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Microsoft Shutters Consumer Skunkworks Unit ‘Pioneer Studios’

Microsoft shuts its “Pioneer Studios”—launched three years ago, Pioneer Studios was designed to be a hub of innovation, located in Seattle’s gritty Pioneer Square — as far away as possible from Microsoft’s corporate maze in Redmond. Headed by Allard, the father of the Xbox, it was a studio where “ideas could incubate and creative expression could flow unhindered,” according to SkB Architects, which designed the space.

Pioneer Studio

One video shows Petschnigg talking about Pioneer’s product focus. He said that the group focused on high-revenue consumer products, but only had a 20% success rate due to early adoption.

“Often times our work just doesn’t go anywhere. That’s one of the perils of being an entrepreneur,” he said.

One notable product was the failed Courier tablet. The two-sided device was more of a booklet than a tablet, with a touchscreen and stylus (Petschnigg refers to it as a digital journal on his LinkedIn profile). Though the device never made it outside of Microsoft’s labs, the prototype received a warm reception by critics, before the company shelved the project last year.

The team also worked on parts of the ill-fated Kin phone, the Xbox, Windows Phone 7 and the Zune music player.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the news, and said team members had moved to other divisions or left the company.

[Via: CNet, Techflash]

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