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Microsoft scraps the Courier dual-screen tablet

Posted at 30 April 2010 00:44 CEST by Jared Newman

Microsoft’s Courier, one of the cooler gadget concepts to arise from the tablet craze, reportedly won’t become a real product.

Microsoft confirmed to Gizmodo that the Courier project, whose design included two touch screens that fold closed like a book, has been canceled. Gizmodo had been reporting extensively on the Courier, breaking the original story and posting leaked photos and video of the unique-looking gadget. Last month, the blog even reported on a Microsoft job posting that supposedly confirmed the Courier.

But now, two sources say Microsoft has stopped supporting the project’s development. Additionally, a Microsoft spokesman said the company may evaluate the Courier in the future, but has no plans right now to build one. “At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them,” Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said. “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.”

The Courier concept excited techies for its emphasis on creation and productivity. It was supposed to be like a digital replacement for notebooks, sketchbooks and diaries, allowing for content creation on the fly using a stylus. In a leaked video, the user is shown dragging photos and spreadsheets from the Internet and e-mail onto a blank sheet of paper on the other screen, allowing for further editing. The user interface was unlike anything Microsoft has done with its Windows and Zune products.

It’s not clear why Microsoft is ditching the project now. As Gizmodo notes, the company may want to focus more on the upcoming Windows Mobile 7, which I suppose could always scale up into tablets. But the Courier’s approach was unlike a traditional operating system of any kind, which makes it all the more lamentable that we’ll never get to use one.

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