J. Allard’s goobye letter to the Tribe

Here’s Microsoft’s J.Allard goodbye letter / mail that he sent out internally a few hours ago. I think that should all take the time to read it because it’s just really good. Thanks to Mary Jo Foley who managed to get her hands on it:

From: J Allard
Date: May 25, 2010 8:56:08 AM PDT
To: “Robert (Robbie) Bach”, Entertainment & Devices Division FTE
Cc: Senior Leadership Team
Subject: Decide. Change. Reinvent.


If you’ve been following along, you probably understand just how difficult it was for me to decide to leave the tribe and explore new territory, but the time has come.

My passion for our cause combined with my obsessive nature has put many of my other interests on hold for a long time. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow looks like – but if my focus has been 95% MSFT, 5% life until now, I know that the first step is to flip that ratio around. After wrapping some projects up, I will shift to 95% life and 5% MSFT. With that 5% I’ll be working for SteveB on a couple of projects beginning this fall…..

In response to the curiosity, no chairs were thrown, no ultimatums served, I am not moving to Cupertino or Mountain View, I did not take a courier job and I require no assistance finding the door. I do know that I’m going to help a couple of friends get their startups going (e.g. The Clymb), I’m planning some races (by foot, bike and off-road trucks), and I’m going to put some energy into my passion for design, the arts and philanthropy. For those of you reporting into one of my organizations, I am committed to working through all of the transition issues and assure you that The Tribe remains committed to the work you are doing and our purpose going forward.

If, at the next juncture, I decide to join a corporate tribe again, this place will definitely top my list. There are a lot of great companies out there doing terrific and meaningful work with better pizza, nicer décor and great implementations of “ls” on the desktops, but The Tribe? No one can touch our talent, our impact or our ambition. We’re the only high-tech company with the track record and self-confidence to reinvent ourselves as we have. If you want to change the world with technology, this is still the best tribe out there.

Please, put my headcount and that cardkey “invitation” to good use. Find a college student that claims we don’t get it and blogs tirelessly about our lack of agility. Track down an EE that has been focusing on fuel cells and has radical thoughts about power management. Or a social networking whiz who is tired of building little islands that go hot and cold and can’t break the mainstream. Hire a designer who’s given shape to 2 decades of beautiful automobiles and thinks we can sculpt technology to better connect to users. Infuse them with our purpose. Give them the tools. Give them lots of rope. Learn from them. Support where they take you. Invite them to redefine The Tribe.

Decide. Change. Reinvent.

source: All About Microsoft

HP kills off the HP Slate?

File this in the rumor category and grab some salt..According to sources close to the matter, HP is about to cancel the much hyped Windows 7 Slate Tablet PC. Now this might seem a little far fetched given that the project is probably in its final stage before commercialization but after all that’s happen since yesterday (HTC paying MS for using Android, HP buying Palm, Microsoft canceling the Courier..) everything seems possible. If (big IF) this turns out to be true then my feeling that the decision to cancel the Courier Project yesterday is connected and motivated by HP’s acquisition of Palm is re-inforced. Let’s all wait and see for now…

Source: Techcrunch

Microsoft cancels the Courier tablet

It’s official folks; Microsoft has officially announced that the Courier project is now halted. Here’s what Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw had to say:

“At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It’s in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.”

According to Gizmodo the decision was taken Wednesday (yesterday) the same day HP announced its plan to buy Palm. Are both events connected or did something else triger Microsoft’s decision to cancel the project ? The only good thing that come out of this is the hope that Microsoft is going to concentrate harder on its core porjects (Windows & Windows Phone 7).

Source: Gizmodo

Are Toshiba & Compal building the Microsoft Courier?

According to Digitimes Compal was contracted by Toshiba to manufacture an nVidia Tegra2 Windows CE 7 based dual-screen Tablet expected to ship in 2011.What is interesting is that these specs line up with the latest rumors about Microsoft’s Courier project (NYTimes claims that a source told them that it’s scheduled for 2011). It is also worth noting that Toshiba has always been close to Microsoft in the past (they build the Orignial Zune players). There’s one thing that doesn’t ad up if we assume that it is indeed the Courier: Why would Microsoft need Toshiba? They could directly contract Compal to build the device.

Source: Digitimes

Microsoft Research demos Simultaneous Pen & Touch input

Microsoft Research has just uploaded a video of a prototype digital drafting table that supports both pen and touch input named Manual Deskterity. This prototype is aimed at exploring the what they call a division of labor between pen and touch inherent from natural human skills:

We advocate a division of labor between pen and touch: the pen writes, touch manipulates, and the combination of pen+touch yields new tools. This articulates how our system interprets unimodal pen, unimodal touch, and multimodal pen + touch inputs, respectively. We contribute novel pen + touch gestures that leverage the strengths of both pen and touch; utilizing both modalities to complement one another also enables us to largely sidestep the weaknesses inherent in each modality as well.

I Guess that Steve Jobs would say that Microsoft “Blew it” once again right? Interestigly this project is in some wyas similar to what we have seen the Courier renderings and videos. Oh and those working on it are the same who worked onproject Codex (ealry Courier protoype?).

Source: YouTube via IStartedsomething

First Microsoft Courier live pictures and details!

The Engadget boys just posted the first live pictures of Microsoft’s Courier Tablet and some details about the devices specifications and release date. From what they’ve heard the Courier will feature an nVidia Tegra 2 chipset coupled with an OS based on Windows CE 6 (like Windows Phone 7 Series,Pink & Zune HD…). The product also seems to feature dual capacitive screens (“not much bigger than a 5×7 photo when closed”) that can be used with your fingers or the digital Pen pictured above. Microsoft is also apparently builing an eBook ecosystem around it. Release date is rumored to be Q3/Q4 2010, but this is probably a little bit early. If this turns out to be true and Windows CE is at the base of the Courier OS I expect Microsoft to unify the developement tools with the Zune HD & Windows Phone 7 Series.

Source: Engadget

Microsoft Courier UI slides leaked

Gizmodo has posted one more Microsoft Courier leak today. This time it’s the presentation slides describing how the Courier’s UI works. The document shows the different gestures used to interact with the devices. I’m willing to bet that Microsoft isn’t happy about all these leaks..See the previous leaks here & here.

Source: Gizmodo

Steve Ballmer talks about Zune, Windows Mobile, Courier & Pink

Steve Ballmer Engadget
Engadget had a chance to sit down with Microsoft‘s CEO, Steve Ballmer and ask him a couple of interesting questions today during the Engadget Show. Regarding Zune integration into Windows Mobile, Steve confirmed that it will be part of the next version of the mobile OS. What’s not known is exactly which version he was referring too, WM6.5.1 or WM7? When asked about the Courier tablet prototype the CEO tried to dodge the question but finally hinted the a similar device may come out of Redmond (you’ll have to check the whole sequence in video to see what I’m talking about). Finally, Steve confirmed that their won’t be any Microsoft phone and that Procject Pink may be be a service associated with highend/premium phones (build by OEMs with input from Microsoft based on hardware chassis).

Source: Engadget

Steve Ballmer talks about Microsoft’s mobile strategy, Zune software coming to Windows Mobile

Cnet’s Molly Wood & Ina Fried got a chance to sit down Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer at the Redmond Campus to talk a bit about Microsoft‘s current and future strategy. Topics discussed are today’s economic situation, the Windows 7 launch, apple advertising etc.. When asked about the Microsoft Courier tablet protoype, Steve gave no comment and just said:

“Oh, there’s definitely a market for computers that you can mark on,” [...]
“So, I don’t see that market going away, and certainly Apple — I’m sure Apple will bring a unique point of view. They tend to bring unique points of view to things. And yet we’ve got great people doing great stuff, and let’s see what the competition has.”

When asked about the Zune HD and why there’s no third-party appstore, Steve replied by saying that he sees the Zune HD as a PMP and that the Zune:

“What is Zune HD? Zune HD is a couple things. Number one, Zune HD is a music player, a nice music service. By the way, the same software will be available on Windows Phones and Windows PCs. You have that today on the PC, you’ll see that in our phone environment as well.”

I heard that it should be announced during PDC 09 (for WM6.5 phones). Steve also said that The Zune HD hardware is to show Windows Mobile ODMs/OEMs what they can/should do with Windows Phones and that Microsoft is not planning to build a phone anytime soon.

” Ballmer said. “At the end of the day, I think the model of a software company partnering with a lot of handset vendors is powerful. It’s powerful relative to what you see from folks like Palm and Blackberry and Apple.”

Source: Cnet

The Microsoft Courier Puzzle

I always loved puzzle games and this time I think we’ve got a pretty intersting one at hand: The Microsoft Courier Tablet/booklet project.

Remember a few days ago when the news broke out at Gizmodo I mentioned that the Courier project looked like it was based on Inkseine and the Codex prototype from Microsoft Research. I did some more digging (thanks Lituus) and found some intereting things.
We’ve already seen that the Courier UI in the first video looks like a highly polished version of Inkseine (shown here on the Codex protype):

[flv:http://blip.tv/file/get/IMav-MicrosoftTabletPrototype258.flv 480 360]

But the second video demonstrates some sort of scrapbook features which are really close to several Microsoft Office Labs & Live Labs projects:

Microsoft Canvas for OneNote:

Canvas for OneNote allows you to navigate and edit notebooks in a new way by providing a high-level canvas-view of all your content. The prototype lets you zoom and pan around; view and organize content in new ways; add new pages right where you want them; and even locate pages in a timeline view.

Microsoft ThumbTack

Thumbtack is a personal repository for information gathered from across the web. It can be used to collect text, photos and links from any web page using familiar mechanisms such as copy and paste. It’s implemented as an Ajax application and runs entirely within a browser. All user data is stored in a web service and is accessible from any computer via a browser.

Microsoft StickySorter

Ever found yourself lost in the eye of a brainstorm? Lots of great information, but it’s all over the place! Sticky Sorter is a Grassroots Project, developed by two Microsoft Employees, that you can use today to manage such challenges. The inventors, Julie and Sumit, were looking for an easier way to capture, sift through, and organize hundreds of research observations traditionally done on physical sticky notes in an affinity diagramming exercise with researchers from around the world. The result is StickySorter which met their complex needs, supports virtual collaboration, and is now available for you to use in managing your next brainstorm.

It looks like Microsoft took those projects (Codex, Inkseine, Canvas for Onenote, Thumbtack & Stickysorter) mixed them all together to finally come out with the Courier project. Take all these bits & pieces,put them together and you got what we have seen of Courier.

More Microsoft Courier details and speculations

Gizmodo just posted some new info they’ve got about Microsoft’s booklet/tablet prototype the Courier. They’ve posted a second video showing the Courier being used as a journal/scrapbook.

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.

The video demonstrates the abilitiy ot cut/copy/pastefrom any part of a webpage in the browser and drag it to the second screen/page which acts are your scrapbook. This functionalilty is already availalbe in InkSeine but in a less polished way. Another nice feature is the ability to share your presentations/scrapbooks with anyboy via the internet.

It feels more evolved and fined, and less convoluted, suggesting it’s more recent.

Uh? The first video was basically a polished demo of InkSeine (which has been available for more than a year) while the second video is all about using the tablet as a scrapbook. I don’t see how this means that the Courier is only a scrapbook tablet now. So If I make a 2mins video demoing Excel on a PC it would instantly mean that a PC is only used to create spreadsheets? Nice logic boys.

According someone who tipped Mary Jo Foley, the courier prototype is supposedly running Windows 7. I would bet on some form of Windows CE 7/WM7 though. Her tipster is also saying that Microsoft is going to biuld the device and attempting to launch it in Mid-2010. Wait & see..

Source: Gizmodo & MJF

Microsoft’s Courier Tablet details!

courier8 (Small)

What the…Gizmodo just posted a whole bunch of info (and video) of Microsoft’s internal Tablet prototype named Courier. It’s said to have dual folding 7inch capacitive touch-screens that can be operated by fingers or stylus for handwriting recognition and a 3mpx camera with flah on the back. It still remains to be seen if this device is ever going to hit retail but it looks mighty impressive so far. It looks like part of the UI uses Microsoft’s Research Inkseine. I wonder which OS is this device going to run. Is it a version of Windows CE 7? Windows Mobile 7? J. Allard Chief Experience Officer is working on it. The PMX division is also working on Pink and WM7

Here’s a little memory refresher: Microsoft Codex dual screen prototype Looks similar ? Yes, it even uses InkSeine as the main UI.

[flv:http://blip.tv/file/get/IMav-MicrosoftTabletPrototype258.flv 480 360]


500x_courier1_01 Source: Gizmodo