Microsoft Courier Pics Leaked - Two-Panel Pen Device Could Compete with iPad

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Several photographs of Microsoft's not-yet-announced Courier tablet device have been leaked to Engadget. The photos of what could be Microsoft's answer to Apple's iPad show a two panel device that folds shut like a book that is reliant on pen-based input.

These photos are in keeping with previous leaked images of Courier, and show a more refined product than was seen in photos leaked in the Fall of 2009. The images also offer some perspective and context for the size of the device, as seen in the photo below republished with permission from Engadget.

Microsoft has been working on Courier for some time, and the company reportedly wants to use the device to further its long-standing tablet efforts. According to Engadget, however, the device is likely based on Windows CE 6 -- the same OS that powers the Zune and the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 Series of smartphones due out later in 2010. Microsoft's previous tablet efforts have been based on a dedicated version of the desktop form of Windows.

Photo courtesy of Engadget

The device shown -- which we should stress is still in development -- is approximately 5" by 7" when folded, weighs just over one pound, and just over an inch thick when folded.

Engadget cited the source of the photos as a "trusted source," but product details are still vague. A shipping time frame of "Q3/Q4" was offered, but no word yet on pricing. The device could have a camera, and could also be at the heart of Microsoft's attack on the ebook market - the form factor more closely duplicates a traditional book paradigm than other e-readers already on the market, including Apple's iPad.

Engadget has also been given a couple of videos showing the interface in action.

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Wow…the UI looks awful…looks like you are poking around a rat’s nest with a stick.

Lee Dronick

On the plus side when closed the screens are protected. Also when folded it looks smaller than the iPad, but probably thicker. Anyway, until the product is announced it is just a rumor.

Lee Dronick

Plus if you need the stylus, EPIC FAILURE.

It would be handy to have the option of using a stylus for such things as drawing, but yes requiring it is probably not the best way to go. We iPhone and iPod Touch users already have the option of such things as the Pogo stylus


One with a screen didn’t do all that great, so two screens with a pen suddenly will?

Lee Dronick

One with a screen didn?t do all that great, so two screens with a pen suddenly will?

Your post got me to thinking about two screens controlled with either a finger or a stylus. How do you keep the thing from folding without a substantial hinge and lock mechanism?

Bryan Chaffin

I personally don’t think this thing should be rejected simply because it’s MS. This two-pane, like-a-book, paradigm could resonate with some people, especially if MS gets the interface right.

It’s the last part about which I personally have doubts.

Bryan Chaffin

Your post got me to thinking about two screens controlled with either a finger or a stylus. How do you keep the thing from folding without a substantial hinge and lock mechanism?

My assumption would be that it won’t hit the market unless they have a solution for that, Sir Harry.

Lee Dronick

My assumption would be that it won?t hit the market unless they have a solution for that, Sir Harry.

It’s the last part about which I personally have doubts. smile

Maybe it wouldn’t be a problem. With one hand you hold the device as you would with a book, fingers in the back and the thumb on the front. The other hand works the stylus. Anyway it is all speculation at this point.


Microsoft does have a pretty bad habit of showing off things they have yet to develop. To coin a famous expression, “real artists ship.”

Even so, the concept is pretty interesting - this is actually a lot closer to what I had imagined (or guessed) what the form factor of the supposed Mac Tablet/Netbook/Whatever might be, within the past couple of years - similar to a Nintendo DS. Frankly, this would seem a lot less destruction-prone than a big slate of glass. I’m far from being sold on a stylus interface though….

I would be more interested if they had a working prototype to show off. In the meantime, keep dreaming the big dreams, M$.


The video looks great to me - what that means for the final product, who knows? As to the stylus, if the unit does have handwriting recognition, it is a must. I write poorly enough, I don’t need to send my fat finger into the mix.  I always liked my Newton and the stylus was part of that.


Hmm. Now that I’ve watched the demo videos, I’m further in doubt. For the most part, that interface does NOT look intuitive - making people learn a whole new paradigm just to get around is a hard sell, in my opinion. Which makes a pretty interesting contrast to the direction Apple went with their iPad. On a side note, Windows has never been worth a crap and drag and drop - especially Explorer; sort of ironic that appears to be a major part of the UI for this device.

Handwriting recognition? Seriously doubtful they can pull that off; if not for MS’ slipshod engineering, then the millions of people out there with sloppy handwriting. Can anyone say, “Dear aunt, let’s double the killer delete select all” ?

George K.

These are not leaked photos of a product.

These are screen captures from a product concept video.

It’s a concept, not a real thing.

Think car show—when was the last time you saw one of the concept cars tooling around your neighborhood?


Think car show?when was the last time you saw one of the concept cars tooling around your neighborhood?

Yesterday. My neighbor happens to own a concept car from one of the autoshows….


Looks pretty cool to me, in a limited way, for limited purposes as shown, but cool. As presented, however, it would appeal only to a limited demographic. And I would be concerned that some of these nicer features might be tied too tightly to MS products.
All that said, the size is appealing and the ability to fold it up, protecting the screen. I would not discount this device if it ever launches, if they do it right, with open APIs building user communities.
But comparing it to what we now know of the iPad, it falls short for the general public, and the iPad has the built-in head start with all the apps in the App Store, and can be all things to all people. At the same price range, iPad wins hands down, but at, say, $150, Courier could succeed—higher if there’s more to it than shown.


And I would be concerned that some of these nicer features might be tied too tightly to MS products.

Why is that bad? One of the biggest complaints about Microsoft is that they don’t control the complete experience.

Any ways, the courier is very much a product of how Bill Gates works. Gates will write everything on a pad of paper, which is why I think so many touch screen products from Microsoft used styluses.


Why is that bad? One of the biggest complaints about Microsoft is that they don?t control the complete experience.

Good point about controlling the experience. I accept it from Apple, after all. And I’m not sure I would hate the stylus. I used them for years on Palms, but I’m sure most people would find the whole experience too much effort if the alternative is an intuitive iPad.

I think my point about fearing a too-propietary product stems from the possibility that it would be even worse than Apple’s in that way. Apple has managed a balance between control and an open system with the App Store, not perfect, but a balance. I’m not sure MS can catch that or even understand how to try.
These emerging products could present us with a new era of freedom-encouraging tools. I just don’t want to see them fail because they try to hold on to control too tightly. Because the one that eventually succeeds won’t.


As I understand it it works with multitouch and pen. and it’s presure sensitive like a wacom tablet - the iPad is not

The pen is much more useful for detailed work. I’d have one of these over the ipad anyday. Much more portable.


I am in sales and have clients sign applications regularly.  Luckily, I rarely need original signatures, so I do a lot of work via email.  If I could have a tablet and have clients sign right on the screen, I could be 99.9% paperless (once in a great while I need an original).  This is what I would love, and it would set me apart.  I know some laptops with touch screens that flip around and lay flat can do this, but a tablet would be really slick with this capability.

UPS has had this capability for a long time having receivers sign on a small unit.  I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on more.


I go to many meetings every day at which I have to take many notes.  It’s a constant hindrance to have to transfer all my pen and paper notes to the computer.  I can’t type fast enough on an iPad, and my colleagues haven’t yet accepted the idea of the clicking away on a computer during meetings.  This Courier tablet would solve all those problems.  If the real product is at all similar to the concept, I’ll be first in line.

Bryan Chaffin

So John, you’d rather write with a stylus than type on a virtual keyboard? To each his own, to be sure. smile


You can still use a virtual keyboard on this to type.  The cool thing about this Courier thing is that one screen can have the book, journal article, website, etc, and the other can be your electronic pad taking down notes on…..very cool. BTW, how many designers do you know that directly use their fingers and thumbs to draw with!!!!! That’s the beauty of having something that could recognise both…..a broader appeal. Think this would be widespread in classrooms.

Bryan Chaffin

In that this device isn’t released (or even announced) yet, and thus no one outside Microsoft has any experience with it, I’ll call fake grassroots shill on the last couple of posts.

That’s a tactic Microsoft has used in the past.

Happy to be wrong, and if you like Courier, more power to you, but something frankly doesn’t smell right. smile

Bryan Chaffin

In fact, we (i.e. Stephen) did some digging and found that those last two pro-Courier posts came from the same IP address.

Shill, I name thee “Darran” and “John.”


Busted cold. wink


Well, Bryan Chaffin…..I am going to have to call you a lying fool then.  Unless some weird stuff goes on where I work (a medical research institute….nothing to do with the IT field, so no ulterior motive for my initial post other than just highlighting how something could be cool) and some dude has been hijacking my computer at night when I am not around and posting on an obscure website, then I reckon you (and your little ‘friend’, ‘Stephen’) are either stupid or lying.

It is quite surprising how such a short comment about how something MAY work that doesn’t even mention an Apple product or make any comparisons with anything else brings out such defensive mindsets in certain people.

I would say that the only thing that smells funky around here are the rotten apples.

So basically you are saying that any posts that are pro non-Apple products must be coming from the same person cos only 1 person in the world doesn’t dig Apples?!!!  Hmmmm, deluded.

BTW, I found this obscure website after searching for info on the Courier and hoping to find something new about it that the other major sites (Endgadget, Gizmodo, etc) didn’t have. Came across this website and after reading all the comments I just couldn’t believe how myopic they all seemed after reading comments from all the other websites (which included both pro- and anti-sentiments), so I thought I would try to highlight how this thing could actually be useful (whether or not it ever comes to market)....obviously the thought of a company even daring to THINK or entertain the idea of producing something groundbreaking gets a certain subset of the human race in to a little bit of a tizzy and exhibit irrational behaviour.  I could see that you are the kinda of person that needed counseling after NSYNC, Boyzone, Take That, etc, broke up.

Bryan Chaffin

Well, Darran, I doubt I’ll be able to recover from such an attack.

Be that as it may, you and “John” did post from the same IP with unregistered accounts, and your comments both had a similar rah-rah feel to them. In addition, Microsoft has tried fake grassroots marketing in the past.

That combined to cast suspicion on your post.

That said, unless the My Grass Roots Marketing Campaign? handbook includes instructions on insulting the host site and its staff when called out, I appear to be wrong.

And as I said in my first response, I’d be happy to be wrong.

In the meanwhile, I’ll check with Microsoft’s PR firm. You know, just in case…Assuming they’ll take a question from such an obscure site, of course.


TBH, I don’t feel that my first post had much of a ‘rah-rah’ feel to it..just thought I would highlight how this thing could work, which no one else had seemed to point out on this site. I understand this is an ‘Apple website’, but I wasn’t quite expecting such a defensive front to my post, after all you had run the story about the Courier in the first place without any negative opinions expressed. I wouldn’t have made a comment if there had been a derisory tone within the article as I could have not expected a pleasant response,etc. I don’t know, maybe if someone comments on an Apple product on a ‘Microsoft website’ you get the same response as I did, in which case perhaps I can understand peoples behaviour on this one…..didn’t quite realise though how strong the vitriol is between the two parties.

BTW, my post wasn’t meant to be to insulting (trying to control that side of my personality after it has got me into some unsavioury situations on a footy/soccer field) but I was slightly perturbed at being told that I was basically some nutter that posts multiple messages on a website under different names due to being a blind follower of Microsoft.

I am not even a blind follower of my footy team (Liverpool…yeah, they’re crap this year) and I will not defend/promote something unless I feel there is something there worthwhile.  BTW, there are no hidden jibes meant at any of you with regards to following Apple, etc. Although, if Microsoft (or Apple!) is reading this and wants to pay me loadsa money then of course I will promote/defend/attack anything they tell me to!!!


Seems a nice device. Good for students, journalist, artist, bloggers etc

Having the ability to take notes is great - someone mentioned it negatively against typing but in meetings watching power points presentations,listening to people, brainstorming you cannot sit there staring at a device whereas writing notes aka paper style is very easy.

Students could have a text book open on one page, listen to lecturer and take notes at the same time on a project page. Highlight pages, sentences it has a great project feel about it.

I do not see this as having the same aims as the ipad which is much more media/social networking - courier seems a more artist/creative and business tool.

This is all academic though as it is unlikely to ever see light of day.


Just to add to my above - imagine a pocket sized version of this  I think Microsoft are after people who do projects, writing, drawing and design not a media centre type item.

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