• Microsoft Tablet To Have Pen Interface

    image via Gizmodo

    Billing it as "kung fu eagle claw to Apple's tiger style," Gizmodo has highlighted a breathless review of the Microsoft Courier tablet. The device is said to be a "late prototype," and is in a "booklet" form factor with two seven-inch touchscreens connected by a hinge. But the main way in which the demo shown in Gizmodo's piece differs from most visualizations of the Apple tablet is the inclusion of an almost anachronistic interface devide: a pen.

    The pen, or stylus, brings up memories of the Newton, which almost no one (including myself up until about ten seconds ago) remembers as Apple's failed PDA. It appears from the demo that the pen is an optional or secondary input method: although no keyboard is shown, gestures are also used to control the device and manipulate various pieces of media.

    The demo is very graphically appealing, but there's no real indication of exactly how to use the device. There's an "Apps" screen that appears to come up with a pinch, and something like a Home button in the device's hinge. It'll be interesting as more details leak out how much Microsoft is cribbing from Apple interface design (long time no see, Windows 3.1!) and how much they're going in a new direction (Microsoft Bob?)

    Seriously, Redmond-bashing is easy, but the general-purpose tablet is unknown territory. Apple has certain advantages in both interface design and general brand coolness, but it's worth remembering that they had that in 1984, before being utterly crushed by ugly, uncool, hard-to-use Windows boxes.

    This is about to get interesting.
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