Microsoft kills off Pioneer Studios -

Software giant Microsoft has shut down Pioneer Studios, the lab which came up with ideas such as the Microsoft Courier, and worked on the Xbox 360, Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Kin.

The Studios were started inside the Vole Hill by J Allard and was supposed to come up with ideas for consumer hardware for Microsoft.

Parts of the Xbox 360, Zune, Kin and Windows Phone 7 all came from the studio. Oddly however it is the fabled Microsoft Courier tablet which is the outfit's main claim to fame.

The Courier was a "book PC" that would have had two touchscreens that faced each other. It ran with a stylus or finger touch screen and appeared to use a custom version of Windows CE.

It pre-dated the iPad and if Allard had been that successful in Redmond politics it might have even come out at the same time. It might have given the iPad a run for its money, or caused Microsoft more embarrassment, depending on who you talk to.

The closure of Pioneer Studios is related to J Allard's exit from Microsoft. Many observers expected Microsoft to use his departure to do something different with consumer products.

Georg Petschnigg, a cofounder of Pioneer Studios, says on his LinkedIn profile  that he is working on an "undisclosed new venture."   It is unlikely to be  anything like the Courier, which Microsoft announced had gone the way of the Dodo last year.