Surface Pro: Modern Day Manifestion of Microsoft's Courier Concept?
Perhaps 'manifestation' is too strong of a word. Maybe 'pre-cursor to' would be a more appropriate phrase. But the more I read about the Surface Pro and approximate who might utilize the features it has to offer, the more parallels I draw to the Courier concept. The Courier is a digital Moleskine of sorts, seemingly aimed at students and creative professionals.
If you remember the rendered demos, MS proposed that you could sketch, take notes, read, collaborate, and more. I remember being blown away as I read all Courier related articles on various tech sites.
And then, it died.
It was a concept that everyone loved to love. Upon announcement that the Courier was never going to be produced, comment sections everywhere were filled with outcry and melancholy.
But doesn't the Surface Pro contain the spirit of the Courier in a package more marketable to the masses? It has all of the primary components: a portable form-factor, a capacitive touchscreen, and most importantly an active digitizer and pen. One could argue that a truer Courier parallel would be a Surface RT with active digitizer, except that wouldn't have been possible (at least in the current generation of Surface). Too expensive for people cross shopping the RT with iPads and similar ARM-based 10 inch tablets, and the Tegra 3 most likely would not have delivered an acceptable level of performance with the digitizer (maybe).
I have a suspicion that it could have been the MS equivalent of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, which The Verge reviewed unfavorably, and the theoretical Surface RT with digitizer wouldn't even have the benefit of Android's app ecosystem. You can find the Galaxy Note 10.1 review here.
The Surface Pro has the processing power to provide a non-frustrating computing experience with fluid pen input. And because it has inherited the compatibility catalog of Windows 8, the user doesn't have to wait for the perfect 'app' to come to their tablet to take advantage of its features.
I've read the reviews and understand the cons, including battery life and difficulty in using the Pro as a laptop, on your lap. But what if Microsoft had marketed the Surface Pro differently? What if there was no Touch/Type Cover that encouraged reviewers and consumers to make the comparison to Ultrabooks and Macbook Airs? What if this was introduced as the resurrection of the Courier?
I think Microsoft did a pretty great job on the first generation of Surface Pro. It is not the Courier, but it fulfills many of the Courier's ideas, and oh, it is real. I hear I'm supposed to vote with my wallet, so I'll be picking up a Surface Pro when it is released. Perhaps the Courier unicorn is just around the corner.