updated 02:10 pm EDT, Tue September 29, 2009
Courier touch notebook
Microsoft's Courier dual-screen tablet uses a full desktop OS underneath, a leak from the project maintains. Just as the company's Surface multi-touch tables use Vista underneath, the new project is seen by Mary Jo Foley as using Microsoft's latest OS and having access to its deeper features. It isn't believed to be just a cosmetic change, however, and would intentionally break compatibility with regular Windows 7 apps; Courier-native third-party apps are a possibility.
Additional details found by Gizmodo suggest that the journal functionality shown in the original video may be the primary focus of the device. It would let users create "infinite" journals up to the capacity of the Courier and then post the resulting projects online, either in a native format other Couriers could recognize or else in PDF or PowerPoint.
Although its focus would be on content creation where the rumored Apple tablet will supposedly focus on consumption, Foley understands that the Courier may well be an attempt to address the failures of Windows tablet PCs by using lessons learned from the iPhone. While Microsoft has often championed tablets and attempted to push them into the mainstream through convertible PCs, the company now believes these have failed as they weren't designed from the start for a stylus or for touch in the way Apple has managed.
Previous rumors have suggested that multiple prototypes have been developed that each function differently, but Courier is now considered more than just a purely theoretical project and is in "incubation," where it's more likely (but not certain) to emerge as a real product. The company may also repeat the strategy it has used for the Xbox and Zune and make the device under its own name rather than license it out, which would let Microsoft ship a Courier in or near mid-2010 instead of waiting for an outside company to make the device itself.