown to trust Apple more than other companies.

But signs point to iPad sales climbing. They just got a big boost from Oprah (formerly champion of the Kindle), they also have had to move back international release dates. And at this point, people thinking about buying one can try them out in Apple Stores and figure out if they are great or not.

With the iPad, what benefit are you getting for the cost?

An excellent screen (which really matters if you care about eye strain) over any normal screen for a device in that price range.

Tens of thousands and soon hundreds of thousands of applications dedicated to operation by touch, and used in that form factor. Yes you can buy a netbook but few applications work well in the screen sizes most netbooks support. This is such a massive benefit I can't believe it is constantly overlooked.

Compact size for the battery life - sure some netbooks also have good battery life, but they are a lot larger.

A world of peripherals that all work via the dock connector.

A fantastic data plan ($15/250MB/month or $30/month unlimited, no contract).

And let me repeat the thing about many, many developers working hard to write software that works really, really well on the device vs. running software that was built for a desktop and "works OK" on a netbook.

On a side note, you and so many other people are so mistaken about the iPad being only for consumption, or even consumption focused... That is not the end game.

Re:Explanations (-1, Flamebait)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039334)

It's pretty clear that you think in an adjective, adjective way about things. Are you sure you're not in marketing?

Re:Tablets are dead (4, Insightful)

jamie(really) (678877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039318)

I was ill for two days this week. I grabbed my iPad and watched some new shows that I've not had time to check out. ABC's iPad app let me watch Castle and V in 720p. Then I watched some movies on Netflix. I also bought the latest book from Steven Erikson using iBooks.

It wasn't too heavy.
It has a bigger screen than my netbook, and its stunning.
It didn't get too hot like my netbook does when watching movies. I *hate* frying my balls.
The wife's netbook can't watch 720p movies at all.
I didn't have to have it plugged in, so I could move it about easily while I tried to get comfortable. Charged it overnight.
When I was done puking, I wiped it clean with disinfectant.

I'm not sick all the time, of course. The wife uses it and her iPhone. Her netbook hasn't been touched for months. The iPad is "just" a more usable iPhone for her. Its set up with her email, not mine (and she did it herself - amazing what she can do when I'm not around). I will be buying two more for our children.

got to love the fud (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039426)

First it is "the iPad won't sell".

Then when it is selling, the claim is "it ain't running out" when figures show Apple just ordered more then at previous introductions.

then when it sells half a million, it won't last...

Oh and lack of flash will kill it despite more and more sites ditching it.

Face it, Jobs has done it again. Move on and start predicting his fall for the next gadget.

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039064)

"The advantage they offer over laptops and netbooks is a tactile natural way to consume media at your leisure i.e. while you're on the sofa."

Funny, I didn't know I can throw up on empty stomach.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039104)

Once upon a time, pet rocks sold hugely. More sales does not equate to a more useful product.

Re:Tablets are dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039212)

When the product is from Apple it does. No other company benefits from unquestioning hyperbole in the popular media over its products. Every. Single. Fucking. TV. Show. now has all their characters using MacBooks, iPhones, iPod's and now iPads. It is the fucking computer equivalent of a genital rash. Those who have it, spread it, and those that don't, fuck around until they get it.

Re:Tablets are dead (4, Funny)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039468)

Once upon a time, pet rocks sold hugely.

More sales does not equate to a more useful product.

More useful than what? It's more useful than a Microsoft Courier or a Palm Folio.

Re:Tablets are dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039224)

Why bother saying anything here? The Slashdot nerdcrowd has decided, against all prior evidence, that they have some idea of what actual regular people want, and it has been further decided that people don't want the iPad. I mean, sure, these nerds have no expertise in marketing and have no idea what normal computer users are after, but they are the intellectual elite of the Internet! They must be right.

Re:Tablets are dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039020)

Like it or not, the mass market doesn't like computers, they like a small set of things you can do with computers (facebook, puzzle games, porn, emailing Aunt Nelly, terrible attempts at DTP.) The iPad is a device that exists to scratch those itches and only those itches, with a brand name that rightly or wrongly screams ease of use and bourgeo-luxury. It can be a far -worse- value equation than a laptop and be valued for its limits, in fact.

Compare the popularity of automatic-transmission sedans and faux trucks (the new Explorer is a lifted Taurus, ffs) versus manual-transmission sporty compacts, games consoles versus entry-level gaming PCs, or proper restaurants versus buffets. The freedom to tinker comes with a compulsion to tinker, and unless you're an enthusiast already or your time has no value that's a negative.

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039058)

The freedom to tinker comes with a compulsion to tinker, and unless you're an enthusiast already or your time has no value that's a negative.

Generally tinkering can -save- time. For example, it takes me 15 minutes to create some keybindings for some of my applications. I'm sure over a year's worth of use I've saved far more time than those 15 minutes it took me to create the keybindings in the first place. Not only that but I can make things that are completely my own, and that quite honestly gives me more value to them than the default. I don't -want- my computer/devices to look like others, act like others or really be any other device other than my own.

Re:Tablets are dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039150)

You enjoy your computer being entirely your own. Do you enjoy your automobile being entirely your own, and having to special-order or fabricate all your parts and do your own maintenance? Do you enjoy your cooking being entirely your own, or do you like to relax with takeout or a frozen pizza?

Sure, you might rearrange your spice rack and be five seconds quicker on the oregano, but it only matters because you're putting in the effort to begin with.

Re:Tablets are dead (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039040)

When I'm on the Can/train/bus/plane(assuming wifi enabled flight)/couch, I really don't want to do work but I might want to look up Wikipedia articles on obscure CPU architectures or the reign of Polpot.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Informative)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039084)

I generally just read a dead-tree book when I'm on the can.

Laptops get too hot on the thigh skin, when your pants are down around your ankles...

:D

Re:Tablets are dead (4, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039054)

[tablets don't have] any real advantages when it comes to getting work done than a regular Netbook or Laptop.

Getting Work Done isn't the primary use of computers for a very large slice of the market. This is where you and many others fundamentally misunderstand the tablet space. Traditionally the market problem is that full computers are too much machine for the everyday user -- they want to check their Facebook, emails, read the news, and catch up on that show they missed last night on ABC. The iPad does all these things adroitly. Mom knows to touch the little "ABC" icon and then touch her favorite show. Actually, screw mom, I know that too, and I don't have to futz with Silverlight or Flash or Growl notifications popping up or emails dinging in the middle of a show.

Open your mind. Not everyone uses a computer the way you do.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039142)

Wow are you reading the wind wrong. Tablets are going to come in like a tsunami. The mobile space is moving at lightning speed to provide enough software that the need for a desktop is GREATLY diminished. WE are at the very beginning of the mobile internet appliance era. Its happening now. Apple was extremely wise in NOT delivering an x86 tablet and it has very little to do with control and everythign to do with being good enough for the vast majority of people. I could hand my mother-in-law an ipad and an Acer Aspire Revo ($200 nettop) to feed it, and she would almost never have to use the desktop computer paradigm again.

Re:Tablets are dead (3, Insightful)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039304)

I really fail to understand why people can't seem to get it. The big problem with tablets to date is that they run a version of a desktop OS that turns your finger or a stylus into a mouse and you still have to deal with various windows on the desktop, etc. Microsoft doesn't seem to get the point that the standard desktop OS does not translate well to a touchscreen device - there needs to be a complete re-factoring of the OS for the device, something that Apple seems to get. IMO windows tablets are annoying to use after awhile - I had a tablet PC for awhile and after the novelty wore off, I went back to my Thinkpad for anything other than casual web browsing.

The whole "getting more work done" argument really doesn't make sense in the context of the iPad. Of course you're not getting "work" done on an iPad, or any touchscreen only device for that matter. You're not writing code, doing graphic design or doing serious number crunching on a touchscreen. (and really, you're not getting serious work done on a netbook with a 9" screen and a cramped keyboard either - you CAN get stuff done, but I wouldn't use one and I don't think a lot of people would either). That's not the point of the iPad. It is however the point of Windows powered tablets, but short of using them to drive a power point or a specialized application, like in a doctor's office, you're not getting serious work done with the majority of applications without a keyboard.

Can an iPad replace a computer? Yes, if all you do is browse the internet, answer short e-mails, give a keynote presentation (that you developed on your desktop), play the occasional game, watch movies, and read books with it. I do not get the impression that Apple is selling the iPad as a computer replacement. Having said that I would much rather have an iPad than a netbook computer. I have a laptop and a desktop - I will use the iPad for the stuff I mentioned above, and I much prefer the form factor of a tablet for watching a movie, reading, etc. To me the $200-$300 premium over a netbook with a similar sized screen is definitely worth it.

The iPad isn't for you - we get that. Once Apple release iPhone OS 4.0, the iPad is EXACTLY the device and OS I want for the intended purpose, and I'm perfectly willing to pay $600 for it, and if according to you that makes me stupid, so be it. I wear a nice watch too, but my $40 Timex ironman actually keeps better time. I guess that makes me stupider.

The thing with the "dumbed down OS" (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039362)

is that companies always thought they were for things like Child's First Computer type of toy. Little did we understand that children come along with computers just fine, it was the adults that needed the hand-holding.

As iPad's sales are still going strong, many people still won't get it. They're usually the ones that understand how to get the computer to do almost anything.

Re:Tablets are dead (2, Insightful)

theJML (911853) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039374)

IMHO, Tablets like the iPad and Slate are what Netbooks tried (and are still trying) to be. Except that I'd be much more likely to carry a super thin battery efficient quick enough physical keyboard-less tablet than I ever would have been carrying around an underpowered netbook. If I needed what a netbook gives me over a tablet (a clamshell shape with a physical keyboard and laptop like experience) I'd just get a laptop. The netbooks are an example of a product looking for a market as is evident by the fact that they started as 7" screened almost palm-top's and now come in 12" sizes, larger than my ultraportable x40 full laptop.

I, for one, am hoping that netbooks go away and tablets take their price point. Though I have to say that I'm glad they were there as they taught some of the laptop and chip makers how to make better battery life lower power devices still be useful (With combos like the Atom + Ion using low power, but offloaded 1080p playback). Perhaps they were a necessary evolutionary step on the road to a tablet, in that case, I'm glad they were here, and am glad I didn't waste any money on them.

It's a shame ... (1)

jhhl (513935) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038832)

It was an intriguing design - trying to solve the problem of more information in a small, foldable space. Maybe someone will pick this concept up, patents willing. Then again, there's the roll-out computer [yankodesign.com] design.

Where Is sopssa? Where is He? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32038836)

Where's sopssa when you need him!? I hope that Courier touting MIcrosoft shill [slashdot.org] is reading this. He's going to need more than a hug after this news.

Hold on, I think I hear someone backpedaling.

Re:Where Is sopssa? Where is He? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32038970)

I think he's in a corner somewhere crying.

It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038856)

.....products it then never produces... its all part of market testing.

Re:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038886)

I'm pretty sure this was never announced anyway. Ballmer even denied the video when he was interviewed on the Engadget show a few months back.

Re:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038894)

considering how excited people seemed to be about the concept, I'd say it wasn't as much market testing as just too ambitious to be realized.Too bad really, it sounded like a concept which might have made tablets actually useful for everyday use.

Announce? (4, Informative)

linumax (910946) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038928)

AFAIK, Microsoft never really announced anything. They even went as far as calling it a rumor and at best some "sources" called it an incubation project [zdnet.com].

Announced product examples are Windows Phone 7 and Natal.

Re:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038942)

Plus, the time wasn't right. The entire Microsoft line of failed products happened not always because Microsoft's version was worse, but because it came across as Microsoft copying the industry leader. Lets see here:

The Zune looked like a copy of the iPod. The Zune HD looked like a copy of the iPod Touch. Bing/Live Search all seemed to be copies of Google. Etc.

Microsoft's products that have been successful have been those ahead of their competitors. Look at the 360 which got a few months head start on Nintendo/Sony and has been very successful (of course a lot of this could be due to the lack of decent games for the Wii and the astronomical price of PS3 hardware for the longest time...).

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.

If they cared about copying why WIndows 7 Mobile? (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039256)

the courier, as shown, was nothing like the iPad. I don't think they could engineer it.

Re:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039310)

The Zune looked like a copy of the iPod. The Zune HD looked like a copy of the iPod Touch.

What, in that both product lines play media? Maybe you just never used any Zune stuff but they don't behave anything like iPods or iPod Touches. Don't get so excited that you do nothing but post factless anti-Microsoft rants into this topic.

Oh, I'm too late to stop that. Never mind.

Piss. (1)

itomato (91092) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039410)

Thr products try to sidle up and say, 'I'm not only that which I imitate, I'm better.. Pay no attention..' while being so poorly implemented, they fail to be a decent product in their own right.

If they could have put a click wheel on it, they would have. Fucking everybody would have.

"testing"? Is that what they are calling it now? (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039006)

its all part of market testing.

And if the "testing" happens to kill a competitors product launch while people wait for the Microsoft product, well that was just an accident!

Happily there are very few product announcements from Microsoft people are willing to wait for these days it was apparent to pretty much anyone Courier wasn't going anywhere at slow pace of even delivering concept videos...

Re:It is not uncommon of MS to announce... (2, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039206)

Possibly. It's also possible that MS is privy to more accurate sales figures (and profit margins) from the iPad than the rest of us, and they decided it wasn't worth their time. And that could be because hardware margins are razor thin and the potential profit was not worth the investment, or it could be because they figured that everyone who wanted an iPad-like device would already have an iPad by the time MS could actually ship product. There's also opportunity cost to consider: MS may have been confident of producing a successful product, but decided that the same time and money spent elsewhere would generate greater returns. And finally, given the Crunchpad debacle, it may just be that they had a working design, but realized they couldn't source the parts cheaply enough for it to be competitive -- the iPad is expensive enough with its single screen, so it's likely that a dual-screen tablet would have been even more pricey.

Also worth considering is that Apple and Microsoft have very different business models. Where its "lifestyle" devices are concerned, Apple has an extensive infrastructure for providing add-on services and products -- iTunes and the App Store -- that Microsoft doesn't have. What could be a successful product for Apple might be a loser for Microsoft even if it was just as good and sold as well.

Touted? (2, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038910)

Never heard of the thing before now, and why would MS need an 'iPad killer'? They've had tablet support since Windows 3.11.

Re:Touted? (4, Insightful)

Amarantine (1100187) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038952)

They've had tablet support since Windows 3.11.

Yeah, and look how many Windows tablets you've seen in the wild since then.

I have only seen one with my own eyes. In use by a Microsoft partner account manager, so it kinda figures.

Re:Touted? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039022)

Yup, the market figured out that tablets are kinda dumb for most uses a long time ago. I still use one for network testing and such, but anything that requires actual data input still wants a keyboard with actual tactile feedback.

Re:Touted? (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039322)

Microsoft has yet to figure out that putting a desktop OS on a touchscreen device without fundamentally changing the way the OS works leads to a bad and muddled experience.

Re:Touted? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039356)

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.

What the iPad should've been? (2, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:What the iPad should've been? (2, Insightful)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039010)

I agree on the hinge, but a stylus is actually a very good input device for drawings and writing (as in script, not as in typing), actually it's probably the best one for those two activities.(Multi-)Touch, on the other hand, is very limited in terms of use in anything creative.

You can buy a stylus for the iPad/iPhone today (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039052)

There are already a number of makers of stylus for the iPhone, that work on the iPad.

They are somewhat wider than what you would traditionally call a stylus, but still allow for a more narrow contact. After all, children can use the devices just fine so that sets a lower bound on size...

Re:You can buy a stylus for the iPad/iPhone today (2, Informative)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039094)

Yeah, Pogo Stylus. Just wish Apple would've thought about it before a 3rd Party did. Still don't have an iPad yet, but once I get one, I'm getting me a pogo.

Pogo sylus pretty good (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039298)

Yeah, Pogo Stylus

I ordered several different styluses to test them all out, and the Pogo was much nicer than the others - a few others have rubbery tips that have too much resistance moving across the screen to move easily. The Pogo has a kind of sponge-like material that coasts across a screen much more easily.

I wanted to confirm that was a good choice.

Re:What the iPad should've been? (1)

Kantara (246758) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039092)

While Apple doesn't provide an option, I do want to point out that there is an 'optional' stylus via http://tenonedesign.com/sketch.php [tenonedesign.com] called Pogo Sketch. They also sell an app for drawing. While not the same app there is an article quote that is interesting about drawing vs wacom here http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2010/04/05/jim-lee-ipad/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Venturebeat+(VentureBeat) [venturebeat.com]

“fun and frustrating at the same time cuz half the time yer going this would be so easy to do by hand or wacom [a pen tablet device],

How freaking annoying (1)

jbeach (852844) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038966)

I was really, seriously looking forward to that device. It was everything I wanted that iPad was not. Even having two screens. It would have actually made me use Windows 7 voluntarily. Smooth move, M$.

Amazing really (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039220)

I know that I showed its demo to 4 die hard, fanatic iPhone _and_ Apple users and they were really impressed with it.

I don't think they will produce/demo anything that will impress those 4 guys in coming years. I can bet some people at Apple Inc. must be happy that concept was canceled.

Crazy conspiracy theory (4, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

Alternate theory (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Crazy conspiracy theory (1)

tomhuxley (951364) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039082)

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

You forgot to include the volcano ash cloud ...

Re:Crazy conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039112)

Look you retard, smart phones are a brave new world where you can differentiate based on OS. But if you're using windows mobile (or whatever the fuck they call it these days) or android, you're in the commodity business, dependent on someone else (less so with android but still), and profits will soon be minimal. But if you own the OS (ie, Apple, Palm, Nokia) and it doesn't suck (ie, Apple), you're printing money almost as fast as ben berbanke and turbo tax timmy.

Re:Crazy conspiracy theory (5, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039204)

The awesome thing about how Slashdot moderation works is your insane theory should make it to +5 in no time.

Excuse me while I grab some popcorn, this is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Dual folding screens were always a non-starter (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038978)

The idea seemed at first glance to be interesting, and was full of a lot of new concepts for how to use a tablet.

But I didn't see a lot of really practical ideas in there, starting with the dual folding screens. The thoughts of glass on glass, with slight torque in everyday carrying and average amounts of dust and grit...

Some of the other things in the videos seemed cool, but in everyday use again I just thought some of the actions would grow to be annoying. The central dragging area was kind of interesting...

Someone could easily carry on the concept with a special case that held two iPads, and some software to have them act in tandem over Bluetooth.

Re:Dual folding screens were always a non-starter (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039392)

You ever hold an iPad? They're heavy as bricks. Strapping two together would be good excercise but not enjoyable.

On the other hand (3, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#32038996)

It was planned to only allow installation of one font, a certain typewriter font, to make it run faster and create a consistent branding.
  This did not do well in focus groups, who showed a preference for being able to use Comic Sans and other fonts.

All we've ever seen were renders (0)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039034)

All we've ever seen were renders. It never WAS real. Show me a single video of it in real life actually running some kind of software (beta or not).

I remember the Longhorn mockup videos, where it demonstrated seamless interop between apps, WinFS, new UI. All of that was shown in about 2003, and it all looked awesome. Like the fucking FUTURE. Yet in the end we got Vista.

Huh?!? (3, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#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!

When Beta lost to VHS was similar (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039078)

When the Beta versus VHS wars were going strong - I had one of the few VHS RCA VCRs on my block. (really long block actually, about half a mile long)

Technically, the Beta VCRs were better, but it's really a market choice, and this is similar.

As we can see from the fall version of the iPad, some of the features in the Courier are in that version, or analogs thereof, such as a video camera (in the fall iPad it's a forward facing optional unit, as you can tell by the iPhone that got jacked and the design of the internal iPad h/w). Others aren't at this time.

Over time, expect the useful and marketable features of the Courier to be added, but for now, if you've got a Beta, it's time to realize switching time is here.

that crisis was over quick (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 3 years ago | (#32039116)

is anyone else disturbed that slashdot is linking to gizmodo stories again?
okay, i guess it's just me, sorry.

Go away and let us innovate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039250)

Oh yea. It's sooo easy to tell Apple what their product should have been; especially when you don't have to sell a product yourself. Hard to make a mistake then.

All the anti-Apple fanbois should register their complaint by buying a new copy of Office. Oh wait, you steal that, don't you. Clowns.

(I don't even like Apple, but you Apple bashers and Microsoft apologists are just too pathetic to tolerate in silence.)

This is a huge advance for Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32039302)

I'm amazing and think this represents a major step forward for Microsoft product development. Maybe they have learned something from the Zune, but it looks like they now know when something sucks! Pretty soon they'll learn how to figure out if something is good and then they'll be off to the races. Apple better watch out five years from now.

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