Microsoft Courier – First Details

Courier

Courier is a real device, and we’ve heard that it’s in the “late prototype” stage of development. It’s not a tablet, it’s a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They’re connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft’s brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who’s spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies.

Image of what the Courier is like

Better look at the Courier

The Courier user experience presented here is almost the exact opposite of what everyone expects the Apple tablet to be, a kung fu eagle claw to Apple’s tiger style. It’s complex: Two screens, a mashup of a pen-dominated interface with several types of multitouch finger gestures, and multiple graphically complex themes, modes and applications. (Our favorite UI bit? The hinge doubles as a “pocket” to hold items you want move from one page to another.) Microsoft’s tablet heritage is digital ink-oriented, and this interface, while unlike anything we’ve seen before, clearly draws from that, its work with the Surface touch computer and even the Zune HD.

For an animated demonstration of this, look here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg7853cTtD8