The rumor mills are rolling with Microsoft’s foray into the Tablet PC race ever since Apple’s been said to be doing one. Bill Gates has been one of the strongest advocates of Tablet computing and it doesn’t surprise me that there were initial research prototypes of Tablet PCs. Gizmodo has done a scoop that shows Microsoft’s Tablet PC concept known as ‘Courier’.

The internal research project and the device was/is known as ‘Codex’ and not ‘Courier’. Here are some juicy details like hardware specs & images of the prototype:

First up the images:

Now for some tech specs:

So here’s what to expect:

Size: ~ 4”x6”

Dual screen

The orientation or the way in which this Tablet will be used is pretty much like a notebook and hence there are postures in which the device can be held or used. Here are some of the ‘postures’ that have been considered:

The  folding  form-factor of  the Codex enables allows each  screen  to  be  viewed  by  a  separate  user. The Battleship,  Face-to-Face,  and  Corner-to-Corner  postures are  the  three primary  collaborative postures of  the Codex.

Automatic Posture Sensing & Manual Posture

The Codex software:

The Codex  software  is  based  on  the  InkSeine  note-taking application,  which  provides  a  core  set  of  inking, searching,  and  information  gathering  functionality  that  is critical to the Codex as a pen-operated tool for sensemaking tasks.

The  Codex  software  adds support  for  sensing  postures,  network  synchronization  of user interface actions, and dual-screen operations.

Sensors:

The three-axis  accelerometers to determine  the orientation of  the  device  relative  to  gravity, the  angle between  faces.  A  strategically  placed  microswitch  senses detachment  of  each  screen.

Taking down notes and quick thoughts is a ‘key individual task’ for the developers.

Core Dual-Screen Interactions

Synchronized Clipboards and Tool Modes

The  clipboards of  each  screen’s  notebook  application  are synchronized by default, so that the user can copy and paste objects  across  screens.

Tool  modes (i.e.  lasso  selection, pen, highlighter, or eraser) are also synchronized so that the pen  applies  the  same  tool  regardless  of  which  screen  the user  writes  on. During  collaboration,  the screens maintain independent clipboards and tool modes so that the users do not interfere with each others’ actions.

Here is a 5 minute video of Codex – the dual screen Tablet of Microsoft being demoed and used:

http://blip.tv/file/get/IMav-MicrosoftTabletPrototype258.flv

Here is an article by the team behind Codex.

~Enjoy