In a previous article we discussed about Microsoft’s latest efforts to become relevant again in the world (not that they ever stopped to be, mind you, but it is not a good idea to rely only on Windows 7 and Office business, even when you are owning 90+ percent of the market). And you know what your investment agent tells you…diversify, diversify and diversify again your portfolio. So let’s continue to look how Microsoft tries to diversify itself and also be successful about it.
In this second part, we’ll discuss about a not released yet product (and not even officially announced), Microsoft Courier, about Bing search engine and the newly “silverlighted” Bing Maps.
1. Microsoft Courier
As usual, we’ll start with the fun part, and the fun part is a gadget, of course. Judging from the various usability movies that surfaced on the web, Microsoft wants to position Courier as a digital journal, eBook reader, Internet Browser and, even if they don’t specifically show it, I am sure it will have media player capabilities as well. After all, it is rumored to include a NVIDIA Tegra 2 at its core, and that is nothing to joke about.
So Microsoft Courier seems to be a dual screen tablet with a folding design – a smart idea to increase portability while conserving space, very light (a little bit over a pound is what Engadget says) and thinner than an average paperback book. The interface seems to support pen writing and touch as well which would be perfect since both input methods have their own pros and cons. I happen to love tablets for e-Book reading and light internet surfing while in bed, so something like Courier would fit my habit perfectly.
Now, if the iPhone’s recent very successful history has taught us something is that, the vast majority of people prefer their life simple. That means a close, proprietary device with its own application library and closed eco-system. So, following recently announced Windows Phone 7 announcement, I would expect Microsoft will have an eBook store ready by the time Courier launches, with various agreements in place to feed content from newspapers as well. So from this point of view, it will be an iPad contender. Where it will different form a iPad in my opinion is the user interface. While iPad is pretty much an over sized iPhone, Microsoft seems to have become more task oriented in their approach, so the UI will focus more on a set of activities and improve upon them, rather than just let the application developers do it at the application level. From the movies surfaced, you will have the ability to drag, organize and share content, together with the ability of using the pen input to add drawing, notes or anything else you might like. The rumors say that the device will also have an embedded camera and I’m very sure audio out as well what modern device doesn’t?).