Microsoft still dreaming of Courier, patents dual screen “digital notebook”

Dual screen notebook

As far as we know Microsoft’s Courier project is stone dead, but like due to its rather violent demise it spirit clearly still haunts the company, as its ghost appears to pop up every once in a while.

On this occasion we have a patent submitted very recently, on the 30th September, for a device which clearly embodies many of the concepts we first saw in the leaked Courier project.

The patent is summarized as such:

Touch sensitive displays are configured to accept inputs in the form of touches, and in some cases approaching or near touches, of objects on a surface of the display. Touch inputs may include touches from a user’s hand (e.g., thumb or fingers), a stylus or other pen-type implement, or other external object. Although touch sensitive displays are increasingly used in a variety of computing systems, the use of touch inputs often requires accepting significant tradeoffs in functionality and the ease of use of the interface.

Accordingly, a touch sensitive computing system is provided, including a touch sensitive display and interface software operatively coupled with the touch sensitive display. The interface software is configured to detect a touch input applied to the touch sensitive display and, in response to such detection, display touch operable user interface at a location on the touch sensitive display that is dependent upon where the touch input is applied to the touch sensitive display.

In one further aspect, the touch input is a handtouch input, and the touch operable user interface that is displayed in response is a pentouch operable command or commands. In yet another aspect, the activated user interface is displayed upon elapse of an interval following receipt of the initial touch input, though the display of the activated user interface can be accelerated to occur prior to full lapse of the interval in the event that the approach of a pen-type implement is detected.

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.

The patent also seems to reference much of the technology we saw demonstrated in this Microsoft Research demo showing how productive the cooperation between pen and touch input can be.


At no time more than now has Microsoft been under more pressure to deliver innovative product to the market, especially in the tablet arena, and I suspect we may see many projects previously shelved by Microsoft work their way to the market rather rapidly.

Read the patent here.