Courier tablet one of many Microsoft prototypes

The dual-screen prototype is indeed legit, but is just one of many prototypes cooked up as part of a skunkworks project being headed by J. Allard, sources tell CNET News' Ina Fried.

Microsoft does indeed have a dual-screen tablet code-named Courier, and it may not be the only gadget that the software maker has up its sleeves.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gizmodo revealed photos and a video of Courier--showing it to be a dual-screen tablet with both pen input and multitouch capabilities. Earlier this week, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley also reported that Microsoft was taking another swing at the tablet PC concept.

Gizmodo

My sources say it's legit, but I'm hearing that it's just one of several prototypes that has been cooked up as part of a skunkworks project being led by executive J. Allard and a small team of 'Softies.

Microsoft has been trying to keep Allard's work under wraps--even locating Allard's team well away from the rest of Microsoft's main Redmond campus. Until it was shown by Gizmodo, not only was Courier's existence a surprise to many outside Redmond, few inside the company were aware of it either.

Whether Courier--or any of its still-secret brethren--actually come to market is still yet to be determined, I'm hearing. That said, the tablet PC is a long-held dream of founder and Chairman Bill Gates, who said that he hoped the device would continue to evolve even after he stepped away from full-time work at the company.

And, with Apple rumored to be doing its own tablet, it would seem that Microsoft would hate to have wasted a decade tinkering with the concept only to cede the mass market to Apple.

For its part, Microsoft chalked Courier up to rumor and speculation and declined comment.

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