Personal Tech

Microsoft's 'Surface Phone' is the ghost of Courier laughing mockingly at fanbois

New hinge design looks back not forward

By Andrew Orlowski

56 SHARE

The handful of fans anticipating a Microsoft "Surface Phone" should brace themselves for disappointment.

Just-published patents filed by Microsoft look back rather than forward: back to Courier, the code name for a booklet-style, hinged dual-display tablet product that Microsoft canned in 2010.

The "new" claims, filed in October last year, are for mechanical hinges so only give illustrations. A dual-display computer is one embodiment, while a folding alarm clock is another.

Even the size of the is about the same: the facing seven-inch displays. Judge for yourself. Here's a "Courier" illustration from a filing made in January 2010.

And the "new" patents.

Dual-screen phones or tablets are not new. For its devices, Yotaphone made one screen a low power monochrome eInk display that could be left on permanently for notifications. A crowdsourced knock-off called Popslate burned on the launchpad. Lenovo's Yoga Book, on the other hand, was widely marketed as a consumer product, and provided an experiment into how fast you can type on a flat touchscreen surface.

We suspect Lenovo's IP attorneys may have views about this. I'm sure they can all work something out.

Last year I called for Microsoft to ignore the mockers (like us) and launch more crazy hardware experiments. Amazon had only stumbled upon success by accident with its Alexa. Perhaps better advice for Redmond is sticking with what it launches: the very promising fitness Band was killed off after its (unreliable) second iteration – no chance of Microsoft "getting it right the third time" there.®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

56 Comments

More from The Register

Microsoft partner portal 'exposes 'every' support request filed worldwide' today

Exclusive No customer data visible but hell's bells, Redmond, what have you borked now?

Home users due for a battering with Microsoft 365 subscription stick

Job opening at Redmond points to new consumer services

It’s baaack – Microsoft starts pushing out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Set to update automatically? Say hello to my little friend…

US Department of Defense to sling an estimated $3.17bn at Microsoft resellers

Cash to be splashed over 10 years on software sporting a Microsoft badge

Microsoft pulls Office 2010 updates because they're big in Japan. As in, big pain in the ASCII

Software performance tweaks have opposite effect

It WASN'T the update, says Microsoft: Windows 7 suffers identity crisis as users hit by activation errors

Activation server fiddling on day of monthly update... really?

It's the wobbly Microsoft service sweepstake! If you have 'Teams', you've won a lifetime Slack sub

Just kidding, no one deserves that. But you'd be right

Pull request accepted: You want to buy GitHub, Microsoft? Go for it – EU

Eurocrats reckon that anti-competitiveness from Redmond would be a massive foot-shooting exercise

New era for Japan, familiar problems: Microsoft withdraws crash-tastic patches

Upcoming calendar change more than Office can handle

Microsoft has signed up to the Open Invention Network. We repeat. Microsoft has signed up to the OIN

That 60,000 patents in your pocket or are you just pleased to see us?