Although it was never officially acknowledged, Microsoft’s Courier folding tablet concept stirred more excitement among tech watchers than any of the company’s actual recent products. In fact, when rumors said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would show off some sort of tablet at CES in January, there were hopes it would be the Courier (see “Tablet buzz could give Ballmer a headache”). The spotlighted gadget turned out to be an HP slate running Windows 7, which inspired somewhat less enthusiasm. Now it appears neither will see the light of day.
The Courier is gone for sure. Microsoft on Thursday confirmed both its existence and its demise, chalking it up as a valuable learning experience. “At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated,” said Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw. “It’s in Microsoft’s DNA to continually develop and incubate new technologies to foster productivity and creativity. The ‘Courier’ project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings.”
Meanwhile, according to a source talking to TechCrunch, HP has also decided to write off its Microsoft slate as a learning experience, one that may have been more expensive than valuable. The tablet was expected to reach the market in midyear, but the source says HP just wasn’t happy with Windows 7 as a tablet operating system. And considering that HP just acquired its own snazzy mobile operating system with the purchase of Palm, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise (see “By grabbing Palm, HP weakens Microsoft’s hand”). Getting Palm’s webOS all spruced up for tablet duty will take a while, but if HP wants to make a quicker entry, there’s always Google’s Android to play with.