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Microsoft Encouraging OEMs to Beautify Computers 563

Grooves writes "Microsoft has shipped a 'Vista Industrial Design Toolkit' to PC manufacturers, meant to encourage them to design computers that are more visually appealing. From the article: 'From color palettes to suggestions about how the power and reset buttons should appear, the kit basically describes Microsoft's vision of what a Vista PC should look like. The look features accelerated curves and purposeful contrast, among other qualities.' The report goes on to say that Microsoft wants 'PCs to be objects of pure desire.' Sound familiar? It's hard to see budget-conscious OEMs stepping up to this."
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Microsoft Encouraging OEMs to Beautify Computers

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  • by Stavr0 ( 35032 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @12:56PM (#15825748) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft wants 'PCs to be objects of pure desire.'

    I desire my PC to be pure of spyware, security flaws and unstability.

    • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:08PM (#15825865) Journal
      I desire my PC to be pure of spyware, security flaws and unstability.

      Somehow Macs do this and manage to be sexy at the same time. That said, I have a PC at work and home. I'd buy a Mac for home except that Macs are sadly lacking in the one field in which I work (video game development).
      • by creepynut ( 933825 ) <teddy(slashdot)> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:15PM (#15825932) Homepage
        If that's you're only reason, why don't you buy a Mac and use Bootcamp to install Windows on it? Have the best of both worlds.
      • Development? You serious?

        Is OpenGL+SDL that bad?

        Anyway, my Linux manages to do this, be sexy, and still play Half-Life 2.
        • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:10PM (#15826924) Journal
          Is OpenGL+SDL that bad?

          When you're writing stuff for PC and XBOX (or XBOX 360), you use DirectX not OpenGL. PS2 usually uses a custom renderer or a package like Renderware. Only PS3 uses a graphics API similar to OpenGL and most people are going to bypass that for the low-level graphics API for performance reasons. Game Development IDES like Visual Studio (XBOX/XBXO360), SN (PS2/PS3), and CodeWarrior (PS2/PSP/etc) have licensing controls built-in that *ONLY* allow them to run on specific Windows PCs (either by MAC # or with floating licenses off an attached network server). Additional debugging tools (PIX, CATS, WinPACon, etc.) only run on Windows. At one time, Sony actually made a lot of their PS2 tools run on Linux but since developers had to use Windows for everything else, this effort hindered the tool usage until they made cygwin ports for windows. Finally, no one in the industry has made any serious effort to get the game-programming specific development tools we use to run on Macs.

          Macs are sexy and nice, they're just not practical for my job. Sorry...
      • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:16PM (#15825949)
        You ever think that you're in a position to, y'know, change that?
        • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:49PM (#15826772) Journal
          You ever think that you're in a position to, y'know, change that?

          To be honest, in my current position as a game programmer for a major company, I have almost no control over the actual platforms we target for game design for current gen or next gen. These decisions are made much higher by management and marketing based on potential market and profitability. When it costs $10-20 million to make a game, no one wants to target a small unproven market. The best they'll risk is low-cost ports after the main game is written. In other words, incremental work that may increase the ROI from the already complete game. Find me a single publisher who will fund a 20-30 person team on a Mac game for two or more years because a programmer told them to do so and I'll eat my words. That's the effort going into high-end PC and console games right now and the sad facts of the economics.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      by Stavr0 (35032)

      You MUST be an editor of slashdot, right? ;)
    • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:28PM (#15826051) Journal
      Microsoft wants 'PCs to be objects of pure desire.'
      I desire my PC to be pure of spyware, security flaws and unstability.
      Pure desire leads to porn sites.
      Porn sites lead to spyware.
      I see your point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @12:57PM (#15825757)
    We want you to look more like a Mac.
  • by SlideWRX ( 660190 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @12:58PM (#15825767)
    Unless encased in Jessica Abla, it will never be an object of desire.
    • by fuzz6y ( 240555 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:00PM (#15825787)
      Well, she does feature accellerated curves and purposeful contrast.
  • vs Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @12:58PM (#15825770) Journal
    MS is just trying to grab a few sales away from Apple at the expense of the OEMs. Why not? MS doesn't have anything to loose on this one - the OEMs are the ones taking the risk.

    Dan East
    • Re:vs Apple (Score:5, Funny)

      by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:09PM (#15825868) Homepage
      You're right.

      In the Dell Corprate HQ.... "Mike, we want you to make Dells look pretty so people won't notice Vista as much"

      "Fuck off, Ballmer"
      • Re:vs Apple (Score:3, Funny)

        by binkzz ( 779594 )
        In the Dell Corprate HQ.... "Mike, we want you to make Dells look pretty so people won't notice Vista as much"

        "Fuck off, Ballmer""

        It'd be pretty funny if Dell started producing chair shaped Vista machines.
    • Re:vs Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) *
      Trying to give its OS a Tux on release date. That is the first thing about XP that always annoyed me. It never looked right on most Computers. Black PC's with Black Flat Screens it looked OK. But on White Boxes with White CRTs or Silver it just looked out of place. OS X looks like it fits on Macs and it was designed for that.
      I don't see it as a way to fight Apple but just as a way to get a better selling of their products. If you can have manufactures in their showrooms showing Vista on a computer that
    • Loose vs. lose (Score:2, Informative)

      lose (verb): to not win
      loose (adjective): slack, not tight

      Come on, guys. English isn't *that* hard to get right.
  • Design from MS? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @12:59PM (#15825776)
    Would you really want to take design suggestions from MS? I can't think of anything they've designed (on their own) that looks like I'd want to put my name on it and sell it.
  • After all, that's where everybody keeps their porn.

  • Not necessary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:00PM (#15825784)
    It's true that Apple attracts a certain "I don't know what" kind of person. Apple's success, however, is not based on its cosmetic appeal. Apple offers much more beyond just its good looks. It's like Apple and and its users signed up on eHarmony and found each other. If Vista is stable and easy to use, then MS won't need the glitz and glamour to attract customers since they already have a majority of the customers. MS will only have to retain customers, which it can do with a great Vista release.
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:00PM (#15825785) Homepage Journal
    ...after 20+ years Microsoft finally "gets it" or at least half of "it"? Oooh shiny wins with consumers every time. Apple knew this when they made the first Macs. But Apple also knew the other half of the equation that MS is still not getting: "just works".
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:10PM (#15825881)
      Then please explain MS's 95% marketshare versus Apple's 5%? Shiny only wins when all else is equal. Most consumers are bang-for-the-buck types, and Windows boxes win that battle hands down. It never ceased to amaze me how add-ons for Macs were always twice (or more) expensive than their "PC" counterparts. I would submit that Apple finally "got it" when they started using standard DIMMs (versus proprietary), PCI-based graphics (versus proprietary), IDE drives (versus SCSI), USB (in addition to firewire), standard monitors, and now Intel CPUs. If anything Apple has moved much closer to a Windows PC, and so it is only natural, to combat the threat, that MS attempt to close the "shiny-ness" gap.
      • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eno2001 ( 527078 )
        Marketshare means nothing if you're not interested in profit. The fact is that Mac users love their machines with a passion that you will never see on the Windows side. Mac users are satisfied with what Apple has provided them with at every turn. And that is because Apple knows its users and respects them. Unlike Microsoft and the OEM vendors. To them, you're just another sale. You get what you get and you just sit there and suck it if it's not to your liking. With Apple, they pay attention to the se
      • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by linguae ( 763922 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:54PM (#15826299)
        Then please explain MS's 95% marketshare versus Apple's 5%

        I believe that is due to misshaps that Apple made during the early and mid 90s (this is before Steve Jobs and OS X). Apple had a hard time creating a modern OS (Pink, Taligent, Copland), while Microsoft started to improve their OSes to the point that they surpassed the original Mac OS in stability and performance while almost matched it in usability (Windows 95 and especially Windows NT-based products). In 1999, I'd choose Windows 2000 over Mac OS 9 any day for most tasks. Had Apple's failed OS ventures actually didn't fail, then perhaps Apple's marketshare would be much more substantial.

        Windows and non-Mac PCs are still selling very well for a few reasons. Businesses are still heavily dependent on Windows software. But the biggest reason why MS has 95% and Apple has 5% is the price of admission is much lower. You can buy an entry level desktop for $300 and an entry level laptop for $600. It would come with some Celeron processor, a somewhat shabby graphics card, the traditional bundled applications (that don't really play together with other applications, unlike iLife and OS X's integration), and XP Home. However, this is what 90% or so of the computer population wants to buy; a computer fast enough to do email, word processing, photo editing, DVD watching, web browsing, music downloading, and other everyday tasks. For them, that $300 Celeron machine or $600 Celeron laptop would suffice.

        Now, if you spend $600 (or $1100 for the laptop), you can get a Mac. The Mac comes with OS X, iLife, a pretty nice processor (1.5GHz Core Solo for the $600 Mac Mini, 1.66GHz Core Duo for the $800 Mini, and 1.83GHz Core Duo for the $1100 MacBook), decent graphics (I'm typing this on a MacBook now; the Intel Integrated Graphics on this machine isn't very hampering unless you are a intense gamer, which I am not). All of the iLife applications work together. I enjoy the searching capabilities of Spotlight and use them every day. I like how Spotlight is integrated with all of my other applications. For a Unix hacker like myself, the terminal is just a click on the Dock away. I don't have to worry about bad drivers, malware, viruses, or anything like that. I work with a peace of mind.

        Macs are worth the price. When I showed my parents and siblings my Mac and fooled around with it for a few days, they fell in love with it. They were sold on buying a Mac, and they are now saving up for a iMac. The problem is that cheaper PCs are good enough for 90% of the market. Windows XP "just works" now (as long as you keep an eye on security), and Vista will be far better than XP (insert "it's a copy of OS X here"; say what you want, but Vista is still better than XP). Perhaps they haven't had exposure to OS X; my parents were sold on the Mac within a few days. Perhaps they still must have a Windows PC for their jobs (and they don't know that Intel Macs can run Windows natively). Or, perhaps that money is an issue for most people.

        Many people say that in order for Apple to increase its marketshare, they should release OS X to all x86 PCs. After owning a Mac for a few days, I'll disagree. Most users don't know how to install an OS, assuming that they know what an OS is. Plus, part of the benefit of buying a Mac is that you know that all of your hardware works. You don't have to scrounge the Net looking for drivers; your hardware in most cases "just works." Finally, it will make Apple have to compete with Microsoft in Microsoft's domain: OSes. Apple would be back in the Spindler/Amelio days of cloning and red ink. The best way for Apple to raise its marketshare is to lower its price of admission and provide some more variety in Mac offerings (while retaining a clear-cut consumer/pro line). How about a Core Solo MacBook for $700? How about knocking down the Mac Mini to $500 again just like it was originally was in January 2005. How about releasing that iMac for Education to the general public for $999? That will make a large increase in Apple's marketshare, because they will be much closer to the price points that most consumers buy their computers at.

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:02PM (#15826377)
        Then please explain MS's 95% marketshare versus Apple's 5%?

        Actually, MS has 100% market share if you consider that Windows now runs natively on Apple hardware. But you'd be better off considering Apple as a harware manufacturer and comparing them to Dell, HP and the likes and not Microsoft.

        Here are Gartner's numbers []

        Which show Apple is the 4th largest after Dell, HP and Gateway.

        Comparing OS numbers is only relevant for Software developers now that Macs run Windows. Which may have been brilliant marketing, but also the new reality.

    • Re:So... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oooh shiny wins with consumers every time.

      That certainly explains why Apple continues to dominate sales of new PCs.
  • haha (Score:5, Funny)

    by spykemail ( 983593 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:00PM (#15825792) Homepage
    Sounds like Microsoft should try getting Apple to ship Macs with Windows.
    • I'm going off topic, bit it's funny you say this, because just today I was talking with my coworkers about the Intel iMacs and, says I, "Macintosh would be very smart to ship a bare-bones intel system without OS X installed, or with XP installed, because I think I would like to upgrade some of the executives with Macintosh's hardware."

      You see, since I work for a greeting card company we have a lot of the Mac vs. PC compatability issues. Thus, now and then we get a request for IT to install a Macintosh for s
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:03PM (#15825817) Homepage Journal
    how the power and reset buttons should appear
    The reset button will need to be large and easily accessible, for sure.
    • There is a small reset button on my powerbook. I don't remember ever using it.
    • The reset button on most Pocket PCs is much better than on Palms. On most iPaqs, Toshibas and LOOXes you don't even need to unscrew anything, because Reset can be pressed with the stylus.
      Palm's PDAs on the other hand have reset pins that need to be unscrewed from the stylus to be used. And some even need a third-party paperclip! Unfortunately Palms have about the same freeze rate as Pocket PCs.
    • ...should be blue (to match the screen.)
  • Well, if they're concentrating on this now then Vista *MUST* be free of all security holes, instabilities, and bugs. Right?

    • Yes, because we all know the art deparment is SO instrumental in keeping a computer 'free of all security holes, instabilities, and bugs'.

      Why do people think that a cmpany -must concentrate all their focus on 1 thing at a time? All successful companies are balanced and work on many things at once.
  • Hot grits? (Score:2, Funny)

    by krell ( 896769 )
    Well they sell me boxes of instant grits to go with that Natalie Portman-shaped computer?
  • Yet further (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kahei ( 466208 )

    This is yet further evidence of how MS have forgotten and broken their business model. They rose to prominence on cheap commodity hardware -- they empowered users and manufacturers alike to use whatever they wanted to get the job done, at a time when NeXT, SGI, Apple and Sun were competing to lock customers in to shiny, proprietary, non-serviceable hardware.

    Hard to believe that even the most fundamental lessons from MS's years of success can have been forgotten -- but there it is.
    • Have you opened a big-name OEM box nowdays?

      It's basically non-serviceable, unless you buy overpriced parts from the OEM.

      Yes, you can swap hard disks and optical drives, and maybe add/replace RAM, but otherwise they are full of servicing pitfalls.
    • It's not that they've forgotten their business model, but that it's become outdated, specifically because of their success. When you have 95% of the market, you have no place to go but down. Offering users greater choice and freedom won't help you grow, but it only makes it easy for people to use something else.

      And that's the great inversion of this whole story, is that by being successful, Microsoft has forced itself into a corner where it needs to be anti-competitive in order to keep their market. At

  • Oh, so important. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:06PM (#15825851) Journal
    From TFA:

    Not all OEMs are happy to see this kit. Lenovo, the company that took over IBM's PC manufacturing business, doesn't see how adhering to the design will help their company. "Our ability to differentiate ourselves comes from our industry-leading innovation," a Lenovo spokesperson told Businessweek. "And design is a big part of that."

    Oh, sure. After all, we know how unbelievably gorgeous Lenovo laptops [] are.*

    Actually, I suspect that this, more than anything else, is a sign of just how concerned Microsoft is that Apple is about to eat their lunch. The "beautify the box" message is inteneded as a point of product differentiation, but the only other product in this space who is doing better than Microsoft here is Apple. Unless you know of a company who is making really attractive Ubuntu boxes. (And if so, please let me know. I have a birthday coming up.)

    * I should note at this point that in my previous job I administered a lab full of IBM ThinkPads. They were absolutely monster workhorses, and I have nothing bad to say about them. I mean, other than the fact that I was stupid and didn't set BIOS passwords right away, and as a result lost one laptop to some MBA student thinking he'd be cute and setting a boot password. Whoopsie.
    • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:10PM (#15825887) Homepage Journal
      I find ThinkPads gorgeous for the same reason people find Mag-Lite flashlights and most Apple laptops gorgeous: simple, unfettered design that emphasizes usability. No unnecessary chrome except for a simple, tasteful logo. (Yes the Apple logo is large, but it's still more subtle than the Xbox-1-controller-jewel-like bumps on the top of many Dell and Compaq laptops.)
    • Yeah, thinkpads were pretty ugly but also mighty fine, which was the cause of their popularity with geeks. They're just plain black boxes, but I swear, some of those models, I'd be willing to jump up and down on them with little fear of breaking anything.
    • Thinkpads are unbelievably gorgeous. I say that in all seriousness. They're beautiful.
  • I wonder if Real Doll would consider partnering with Microsoft in creating a new type of chassis? Muahhaha... let the imagination wander!
  • Hard to see? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:10PM (#15825884)

    Somehow the phrase, "Microsoft-approved" seems to be heading in a direction that I never thought possible. Not only will software writers have to conform, but now PC manufacturers should worry about how their systems look, just because they *might* be used to run Vista? What arrogance. Some things never change.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:11PM (#15825893) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure I agree with the "Be like a Mac!" comparison. For most PC manufacturers, having their own "look and feel" has been part of what has given them a strong brand name. Sure, Microsoft wants to grab some of that brand recognition beyond just the bootup splash screen (and the desktop look and feel), but I also think this will create more than just brand recognition for Microsoft -- I believe it will also produce an interesting "playing field" for companies beyond the Big Four (Dell, Gateway, HP/Compaq, Toshiba). Consider the smaller OEMs and white box companies -- by providing a standardized look and feel, this will open the door of opportunity for many more companies. Sure, the big guys probably don't WANT this (they want to keep their look and feel in order to keep their branding strong), but it could create a new competitive atmosphere by giving smaller companies a foot in the door to compete on the look and feel front.

    I've always loved third party cases and keyboards and monitors moreso than the Big Four for the same reason that I've always liked clones -- they've pushed the envelope before the big guys did. The downside is that the clones never seemed to sell well in the corporate environment nor in the newb home environment; the clones were just powerhouse sellers for us geeks. By having Microsoft "dictate" what they want to see, we may actually see more third parties offering competition to the Big Four, which in turn could see prices drop a bit more, which could push more legal Microsoft products into the fray.

    All around, there are some Mac-branding similarities, but I don't really think that is Microsoft's desired goal to miMac (mimic the Mac, in my vernacular). I think it is just a good idea that will help the little(r) guys, and still give the big guys a chance to offer different products that the market can choose from.
  • Good thing there is a good rnd division []
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:14PM (#15825924)
    Introduction: How to Steal Back the Market from Apple - i
    Getting Smart: Our new user interface needs some magic and copies Aqua -1
    Making Titanium-looking cases from inexpensive aluminum -2
    Preventing dual-boot -3
    Wacky driver troubleshooting -4
    Thwarting competing anti-virus makers-5
    Understanding why we have so many versions of the same thing, and how to sell it -6
    Learning how to shave like Steve Jobs -7
    Appendix A: Stock options manual for new employees
    Appendix B: Using your wife's PR company to kill everyone's love for you
    Appendix C: Why Longhorn isn't a cheese
  • by portege00 ( 110414 ) <npbradshaw@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:16PM (#15825940) Homepage
    Put nipples on the reset and power button. If you're going to reboot the POS everyday, why not get a little titty with it?
  • by sootman ( 158191 )
    It's hard to see budget-conscious OEMs stepping up to this.

    They'll try, and fail, as they have in the past. Remember that little blue Compaq that looked kind of like an SGI O2? It had an LCD panel in the front that could show you the time or if you had emails. (This was made when Celeron 500s were cool--I remember a friend had one.) How about that little grey tube thingie that Dell made for a while, a little after Compaq ditched that blue model? I think it was called, like, Web Jr., or something. Came and w
    • How about that little grey tube thingie that Dell made for a while, a little after Compaq ditched that blue model? I think it was called, like, Web Jr., or something. Came and went in a matter of months.

      Ah, yes, the Dell WebPC, I remember laughing about that one. What a half-assed, me-too product. You are correct in your recollection that it didn't last very long. A quick Googling reveals it was announced on November 30, 1999 and quietly discontinued in June of 2000.

  • cash (Score:3, Funny)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:16PM (#15825946) Homepage Journal
    ...meant to encourage them to design computers that are more visually appealing.

    It's a lot like the toolkit they shipped to DC lobbyists encouraging the govt to go easy a few years ago. No wait, that was cash....

  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:18PM (#15825959) Journal
    A number of years ago there was a brief trend of clothing that had been shot full of holes. People were selling jeans, t-shirts, jackets, etc, that had been shot with automatic rifles and such. Manufacturers of Windows PCs should try to bring that idea back. Aside from being an cheap and easy way to make a generic case look cool, it will save the buyer's valuable time (and ammunication.)
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:19PM (#15825969)
    Please make it close to the size of a laptop.
    I don't want a another pretty but big object in my house.
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:23PM (#15826004)
    but I imagined pile of them sitting in a dumpster covered in penguin shit
  • Dear John (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:28PM (#15826045)
    Dear Microsoft,

    It seems that you are doing a lot of things lately to tell me what I want out of your products. Vista's new UI, and now these fancy industrial design specs.

    Guess what? I couldn't care less what the shape of my PC is. It is under the desk with my UPS, subwoofer and trash can. And I have no need for a fancy new desktop UI, especially one that takes resources away from what I actually want to do with my computer, like photo and video editing.

    What I want is excellent software, compatible with open standards, for a reasonable price. You used to deliver this. When you delivered virtual memory and preemptive multitasking, you were ahead of Apple. Now you seem way behind. And also, I want you to support open standards so that I can use other products with others that haven't paid you a licensing fee, such as open source. I'm not a sheep to lock in. Hello Linux and OSX.

    And your prices are far from reasonable. The fact that I can't transfer a OEM Windows licence from one PC to another is rubbish. The fact that you want $399 for the standard edition of office, which I have paid you for several times over the years is robbery. I was happy with the functionality of office five years ago. Why should I need to buy it again? Hello, Open Office.

    I'm not a sheep, Microsoft. You used to be innovative. Now you are all about marketing. Its been fun, but we're breaking up!
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) * <nsayer @ k f u . c om> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:30PM (#15826068) Homepage
    suggestions about how the power and reset buttons should appear

    Macs don't have reset buttons. 'nuff said.

  • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @01:34PM (#15826111)
    On one of my rare walks through Walmart yesterday, I noticed a DVD player for $34.00.

    It's hard to imagine that there is $1200 worth of electronics in the new Dell computer I just got at work. As cell phones and iPod-like devices become ever-more powerful at sub-$200 prices, it's going to cast an ever-more powerful spotlight on the PC market. I've thought for some time that we are on the verge of seeing PC's become commoditized like calculators.

    This latest blurb from Mircosoft is an attempt to stop PCs from becoming generic commodities - because once they start to look like that consumers will expect them to be priced like that.

    I already do. :)

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:04PM (#15826394) Homepage
    Those OEMs couldn't "beautify" anything if their life depended on it. If they could, they'd already do so. The best they can do is steal Apple's 3 year old designs.
  • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:08PM (#15826427)
    ...that nobody's going to buy it because of the operating system.
  • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:24PM (#15826545)
    As a starting point, I'd like to suggest designers read, "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink, and check out some articles at: []. Furthermore, I suggest visiting IDEO []. Pay special attention to their "method card" deck. Lastly (for purposes of this discussion) I suggest visiting [] . The common thread in all this is DESIGN. William McDonough says that the need for regulation indicates a failure in design.

    The design of the product goes 'way beyond just cosmetics. There is only so much you can do with an enclosure for a PC board, but there is LOTS you can do with the system as a whole. Case modding is just a place to start. Functional design improvements are being made in everything from the input devices (,1697,1112012 ,00.asp [] [] ) to really innovative interfaces ( [] []).

    The IDEO method cards are different from the "Creative Whack Pack" or "Thinkertoys" cards, in that they redefine the product design domain. The jobs of the future are going to be design jobs requiring both high creativity and high technical ability. If someone in India or China can do your job as well and cheaper than you, or if a computer can do your job better and faster, your job is obsolete.
  • by FellowConspirator ( 882908 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:38PM (#15826671)
    Fewer cables -- particularly power cables and power bricks. Things ought to daisy chain. Also, the computer ought to be able to power off devices when not needed (think external peripherals).

    Lower electrical power -- I'd like to be able to reel in consumption, slow down the CPU and power use when not needed. If drives took less power, you could run them off some daisy-chained juicier USB2 or FireWire.

    Quieter machines -- one shouldn't have to sacrifice or pay big bucks just to knock 20dB off the sound output of the fans/drives.

    Fast bluetooth -- or an equivalent thereof. Maybe something that would make sense with external HDDs, as well as cameras, camcorders, phones, etc. Monitors?

    Cheap low-power monitors with decent color for video work would be nice too (the LCDs with the truest color are just too expensive compared to the CRTs).

    After that, I'd put aesthetics -- which I don't care too much about since my PC's under the desk.
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:39PM (#15826676)
    I don't see a large mass of people falling over themselves to upgrade to Vista. Most are just happy with what they have. My PC is nearly 6 yrs old, but I have no need to upgrade. I'm not editing video, and the last game I was into in a big way was Doom. Cruise the web and read email about does it for me nowadays. Compared to the vast majority of the people I meet, I'm a power user that lives for my computer. So how do we get people to buy new computers (MS' biggest source of OS revenue), if they're plenty happy with the one they have? Make the box pretty.

    There was a big push to beautify boxes just after Apple started their resurgance. It had an impact, but not a big one. People still looked for the same thing...the cheapest price. I don't know anyone who will buy a new computer just because the new one has a prettier box.
  • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:17PM (#15826977)
    I don't care what my computer looks like -- ugly can be covered or ignored. It is much more difficult to quiet or ignore a noisey computer.
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:41PM (#15827139)

    MS is a software company not hardware. Although, in the last decade it can be argued that the products only exist to give the marketing department something to do.

    This "Industrial Design Toolkit" screams "we're afraid of Apple". MS obvisously wants to strongarm the OEMs into creating simulacrums of Apple's product design philosophy. It works for Apple because there's really only one person at the top: Steve Jobs. Never mond the fact that Apple hardware and software visually mesh, with the design itself being clean and elegant, if not minimalist.

    MS plus all the OEMs will not be able to pull this off. Will Dell, HP, Lenovo, or any other OEM be willing to adhere to design guidelines that reduce or eliminate the recognizability of their products for the sake of the software installed on them (which is not their product)? Hell no. The next step would be for MS to require that all laptops have a light-up Windows logo on the back of the screen in order for the OEM to get reduced cost Windows licensing. The OEMs will laugh at that, and many lawyers will get rich off of the lawsuits.

    The only way an industry wide hardware branding for Vista can happen is if MS outright buys the PC divisions of every OEM in existance, and begin to make themselves into a mirror of Apple. But, they won't do that, because a 400% margin on software (Office) is more profitable than an 8% margin on all the hardware to run Office. Of course, it's more than likely that they would completely botch this, and in 10 years there would be little left of the PC market.

    Plus, this is just another seemingly innocent move which reveals that MS is very afraid that Vista won't sell on its own.

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:56PM (#15827240) Journal
      This "Industrial Design Toolkit" screams "we're afraid of Apple". MS obvisously wants to strongarm the OEMs into creating simulacrums of Apple's product design philosophy. It works for Apple because there's really only one person at the top: Steve Jobs. Never mond the fact that Apple hardware and software visually mesh, with the design itself being clean and elegant, if not minimalist.
      Or maybe, just maybe, they want to see themed computers, because they do actually look better. Plus if the style is unified, it's less work for the user to figure out how to turn on the machine.

      I see absolutely nothing wrong with suggesting that OEMs try to build cases using certain styles.
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#15827284)
    I'm not sure i'd want MS picking my color scheme, see the microsoft grovy wireless mouse [] as an example.

    But i'm all for breaking away from the ubiquitous beige box. Granted these days it's the ubiquitous black box, but the point is valid. A computer is a household appliance not unlike your TV or your dish washer. People go out of their way to buy matching washers and dryers. Dishwashers are often sold with optional faceplaces to match the kitchen. And there is always a tendy color of the decade such as avacado or almond. If microsoft wants to go out of their way to create color pallets, more power to them. Odds are there would be one that is not too offencive. It would be nice to be able to at the very least get a matching monior, keyboard, and printer.

    But most important, really most imporant I see is standarzing the size and shape and color of the power and reset buttons. This isn't an issue for slashdot users, but joe user and easily be confused with the placement of the power button. I'm not being insulting, you can spy them with ease if you look dead on but when the desktop moves under the desk, the only thing you can see is this round bit and this other round bit, where round bit could be sleep, reset, or off. And between the location and placement of power buttons on desktops, monitors, printers, well you can see where this would be an issue. This is one of those cases where it doesn't actually matter too much what the end result looks like, so long as there is something consistent. For example, no bugger knows how to turn on my canon ip5200 printer, they alway hit the silver button next to the unlit LED which is resume stop, or the button dead center which is the front cover release.

  • Hopeless (Score:4, Funny)

    by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @05:36PM (#15827846)
    Even if they get top-of-the-line architects to perfect the exterior, the software is still designed by Frank Gehry.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears