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Innovation

Microsoft to show off Courier at CES? Call me highly skeptical

The New York Times has heard Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going to show off an HP multimedia slate during his opening keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 6. And suddenly, everyone's predicting the rumored Courier device is about to get its debut. Call me highly skeptical.

The New York Times has heard Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going to show off an HP multimedia slate during his opening keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 6. And suddenly, everyone's predicting the rumored Courier device is about to get its debut.

No one from Microsoft or HP is whispering in my ear, but I'm pretty certain we're not going to see the Courier multi-touch dual-screen device or anything remotely like it tonight. I think we're going to see yet another Windows 7 touch tablet running the PC version of the Kindle and/or Nook or maybe some other New York Times Reader type of software. I'm highly doubtful we'll see any new reader software from Microsoft, unless company officials deliberately misled folks by saying Microsoft isn't interested in doing an e-reader.

HP already makes a number of tablet and touch-screen PCs. And its rivals already have shown off some new Win 7 tablets in advance of the show. I'm betting the new HP machine will be nice, but no iSlate killer. I've already opined that I think the real killer device would be a small (5-inch or so screen) handheld with a real keyboard option, possibly running Windows Mobile. I'm 99% sure the HP slate won't be anything like that.

Update: MobileTechWorld says that the HP TouchSmart 2, which HP already unveiled this morning, is the likely "slate" that Ballmer will be showing. As I thought, another nice tablet running Windows 7 in a convertible form factor with a choice of touch or keyboard. I agree with them that this is likely what Ballmer will show off tonight....

Still, I'll be watching Ballmer's keynote tonight (via Webcast) and will let you know what else the Softies unveil. Like other Microsoft watchers, I'm hearing the planned Microsoft announcements are likely to be fairly low-key. Probably some more integration stuff (maybe the Facebook for Zune HD app that still hasn't been rolled out) and/or Xbox Live-related goodies. But I'm thinking we won't be seeing any Couriers or facsimilies until 2011 or later -- outside of more video mockups and canned demos.

Come back after 10:30 p.m. ET to see if I have to eat my words... and/or watch the keynote yourself from the comfort of your own living room if you skipped the Vegas festivities, too.

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