Microsoft's Courier: It Could Happen - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
9/27/2009
10:29 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
Commentary
50%
50%

Microsoft's Courier: It Could Happen

There was a lot of buzz last week about a new folding-tablet-style PC that Microsoft is supposedly developing. All of the reports seem to stem from a single Gizmodo rumor that includes a video demonstrating the interface. Whatever "Courier" is, there must be something to it because nobody makes a slick video like that for no reason.

There was a lot of buzz last week about a new folding-tablet-style PC that Microsoft is supposedly developing. All of the reports seem to stem from a single Gizmodo rumor that includes a video demonstrating the interface. Whatever "Courier" is, there must be something to it because nobody makes a slick video like that for no reason.My old buddy Mike Elgan argues that what we're seeing is just a concept and not an upcoming product. In short: It's just a research project, the demo video isn't showing real hardware, pen-based computing failed in the 1990s, and -- most of all -- Microsoft doesn't make PCs.

Although I see Mike's point, let me give you some counterpoints. First, this is not another "Pen Windows" of the type that Microsoft brought us in the mid-1990s. Notice that the video shows the woman using her finger, not a stylus. A stylus is just not as convenient as a finger because, well, I always have my fingers close at hand. And, that interface is not Windows. It may be running on top of Windows -- although even that is debatable -- but it's clearly optimized for its device. That wasn't true of Pen Windows.

Microsoft's attempt to move the Windows desktop interface to a handheld device was always a bad idea, but it took the iPhone to show what a good handheld interface might look like. In trying to keep a consistent Windows branding and developer environment for Windows Mobile, they created a miserable user interface. If that video is evidence that Microsoft is willing to break free of the standard Windows user interface, then it's a very hopeful sign.

Finally, Microsoft needs some innovative hardware to create buzz and bring people into its soon-to-open Microsoft Store locations. People can already see plenty of PCs at their local Best Buy, so Microsoft needs something unique, even if it's not something that a lot of people buy. It's not like Microsoft can't or won't build its own hardware. They've got mice, keyboards, XBox, Zune, and Surface, to name a few. So as far as Courier goes, it's not a stretch to think that Microsoft might build something like it.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
What Becomes of CFOs During Digital Transformation?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  2/4/2020
News
Fighting the Coronavirus with Analytics and GIS
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/3/2020
Slideshows
IT Careers: 10 Job Skills in High Demand This Year
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  2/3/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll