Microsoft talks about the cancelled Courier booklet device

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Microsoft Courier at Build 2018
Image Courtesy: Brad Sams (Thurrott.com)

Back in 2008, Microsoft was internally testing a tablet PC with
two displays, and the device would have featured a booklet
design. The two displays with touch support faced each other in
a booklet form and it also supported stylus (pen). Microsoft
did work on Courier but the company never released it in the
market.

While Microsoft is working on a new mobile device similar to
the Courier digital Notepad concept, but the company
has always remained tight-lipped on the original and cancelled
Courier tablet. At Build 2018 developer conference, Microsoft
revealed what exactly happened to the Courier project.

The operating system of the Microsoft Courier was reportedly a
custom version of Windows. Steve Ballmer decided to cancel such
a device “because it didn’t have a clear platform or
developer story”.

“The reason Courier got killed was that it was another side
project, it was another thing we were playing with and it
didn’t have a clear developer story or clear platform
story,” Friedman said.

In other words, Courier was cancelled because it ran a custom
version of Windows, and it didn’t align with Microsoft’s
vision.

The rumoured device would have featured seven-inch screens
when the book was closed. The Courier was a secret project
and existence of such a device was only known by a few key
engineers. In 2010, Microsoft officially confirmed that
they were working on Courier but the company ultimately
cancelled the project.

The Courier could have been the ultimate device for creators –
as it featured two dual display, journal design and stylus.

Surface Andromeda – The future of mobile computing

Surface Phone concept

While Microsoft hasn’t discussed the rumoured Andromeda at
Build 2018, the company is still working on such a device. The
Andromeda (also referred to as Surface Phone by many) is a
project similar to Courier concept. The company is also working
on series of improvements for Windows 10 in order to deliver
the best experience on Andromeda.

The eagerly-anticipated Andromeda could be similar to the
Courier concept, and the operating system will be optimized to
run on this device with multiple modes. It certainly makes
sense as the device could come in the form of a digital
notepad with a foldable display. Microsoft will be using a
hinge to enable foldability and it could also feature several
form factors including phone and laptop modes.

With Andromeda, Microsoft is reportedly embracing the same
strategy as with the Surface laptops. The Andromeda would be a
premium device and it could convince Microsoft partners to
bring similar models to the market. However, remains to be seen
if Microsoft’s Andromeda could bring similar projects from
the partners or not.

In the past few months, several patents have revealed the
rumoured design of Andromeda and there’s a good chance that the
final version of such a device will feature a hinge. Needless
to say, the hinge would be the key component, as it happened
before on the Surface-branded laptops.

With Andromeda, Microsoft is also betting big on the Windows
ecosystem. The new version of Windows 10 called Windows Core OS
will offer a modular experience, and it will offer a similar
look and feel across on any form-factor device. Microsoft is
using Composable Shell (C-Shell), an adaptive shell to deliver
a modular experience.

Microsoft is basically trying to invent a new project category
but it remains to be seen if the Andromeda can succeed or not.
It’s not yet known if Microsoft is also pursuing a phone form
factor or not. Rumours that have been swirling around the
web suggested that Andromeda could see daylight rather sooner
than later.



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