Bill Gates is often credited for inventing the tablet and predicting its ubiquity 10 years before Apple released the iPad. That's why it's extremely saddening to finally find out that it was Gates himself that killed the amazing dual-screen Courier concept tablet that Microsoft was planning.
The story goes like this: J Allard was the thinking man behind the Courier — a tablet meant to complement a PC (not replace) and a smartphone. Allard's main problem with the Courier was that he didn't want it to run Windows (or at least not any bulky desktop version) and that's where things broke down.
Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Division at Microsoft didn't want any Microsoft hardware to not run Windows. The problem reached the top of the Microsoft chain and landed on CEO Steve Ballmer's desk. He didn't know what to do, so he asked his trusty pal Bill Gates for advice.
What'd Bill say? Kill it.
Okay, maybe not those exact words, but he was the one who suggested Allard's Courier project be canceled because it had no plans to include products such as Outlook into it. In hindsight, asking Gates for advice probably wasn't Ballmer's best decision. It's disappointing because Microsoft wouldn't be two years behind the iPad when it launches the first Windows 8 tablets next year if the Courier made it out alive.
Although the Courier concept never made it out of the concept phase, at least we know who to point fingers at. Sad, it's at Gates. When Gizmodo broke the Courier news in 2010, everybody went gaga for it. I admit, I was blown away too.