The first details of Microsoft's dual-screen Courier tablet sent everyone into a tizzy. Then Microsoft proclaimed Courier dead before ever officially acknowledging its existence. But wait: is this email from CEO Steve Ballmer reason enough to hope for Courier's future?
The message, sent in response to a Courier fan, is just vague enough that it could mean a lot or nothing at all:
Remember, Microsoft's Courier elegy did say that elements of the tablet could appear in other projects down the line:
At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them... 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.
So are those "future offerings" the "things" Microsoft's working on? Or are they "working on things" that would enable Courier to be a reality?
Worth noting, also, that Microsoft was granted a patent today for a "dual display device" that is, pretty clearly, the Courier. The timing's a coincidence—the patent was filed last year—but it indicates that at least at some point the company was earnestly trying to bring Courier to life. The filing even shows that Microsoft went so far as to hire an outside design firm to work on the project. That means the groundwork was laid.
So: does this mean Courier is back on track? Well, impossible to say, especially based on just a six word response. But even if that specific device turns out to have been vaporware all along, it's encouraging to see signs that Microsoft is at least working on bringing elements of the Courier to life. And the sooner the better. [Thanks, Hunter!]