Microsoft nixes plans for its dual-screen Courier tablet

Microsoft has decided to cancel Courier -- the next-generation tablet that was in incubation at the company. Pieces of the Courier project still may materialize in other Microsoft products at some point, but there are no concrete plans to that effect, Microsoft officials said on April 29.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has decided to cancel Courier -- the next-generation tablet that was in incubation at the company.

On April 29, Gizmodo was the first to report Microsoft's decision. Corporate Vice President Frank Shaw gave me the same statement he gave to Giz:

"At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. 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. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time."

I'm kind of surprised at the timing, given Microsoft recently confirmed to The New York Times what I'd been hearing for the past few months: That Courier was on track to hit the market in 2011+. Word is the decision to nix Courier happened in the past week or so.

Courier was going to be a kind of "Franklin Covey planner on steroids," according to early mock-ups of the product. Supposedly, Chief Experience Officer J Allard was the main mover and shaker behind the Courier project.

Courier was an incubation project, meaning it was closer to being commercialized than a Microsoft Research project, but not yet actually in the production pipeline.

Microsoft has had -- and continues to have -- a number of incubation projects active at any given time. The Midori operating system project is another incubation project at the company. NetDocs -- Microsoft's precursor to Office Web Apps, which the company decided to kill in the early 2000's -- was another.

I'm still expecting Microsoft to commercialize some of the technologies that comprised Courier at some point. Maybe they'll show up as part of the Windows 8 or Windows 9 operating system. Who knows...

Microsoft is not commenting on why the company decided to eliminate the Courier incubation. Theories, anyone?

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