Back in 2010, Bill Gates had to make a decision that could change the direction of Microsoft. He had been called in to decide the fate of a new tablet computer called the Courier that users could control with a finger or pen. Gates decided to kill the Courier and the rest is history.

The untold story about how Microsoft killed its tablet computer that could have rivaled Apple's iPad was released by CNET from a series of interviews with Microsoft employees who had been involved in the project. According to the report, the Courier was a project by Xbox creator J Allard that ran on a modified version of Windows. This modified Windows OS was called into question by Steven Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, who didn't like having a product that could threaten Microsoft's flagship operating system. Bill Gates was called in to mediate between the two competing visions. Gates decided on the thing that was Microsoft's bread and butter, its Windows OS.

It's easy to look at that decision and point out that Gates had made the wrong call. If only he had green lit, the Courier, Microsoft would be in a much better position in the tablet market instead of running behind Apple's iPad. What few realize is that Gates actually made the right call against the Courier.

For one thing, the Courier would have run against the company's main selling point, the Windows OS. Microsoft would also have needed to manufacture hardware for the two-screen tablet and that's never been something that the company has been good at. And the final nail in the coffin? Allard and company never intended for the Courier to have an e-mail client. The Courier was only going to serve a select audience like designers or writers and that really isn't a good business plan especially for a product that would have cost a lot to produce.

Microsoft is now behind smartphone and tablet sales to Apple and Google. Would the Courier have made a difference if Microsoft had released it back then? That seems unlikely. Gates actually did the right thing by Microsoft in killing the Courier.