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Microsoft Courier. Why Microsoft has it right this time

Over the years we have seen MS attempts to promote the next big thing, from the tablet PC running on windows xp with non-captive touch screens. To the ill-fated umpc that didn’t have the right OS or processor to boot. Through this process Apple has been acknowledged as the true innovator in the tech world, with the heralding of the Ipod, Iphone and stylish Mac books. This assumption might continue with its rumored Apple tablet (iSlate), speculated to debut in Jan 25th at Apple’s event.

The question is, what’s the big deal with a touch screen computer? Aren’t traditional laptops good enough. What about netbooks, aren’t they small and portable enough for the size conscious consumer?

The answer here is not about practicality or portability. But it rests with the assumption that consumers want their technology to evolve with their expectation. We want star trek tech today! Ease of use with our fingers, gesture controls that not only look cool but are practically cool. We are tired of the physical keyboard, the mouse was a great input tool, but its old. We want to feel in control, like we created the technology when showing off to friends.

So how does Microsoft have it right with Courier and Apple by all rumored indication  is moving on a more traditional path with the iSlate.


The courier, doesn’t look like a laptop or netbook, heck it looks like a book. Which is its best design feature. Why pretend to be something, when you can actually be it. The fact that its design context breathes familiarity, show a direct reaction to today’s consumers need. The courier reminds me of something I need and something that can blend or fit into a user personality. The fact that it looks like a books, also attracts consumers who fear technology or see computers as being complex and foreign.

Technical functionality

From the concept videos, posted by Gizmodo. We can see that the courier is sticking close to its design roots of being a book. The use of pages as a way to save documents and information. Reminds me of the Nintendo Wii’s home screen, which uses channels as a way to save files and other information. This makes each page in the case of the courier unique and its self-containing will being part of the whole concept.

Dual touchscreen

No its not a 7″ Nintendo DS, though the gaming possibilities are numerous. The dual screens actually allow for a greater degree of multitasking. where an individual can surf the web on the left screen to get information to use on a project on the right. Playing a video on one screen while editing it on the fly on the other. Like with the DS, the limitations are only restricted by a developer/users imagination.


Granted we know nothing of what the iSlate’s interface will be like, I am betting it will follow previous Apple conventions and evolve from that. Which isn’t a bad thing, just not as fresh and new as e would like. The courier on the other hand has a user interface that looks fresh and practical at the same time. with a simple scrap book mentality Microsoft looks to make the Courier experience a unique one. Just as it did with the Zune HD

Pricing & Service

At the end of the day, this is what may determine if Microsoft’s design philosophy with the courier is the right one. We don’t have to guess how much the iSlate will cost. Apple is pretty consistent with their pricing. Microsoft has to price the device right, to cot less than the iSlate and be perceived to be of more value. I believe a range between $400-$600 will be the most effective in capturing consumers to buy into the Courier.  As the product comes off as being cost efficient yet not cheap.

Rumors have begun to swirl of Apple tying the iSlate with a subscription service that akin to iTunes but for TV shows. A very nice idea and way of providing constant functionality for a device that maybe more traditional that practical.  The questions here is does the Courier need some sort of service or have Netflix built in with HULU or HULU type service. Or will the Couriers innovative design be good enough to show case the product.

If Microsoft does go ahead and announce the courier in the form and fashion we have seen from leaked document, the the industry should be ready for an interesting change. Let us know what you think

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