Two would-be Microsoft-based competitors pre-emptively bit the dust yesterday -- both Microsoft's own Courier and HP's Windows 7 Slate are no more, and it's fairly safe to say a third, Fusion Garage's JooJoo, is being kept alive on life support for now. all this follows 500,000+ opening week iPad Wi-Fi sales for Apple, and comes on the eve of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G release.

Courier was never made manifest beyond some animated concept movies showing off a dual-screen, notebook-like device with innovative UI and finger and pen-based input. The video was promising enough to wow the tech world but at the same time set expectations incredibly high for software that didn't exist. That could have been a factor in the cancelation, along with the realities of trying to sell a device whose price-point would literally be double the iPad's. Gizmodo, who broke word of the Courier's existing, also tolled its end:

At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.

The HP Slate was less vapor, more ware, and was even given the Ballmer-bump during the CES 2010 keynote in an effort to show up Apple. The idea of an extra chunky Intel tablet running a desktop OS like Windows 7 probably appealed to power users, and to HP until about a minute after they bought Palm. TechCrunch has heard through sources that the Slate is no more. We're betting the timing is no coincidence and HP re-announces a much more mobile-friendly, webOS based Slate in the future.

Oh, and Engadget says the JooJoo is being updated.

[Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget]