After the second leak of Microsoft’s Courier dual-touchscreen tablet, ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley has stepped in with some leaked information of her own. It looks as though our suggestion that the origins (and intentions) of Courier lie in Microsoft OneNote was accurate, with Foley’s source saying “The concept started as a software idea on how one would really build OneNote from scratch if you could for the Tablet form factor. That then morphed into building a tablet. If you look at the most successful pocket computer today – it is still the Franklin Covey Planning Products, the idea was how do you create a digital planner.”
As for the hardware itself, the Courier UI sits on top of Windows 7 apparently, though you can’t install regular apps on the device. Instead, it’s a way of getting past the constant hamper-point of previous Tablet PCs: that the UI simply isn’t formatted for pen-input. Those original Tablet PCs “failed because the applications were not tailored to a tablet form factor – that is, Word still had toolbars and menus and scollbars. So, a tablet needs to be like an iPhone – a UX that is specific for the form factor” the source continued.
Foley was also told that the Courier is an “incubation project”, and as such one step closer to commercialisation than a Microsoft Research project, and that the company hope to have it on the market by mid-2010. The source also said that Microsoft is considering building the hardware itself, as it does with the Xbox 360, rather than working with a third-party; that would certainly allow them to speed up the build process.