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Microsoft Courier to be iPad Killer?

Updated on August 10, 2010

The never-ending battle between Microsoft and Apple continues. This time let’s hope the people at Microsoft do a little better than when they launched Zune to compete with the iPod.

iPad sales created quite a stir around May 2010. Two million units were sold within only 60 days. When Steve Jobs gloated about the numbers during his keynote, competitors were reminded that they would either have to bust into action now or be left in the dust.

There is no shortage of ebook readers and tablets out there. Products like the Amazon Kindle, HP Slate, JooJoo, Nook and Kobo are all fighting to grab a piece of the market. Since Microsoft is late to the party they had better have something original in order to break through the clutter.

Think Small

Microsoft is going small with the Courier. Its design is based on those old fashioned journals teenagers stashed under their beds in days of lore. Opened up, it looks just like a book spread. You have two pages in front of your eyes, just like the old days. Closed it is 5 x 7” and just under an inch thick, weighing in at about a pound. If that is smaller than you were expecting, keep in mind that Microsoft is going for mobility to differentiate itself with the iPad which seems an ideal companion for lounging around the house.

Instead of embracing the touch of fingers, Microsoft is going the stylus route ala Palm Pilot. Built-in technologies allow it to convert handwriting into digital text, creating blog-like organization for written entries. A big advantage is this will allow people to draw; something impossible with fingertips unless you want to create kindergarten-styled paintings.

As expected with pretty well any portable device these days, there will be a built-in camera and headphone jack for audio capability. The software will be the same OS as found on the Zune HD: probably Windows CE 6.

The iPad Killer?

As innovative as it appears stacked up against other tablets, the device is very close in concept to the Nintendo DS: same fold-up screen approach and pen input. At least we know there are bound to be some good game apps around the corner.

The Courier aims to do things a little differently than the rest of the pack. For use as a written journaling device and digital sketch pad, the design is perfect. Some have complained about not getting any real work done with their iPad and perhaps this is just the ticket to stay productive on the move. That’s a great idea in theory, however for the time being people seem to love noodling with portable devices a little too much for this approach to catch on.

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