According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft has cancelled Courier, the folding, two-screen prototype tablet that was first uncovered by Gizmodo.
We're told that on Wednesday,
Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer Microsoft execs informed the internal team that had been working on the tablet device that the project would no longer be supported. Courier had never been publicly announced or acknowledged as a Microsoft product.
It appeared from the leaked information last year that a Courier prototype was probably near to completion. The combination of both touch- and pen-based computing was compelling. Perhaps the strong launch of Apple's iPad, currently the only available "mobile tablet" from a major vendor, caused Ballmer to reassess the commitment of Microsoft in a soon-to-be-crowded market.
We contacted Microsoft, who confirmed that Courier will not go into production. Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw told us:
At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.
It is a pity. Courier was one of the most innovative concepts out of Redmond in quite some time. But what we loved about Courier was the interface and the thinking behind it—not necessarily its custom operating system.
In fact, it makes sense for Microsoft to continue to trim away splinter versions of its core operating systems and focus on Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 unity across all its devices. Hopefully some of the smart thinking we have seen in Courier will find its way into Microsoft's tablets, whether they're powered by Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7.
If we hear anything more, we'll let you know. As always, feel free to contact me if you have additional details.