"BusinessWeek has learned that a team of 20 in-house designers has been working quietly for the past 18 months on an elegant new look for PCs that will run Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows Vista. It’s a major departure for the company, which historically has left design to the likes of Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Gateway. Persuading the hardware guys to embrace the toolkit won’t be easy. They’re already working overtime to build better-looking gear on their own. "
“We’re decomposing the look and feel of Vista and bringing it into a language that hardware designers understand,” says Steve Kaneko, design director of Windows hardware innovation.
FYI, Microsoft will NOT be making any PCs. rather, they are creating a “hardware” style guide that they are suggesting manufacturers and designers use…they are hoping for more integration between the physical PC experience and their OS.
I’ve seen it…really really cool…but I’m skeptical that dell, lenovo, and HP will all of a sudden abandon their corporate look & feel to accomodate Microsoft, unless there is an elaborate business plan to encourage it…
There will be a first wave of hardware that benefits from the style, tapping into a lucrative segment that will seek it out and pay for it. No-name Chinese manufactures will benefit the most and we’ll see effects from that somehow (acceleration of Chinese brands?)
The established brands (Bose, Logitech, Belkin etc.) will treat the style guide as co-branding, holding closely to their identities while offering basics, like the Vista color palette. They’ll benefit just like they did with the iPod.
Fast-followers will show up with me too products at lower price points, commoditizing the goods. It’ll be a blood bath, and in record time!
The innovators will be forced to innovate to differentiate. Some will choose to (or have to) innovate the style, but they’ll keep elements of Vista to maintain a hold of that valuable segment.