Rumours circulating the web suggest that Microsoft's Courier device could be hitting the shops as early as next year - despite a lack of firm commitment from the company.
Microsoft's Courier dual-screen concept tablet has been tempting the tech world for quite some time, but the company has been strangely reticent about producing an actual product - or even a physical prototype for people to lust after. While modders and hackers have been inspired by the rendered images available on the 'net to produce their own
Courier-style devices, all indications were that Microsoft had shelved the concept.
The initial enthusiasm for Apple's slate form factor iPad may have changed Microsoft's mind, however: the New York Times
has quoted an unnamed Microsoft employee as stating that a physical prototype of the Courier exists and is "about as big as an ordinary paperback and folds out to reveal two screens.
The description given by the employee certainly matches the pre-rendered concept video and images leaked to Gizmodo
late last year, but is a little light on details to be taken completely at face value.
Concerns have been raised that the drain of running two screens will have a deleterious impact on the device's battery life, and Microsoft is allegedly struggling to decide exactly how to market a large, clamshell-style dual-screen device in a market that is split quite clearly between traditional netbooks and notebooks - with physical keyboards - and slate-style tablets - with a single touch-sensitive display. Despite this, the New York Times states confidently that "Microsoft engineers have talked about getting the Courier out by early 2011.
Do you believe that Microsoft is on the right track with the Courier, or is a dual-screen device a bad idea in a market that appears to be accepting slate-factor devices with open arms? Share your thoughts over in the forums