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Did iPad kill the Courier tablet?

Microsoft's Courier project was an exciting and fascinating concept. When it first appeared last year, the folding two-screen tablet was one of the most incredible things we've seen out of Redmond for a long time. Similar in concept to Apple's Knowledge Navigator concept device, Courier used a combination of touch and pen-based computing to generate a lot of buzz and interest about what was going on in Microsoft's labs.

Gizmodo is reporting that the project was killed yesterday. There's speculation that the intense popularity of Apple's relatively low-cost iPad, coupled with the imminent arrival of Android-based tablets and possibly even WebOS slates from HP, could have scared the software giant away from releasing the device.

Nobody outside of Microsoft knows for sure how far along Courier really was -- the video that was widely distributed last fall was obviously a marketing dream -- or how much the proposed device would have cost. With two iPad-sized touchscreens and a strong, yet lightweight hinge mechanism holding the Courier screens together, it wouldn't have been as inexpensive as the iPad.

Although those of us at TUAW are Apple fanboys to the max, we regret that the Courier never made it to market. Competition is good, and when a possible contender fails to make it out of the conceptual stage, it's a loss for all of us.

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