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Microsoft Courier

Posted 11-04-2009 at 03:20 PM by pereb

Say what you want about Microsoft, but they are having quite a good 2009. First came the revamped Zune HD, then came Windows 7, and now…Microsoft Courier.

What is it you ask? Well with the craze in e-book readers lately and the advancement in “touch” technology, the Courier is a “tablet” engineered by Microsoft themselves. However, Microsoft refers to their new project as a “booklet” instead of a tablet because…well it is designed like a book. The current design of the Courier has the “booklet” rocking two 7 inch screens that support multi-touch gestures and can be used with a tablet pen. The middle/spine of the “booklet” has a iPhone-esque “home” button and a “Library” button. In my opinion, the leaked pictures of the Courier show a beautifully designed product that makes you wonder “what-if” Microsoft designed their own products.

The functionality of the Courier aims to combine media, e-books, and productivity (such as taking notes, creating a presentation, designing, PDF, etc.) in one “journal” format. The multi-touch gestures let you search, move, copy, clip, zoom, and probably more. The clip, tuck, & paste feature is one of the most innovative UI features as it allows you to “clip” something (a picture for example) and “tuck” it to the spine of the “booklet” where you can copy or move the item to either side of the screen. Another great feature so far is the”smart” tablet pen that is designed to have two buttons, an eraser, and a twisting mechanism. Pressing the front button on the pen lets you quickly choose different pens and colors. The twisting mechanism probably brings up a more robust set of drawing tools. The eraser is straightforward, while the top button is a dedicated “undo” button. From watching the demo, the pen is so natural that users will not have to guess about the pen. It may not be new to tablet users but with the added multi-touch gestures, the pen is bound to be a workhorse. The UI uses a lot of Cover Flow to access content, moving page to page is as easy as “flipping,” and the “Library” is the main file system to access all your files. Lastly there is hints that this product will rely on cloud computing. So lets say you create a presentation in San Francisco and your clients in Chicago need it, just publish your presentation and they can access it. It probably is not a surprise to say that powering the OS is Windows 7. My first impression from the demo alone show that the Courier is trying to take the guesswork out of how to use it. It just seems to work and feel natural so that users can get to work quickly and efficiently.

Since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed he did not know of Courier, consumers probably will not be seeing this product on the market right away. Gizmodo and CNET say that Courier is projected for a mid-2010 release but still has to undergo further in-depth testing. As of now, Courier probably does not apply to everyone but expect journalists, project managers, designers, e-book readers, and students to make up the bulk of users.

…hell if Ford can turn in profit, why can’t Microsoft design their own gorgeous products?
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