Not only does Windows Vista make PC's look cool on the inside, with its swanky Glass effects as part of the Aero interface, but, for the last 7 months, Microsoft has offered computer manufacturers guidelines on colour, shape and other design elements for the actual hardware PCs that will run Windows Vista.
Microsoft's internal-hardware group already has announced a wireless, backlit keyboard to complement Vista and is expected to introduce more new mice and keyboards at an event later this week.
This article, over on Seattle Times: Business & Technology, states "By far most [Windows] sales are attached to new PCs, so Microsoft has a vested interest in ensuring that the entire PC package is compelling enough to draw in users," said Steve Kleynhans, vice president of Gartner's Client Platforms Group. "If the operating system looks good, but the PC looks bland and uninteresting ... consumers won't be as interested in buying a new machine or Vista""
It's clear to see from this comment, how important the look of the hardware has become. Take my home desktop PC for example - it is literally a boring white box, but now, if I were to buy a new desktop case, I could include neon lights, see-through casing and multi-coloured wiring, all powered by a light-emitting power supply, giving my bedroom the 'Blackpool Illuminations' look that I have always desired ;-)
Cool looking hardware is something many people are passionate about. I love spinning round my Tablet PC into tablet mode when I'm working on the train (It's guaranteed to get a look!) but in terms of styling hardware, the Mac has had it sewn up for a while now. "Apple Computer has shown that if you control the software and you control the hardware, you can make the two fit harmoniously into a beautiful, elegant package," said Don Norman, a former Apple executive who now consults with Microsoft and wrote the 2004 book "Emotional Design: Why We Love (or hate) Everyday Things."
According to Joshua Maruska, a senior industrial designer with Seattle-based Teague, "compelling design is a challenge in the PC industry"..."High-end editions of Vista include the "Aero" user interface, including a "glass" effect designed to make the system feel lighter and help users focus on content, rather than the interface surrounding it. Aero, an acronym for "authentic, energetic, reflective and open, " is something designers try to keep in mind as they create Vista PCs"
Hewlett-Packard is another hardware manufacturer keen to get involved; "HP is devoting considerable resources to integrate hardware and software," Sam Lucente, HP's vice president of design, said. However, the design of market leader Dell's latest line was not directly influenced by the Microsoft guidelines. "We do plan to incorporate Microsoft's new buttons onto our keyboard when Vista becomes available," Marco Peña, a Dell spokesman, said. "That is about the closest you will get to a direct connection between Microsoft's [industrial design] toolkit and Dell design."
Some of the cool hardware I have seen around on my travels, manages to combine sexy looks and styling, with excellent performance. An example of this includes, and I'll admit, this is a personal favourite of mine, is the Acer Ferrari series, and in particular, the new Ferrari 5000. Not only does it look good....
But it is spec'd up to the max! The Ferrari 5005WLMi has an AMD Turion™ 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-60 (2.0 GHz, 2 x 512 KB L2 cache) processor, a 15.4" WSXGA+ high-brightness (200 nit) Acer CrystalBrite™ TFT LCD with 1680 x 1050 pixel resolution (16ms), an ATI Mobility™ Radeon® X1600 with up to 512 MB HyperMemory™ (256 MB of dedicated GDDR3 VRAM; 256 MB of shared system memory), (deep breath...) a huge 160GB SATA HDD, a 2GB of DDR2 667 MHz memory (up to 4GB), 1X HD DVD-ROM drive, a 5-in-1 card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ solution, Bluetooth® 2.0+EDR, 1.3MP Acer OrbiCam™, and an Acer Bluetooth® VoIP phone!
You better be reading this Santa!! (Or Steve ;-) )
Anyway, enough of me - You can read Benjamin J. Romano's full article, entitled "Microsoft wants PC package to appeal to the eye" over at the Seattle Times: Business & Technology page.
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