January 10, 2010

Microsoft Courier concept

From Gizmodo at:

Microsoft are showing their Courier concept. I'm not sure Microsoft have been too successful with these concepts, with the UMPC, and others falling by the wayside over the years. Another view would be that they have been way ahead of the game and foresaw/inspired the NetBook and other trends. Eitherway, not it's this "Media computer" as I call it.

Viewing the videos I link to above, they seem to be proposing Personal productivity type applications, but using more of a printed media viewing experience.

Now that I think about it, this reminds me of work at Microsoft Research that I saw over a year ago, with two small UMPCs stuck together. Doing a search I found a number of relevant pieces published from the MS Research work:

I've long been an advocate of the open-close book concept. Note that I don't say "dual screen". That is because my idea scenario is a single flexible display that is "dual" A5 portrait screens in the format shown above, but if opened fully it can also be a single A4/A sized screen when rotated 90 degrees. That's a challenge for flexible displays and electronics that will have me waiting a while, meanwhile I like these designs.

The active stylus/tablet combination is in my opinion a good one. Whether done by a Waacom-style (smarts in tablet), or a "smarts in the pen" method. Separate stylus and (finger) touch input and allow more advanced pen usage and combined use. just like you do with real paper!

My personal experience of using the buttons on a stylus has been very poor. It's not easy to hold the stylus in a comfortable way for writing and to be able to then press a button without changing grip and moving the stylus....I'd keep pursuing the goal of imitating a pen/pencil. e.g. switch it around to erase works well.
For pen color, width, type selection I'd have some two-handed twist selections or controls on the pen as they won't be done mid-stroke and need to have fine control and be seen clearly by the user.

Will MS have the moxy to release a "computer like device" that doesn't have Windows as the UI?
Recent Zune developments (and thinking about it, the Surface also) seem to suggest they maybe open to that idea, but I'll still be surprised if we see a device with a UI like this from MS in the near term.

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