Computers are Finally Getting Fun

It’s taken, what, about 25 years of the personal computer to finally break out of the screen + keyboard + mouse paradigm. There have been plenty of small wins and big failures along the way, but lately it feels like we’re on to something. Maybe just as the last decade saw laptops and netbooks overtake desktop computers, the next decade will see assorted other devices replace the laptop.

The latest candidate is the Microsoft Courier, a tablet computer with a bookish form factor. Here’s some video from Engadget:

I really like the way that demo video plays. The narrator is very natural, and I like that it’s focused on a case study as opposed to the “rejoice, for this thing is awesome” tone so common to Apple’s videos.

I’m not sure I want one, but I’m excited by these mainstream players like Apple and Microsoft thinking creatively about interface design and how we should interact with computers.


  1. I agree that it’s about time that different ideas about computing devices started making their way in the real world. And Courier a neat demo, but I’m with John Gruber on this one: “this is not a demo of a device, or even of actual software. It’s a demo of a concept. I’d wager money that we’ll never see an actual product from Microsoft that works like this.”

    I’m not sure I’d go with “never,” but recall that Microsoft had a multitouch device demoed long before the iPhone. It was the Surface table interface. I finally saw one in person last summer, but it’s still basically a proof of concept, and I wonder how many they’ve sold. Twenty? A hundred?

    Apple may be high on itself, but it seems pretty rare that any other company actually pushes new computing ideas into the market.

  2. Microsoft has a history of doing a lot of good research and experimentation, and then managing to kill off all the innovation as the ideas wind their way to market. It’s too bad, because it would make the market that much more interesting.

  3. I like creative concepts. But I’m getting a little weary of all Microsofts great ideas and “demos”. The last line of the video made me roll my eyes: “It’s all about bringing great ideas to life”. When? Still waiting for a few of their great ideas to come to fruition. I’m beginning to think these are less about R&D and more about marketing. “Hey look, we’re innovative too”.

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