Posted by: Taylor Hoff | October 1, 2009

The Future Of The Laptop

Just when I thought my tablet PC was cool, Microsoft had to go and one-up it. The lack of a keyboard will probably be a deal killer, but my GOD is this ahead of it’s time!
-TDH

Video: http://vimeo.com/6820724

Since publishing the first leak, several more people have come forward with details on the Courier project.

This video is produced by the same firm that collaborated with Microsoft’s Pioneer Studios on the previous clip, and it walks through a slightly different (and more conservative/realistic) iteration of the Courier interface. While the first video showed a handful of use cases, this one actually provides an overview of the interface and Courier’s features, and more of how you would actually use it if you are not a designer.

The heart of Courier appears to what’s called the “infinite journal,” which is what it sounds like: A journal/scrapbook that is endless, bound only by storage constraints (presumably). Hopefully they will call it something less awkward. The journal can actually be published online, and it’s shown here as able to be downloaded in three formats: a Courier file, Powerpoint or PDF. There’s also a library that looks a lot like Delicious Library, where things like subscriptions, notebooks and apps, are stored.

This interface does share a few things in common with the other one: In particular, the hinge between the screens is still used as a pocket to “tuck” items you want to move from one page to another. It also still revolves almost exclusively around using the pen for input: In 4 minutes of video, there’s not a virtual keyboard in sight. Fingers are still used just to navigate, through flicks, swipes and pinches.

The interface has a few more traditional elements than the first video, with more of a Microsoft feel (fonts and titles bars) and less of the entirely handwritten journal aesthetic: a smart agenda, more defined folder system, universal search and multi-page web browsing. It feels more evolved and fined, and less convoluted, suggesting it’s more recent.

It also begins to bring into focus Courier’s priorities, and possible limitations: Other than the brief glimpse at the library and the web browser, there is basically nothing about viewing content, like watching movies, reading books, or listening to music. Courier, in this iteration, appears to be all about creating and writing with a pen, which is vastly different from what everybody expects out of the Apple tablet.

We expect to have more a in-depth breakdown of the Courier interface in the next few days, so stay tuned.

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