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article imageOne of Microsoft's killed Nokia tablets has shown up online

By James Walker     Nov 30, 2015 in Technology
An image of a cancelled Microsoft tablet project has appeared online, revealing the company once worked on something very different from the metal Surfaces of today. Mercury is a bright and bold device with a design drawn from Lumia phones.
The image comes from renowned leaker Evan Blass, known as @evleaks. In recent times, Blass has found images of several shelved or cancelled Microsoft and Nokia projects, many of which look interesting but ultimately have never made it to market.
The Mercury tablet is one of these products, part of a quartet of tablets designed in part by Nokia and acquired by Microsoft after it bought the company. Ultimately, Pine, Illusionist, Vegas/Atlas and Mercury were all cancelled.
The tablet is pictured in a bright shade of blue. From the front, the device is largely dominated by its display with only a camera puncturing the glass on the top bezel. On the back, it's a different story, with the Microsoft logo taking centre stage and a large protruding camera lens next to it.
The camera is notable because it looks extremely similar to the design used on the Nokia Lumia 1520, the flagship Windows Phone of 2013. Without further details it's impossible to say whether Mercury does have the same imaging stack as the Lumia 1520 but it isn't just the camera that heavily draws on Lumia design.
The rounded but still relatively sharp corners are typical of Nokia's 2013 Lumia designs. Later 2014 models, built after Microsoft's acquisition of the company, opted for a fully rounded-off curve but it is the 2013 pointed look that defines Nokia's designs.
Mercury also has a distinctly Lumia look about it in general. The body appears to taper inwards, like the Lumia 1520 does, and the colour exudes the playfulness and vibrancy of Nokia's designs. Clearly, Mercury was a very different product to the tablets that Microsoft sells today, the exquisite and meticulous but businessman-friendly Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.
It is not clear what OS Mercury would have run but given the timing it seems likely it would have been Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 that was designed for tablets but quickly proved to be a major factor holding back their sales. Nokia did release a Windows RT tablet, the 2520, but it failed to catch on, as with every other device that used the fatally flawed platform.
Sadly, no exact details are available and we still know relatively little about Mercury or its siblings. The tablets were designed by Nokia but the presence of a Microsoft logo on this render shows the company did at least consider bringing the range to market. Ultimately, it ended up hidden from the public forever though, as with many other Nokia projects that Microsoft acquired but had no use for, such as the company's mysterious e-reader and smartwatch designs.
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