back to article iPad's biggest rival? Microsoft's dead Courier

Apple's iPad has been criticized as a super-sized version of the iPhone. While that criticism is mostly correct, it falls short in one key area: it's a heck of a lot easier to input information into an iPhone than into an iPad. The reason? The iPad's virtual keyboard doesn't fit any familiar mode of content creation. The …


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  1. Andy Christ

    Don't drink and drivel

    Methinks the author over-celebrated the New Year with some bad hootch. It is a cinch to thumb type on the iPad in Portrait mode, and Landscape mode is a a breeze for full fingered input. On a more charitable note, perhaps Mr. Asay simply has miniscule hands.

    And the Courier never existed, it was all a figment, everyone knows that.

  2. Robert 3

    I use the iPad

    All day long and type fast on it, no problem. Not sure what you're talking about.

  3. Mikel
    Thumb Up

    Hi guys.

    I figured there would be some strong disagreement in this article, so I made y'all a graph of how Microsoft is doing against Apple financially these last eight years on Google Finance. Here it is:

    That looks great. A few more years of Steve Ballmer's fine leadership ought to take Microsoft to where I want them to be.

    Courier was less than a prototype. It was vaporware of the worst kind. It wasn't even a mockup. Its only purpose was to give Windows Fever types hope that there was some salvation coming, so they wouldn't be forced to adopt iPad in the enterprise. Same with the HP Slate, which delivered mere thousands of units to sad Windows faithful the world over, and disappointed them all.

    We'll have the same at CES, and whatever comes after in February (World mobile congress or something). Hugely expensive advertising campaigns and a fawning press that works for press companies paid by such, dishing the advantages of going back to 2005 as if it were a good thing. Hot chicks, open bar. They'll tell you how much fun it is to dance with the devil, but they won't tell you that if you dance with the devil you WILL pay his fee.

    Courier as a strategy failed horribly. iPad wasn't just the number one Christmas gift for 2010. It's also the preferred thin client for Citrix amongst people who close deals at a nice table. That fight is over and iPad won. It turns out people will buy good stuff. We'll go again in March, but to quote the magic 8-ball, "outlook not so good".

  4. John Atkins

    Keypad for iPad

    I just got the "ZAGGmate with keyboard" from .

    It works well as a keypad and as a hard case. It isn't a separate item when carrying it about.

    Not quite as spiffy as an integral keyboard, but good when entering text. It will act as a laptop in a reasonably stable manner on a lap, but very well on a table/desk.




  5. Anonymous Coward

    Great demoware and that's it

    Like most pie-in-the-sky demos made by art majors, Courier can't exist in reality because there is no rhyme or reason to the software. One gesture does ABC in one situation and the same thing does XYZ in a different situation, random UI widgets appear out of thin air when convenient, etc. Whatever is necessary to move the demo forward.

    I'm amazed that so many otherwise rational thinking, technically inclined people have been suckered into thinking this nonsense is cool or even just interesting.

    Also, re: text input, "typing" on the iPad completely sucks but I'm not prepared to say that handwriting would be any better. I grew up taking notes by hand and the fastest I could ever write is ~30 WPM and it hurt my hand after a while. Even with the iPad's sucky virtual keyboard I can type faster than that and not have my hands cramp up. It would be nice if Apple offered an option to shrink the keyboard so typing with one finger wouldn't look and feel so ridiculous though.

  6. StooMonster

    There's an App for that

    Maybe Microsoft could produce a Courier App for iOS and Andriod instead?

  7. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    That's about it, really. On my android phone swype is a revelation - astonishingly easy and fast to use. It would be a must-have if I was buying a tablet.

  8. Pat Cadigan

    Some of Us Silver Surfers Don't "Thumb"

    --because we still remember what it was like learning to touch-type. Believe it or not, I don't have much trouble with the iPad's onscreen keyboard in landscape mode. It takes some getting used to but I manage--I'm typing this on it. I used it for a couple of months before buying a wireless keyboard for when I have more extensive writing to do. I thought the iPad was an overpriced toy, till someone gave me one. I'm a freelance writer and the iPad is the lightweight portable I've been waiting for all my life. I have a friend who is recovering from a stroke--the iPad is the only computer he can use one-handed with any degree of ease. I've been a pc-user since 1986 (yes, Virginia, there were computers back then, along with electricity and indoor flush-toilets) but the iPad has made an Apple convert out of me. I'm not that interested in the iPhone--make phone calls on an iPod? Thanks, but I'd rather have a stripped-down phone no one wants to steal. in the meantime, I'm saving up to buy iPads for the rest of my family, including my 90-year-old mother. A touch-screen and stylus is a good idea for someone with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The accessibility setting allows her to use her small amount of eyesight. I probably should have bought her an iPad instead of a Kindle.

  9. Ian Davies

    Wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start

    iPad is not for content creation? Really? That's what passes for tech "analysis" around here?

    Courier? Of course it looked interesting, it never actually had to do anything except look cool for a few minutes in a heavily scripted demo. None of what they showed was capable of scaling up to a general interface that could be applied to multiple applications.

  10. bojennett
    Thumb Down

    Two problems...

    One - Microsoft isn't "known" for content creation, per se. Yes, they have content creation "owned" for Office, but not for any media content creation, and certainly not for Internet content creation. 1 out of 3 does not make you an "expert" on content creation.

    Two - the Courier was never even a project. If I had the money, I could have hired a media company to create that video. That doesn't mean I was running the project - just that I hired somebody to make a video for the device.

    Neither MS, nor anybody else for that matter, knows how to make something like the Courier. It is an expensive, time consuming endeavor, and nothing MS has in its technology stable would have been able to have been used to make such a thing.

    You might as well have asked Paramount Studios to "just execute" on the delivery of holo-decks, because they "demoed" them on Star Trek, The Next Generation.

  11. Paul Shirley

    Apple&Microsoft dont want this market

    Frankly I don't understand why either Apple or Microsoft would care about ease of content creation. The iPad is focused on serving up content to users, be it apps or media, with Apple milking profit continuously. It evidently works as a business plan.

    Diluting that flow of paid content with useful creation apps or decent input methods doesn't make sense. Even Microsoft aren't yet desperate enough to rely on just app sales, in a market used to paying pennies and with rampant competition keeping prices down.

    Google and RIM have a different model and the phones with decent hard keyboards, trackpads/balls and goodies like good cut&paste are Android or Blackberry's.

  12. Kevin Bailey

    Don't forget the MS mode of operation...

    Produce rubbish now - promise better later.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      MS mode of operation

      The sad thing is it never ceases to work.

      1. chr0m4t1c


        Yeah, it always works.

        Vista and KIN were runaway successes.

  13. Mikel

    Changewave survey

    Executive summary: this one is over. The iPad won.

  14. revdjenk

    This is not the Courier you are after...

    1. Pet Peeve


      Job's first law of tablets - if you can se the stylus, you've already failed.

      I don't know if the 'kno' is actually a product or simply yet another in a series of "I'm making a tablet too" concept adds, but looking at the picture on the front page, I'd agree with Mr. Jobs on this - that interface is stupidly small for a tablet. Navigation should ALWAYS be something you can do with a finger, with use of something like a pen limited to very special situations, such as high precision drawing.

  15. David Simpson 1


    Isn't it obvious ? They cancel Courier as a hardware/software device then less than a year later they are hinting at showing off a new version of windows for ARM and touchscreens that might be Windows 8 might not. Courier has been melted down and is presently getting mixed into Windows 8.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Me I just like paying out on Microsoft.

    Why? Because they deserve it.

  17. MS Rocks

    yeah, right........

    This article is written by someone who headed Ubuntu. When it comes to MASSIVE fails, surely Ubuntu must take the biscuit? They have been unsuccessful competing against MS Windows, even though their product costs nothing. I mean, they have, quite literally, proven that they cannot successfully give their products away for free. Way to go Matt. I am sure that your track record gives you a lot of credibility with the powers that run MS………

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Having played and compared my Windows Phone 7 device to a Samsung S device last weekend, I tend to disagree with the later paragraphs of the article. Android sucks big time. I couldn't even type in a message at a reasonable speed. It was a very frustrating and confusing experience.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Not like the force

    The bias is strong in this one.

    Seriously such a nonsensical waste of words and MY TIME.


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