Could Office 15's 'Moorea' bring back elements of Microsoft 'Courier'?

Summary:New screen shots, allegedly from an internal milestone build of Office 15, show that Microsoft is making good on hints to add a new application to its next version of its Office suite, expected to ship around 2013.

New screen shots, allegedly from an internal milestone build of Office 15, show that Microsoft is making good on hints to add a new application to its next version of its Office suite, which is expected to ship around 2013.

Those screen shots show a new multimedia-focused application -- or possibly just a new feature -- codenamed "Moorea." (Its tagline is "everything you need in one place.")

In January, Microsoft Office execs told some of us press/blogger folks that Microsoft planned to continue to hone with Office 15 “creation experiences,” like video and image editing. They also confirmed that Microsoft might opt to add a new application to the Office 15 suite when it debuts.

Think back to the axed Microsoft "Courier" dual-screen tablet for a moment. Forget about the hardware and focus on the software that was shown in some of those Courier concept videos that leaked to the Web. Remember the OneNote-gone-one-better interface -- the look and feel that was like a Franklin Covey planner on steroids?

I'm wondering whether Moorea (named for the French Polynesian island Moorea, I'd assume) is the culmination of some of those ideas.

From the very limited information discernible from those supposed Moorea screenshots, it looks like the app will allow you to insert various kinds of multimedia content in a common place. Kind of like a OneNote focused around multimedia content. I've heard that Office Labs General Manager Chris Pratley -- a k a Mr. OneNote -- possibly was involved in the creation of the Courier concept video, so... maybe Courier's software elements are alive, even if the device itself is dead?

Supposedly, the Courier software was tailored expressly for tablets, meaning it was designed to be touch- and stylus-centric from the get-go. If Moorea brings this interface to life, maybe Microsoft will position Moorea as a "killer app" for the coming Windows 8 tablets/slates?

Yes, I am totally guessing here. Microsoft officials still won't talk about Office 15, other than to acknowledge the product is in development.

What's your take? Based on the alleged early leaks, what do you think Moorea is? If not the Courier interface/experience, maybe it's some kind of take-off on the Microsoft "SmartFlow" project -- an intended competitor to Adobe Lightroom? Or maybe Moorea is simply a new multimedia-focused feature within Word 15 or OneNote 15? Other guesses, educated and not, are welcome.

Update: A couple of Twitterers (Twits?) wonder whether Moorea is actually more like the Microsoft Office Labs Canvas for OneNote project than anything else. Definitely could be. Here's the description of that concept test (which Microsoft closed to testers a while back):

"Canvas for OneNote allows you to navigate and edit notebooks in a new way by providing a high-level canvas-view of all your content. The prototype lets you zoom and pan around; view and organize content in new ways; add new pages right where you want them; and even locate pages in a timeline view."

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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