PC box assemblers try new paint jobs in fruitless hope of hiding rusty Windows inside

“When it comes to design, rival Apple gets most of the ink, but Microsoft wants to demonstrate that PCs running Windows can turn heads, too,” Steve Hamm and Jay Greene report for BusinessWeek.

MacDailyNews Take: Stomachs, yes. Heads, no. Unless they’re trying to turn them towards Apple Macs.

Hamm and Greene report, “‘There’s a new bar being set,’ says Dave Fester, general manager of PC product marketing at Microsoft. ‘The market is pushing computer makers to do this.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Not “the market,” Mr. Fester, Apple.

Hamm and Greene report, “PC makers are focusing as never before on turning utilitarian machines into fashion statements.”

MacDailyNews Take: And, yet, the PC box assemblers are stuck with Windows, which is your father’s OS. Only Apple Macs are OS-unlimited and can run Apple’s Mac OS X, Apple’s award-winning Mac-only apps such as iLife, Linux, and also slum it with Windows if necessary.

Hamm and Greene report, “Lenovo Group, the world’s No. 3 PC maker, is using the Vegas show to promote… three splashy notebooks—super-svelte and colorful, with textured covers that make them easy to grip… Hewlett-Packard, the leading consumer PC brand, will hawk such new models as its Blackbird 002, a black-clad desktop gaming PC whose insides, with a copper-piped liquid cooling system, are as pleasing to the eye as the exterior via an easy-to-open side cover… Even Dell has become style- conscious. Last year it brought out new consumer PCs that came in a choice of eight colors, including bubble-gum pink, yellow, green, and red.”

MacDailyNews Take: And you turn them on and what do you get? Windows Vista. A chrome-plated turd is still a turd. We prefer the minimalist, decidedly non-flashy aesthetic of Apple’s design master Jonathan Ive over garish colors, meaningless neon lights, unnecessary angles, pointless curves (ha, ha), etc.

Hamm and Greene report, “Until recently, PCs were viewed by many in the industry as low-margin commodities. What changed? Apple proved with its flashy iPods, iPhones, and MacBook laptops that design really matters to consumers.”

MacDailyNews Take: Actually, guys, we and most of the many Mac users that we hear from buy Apple Macs for the OS and software, just like we and most iPod and iPhone owners buy iPods and iPhones because of their intuitive software design and user interfaces. Apple’s external product designs are just elegant icing on masterfully-baked cakes.

Hamm and Greene report, “ASUSTeK Computer has taken the automobile analogy to its logical conclusion, producing a laptop specifically for racing fans. Its Lamborghini VX2 notebooks, with their shiny black or yellow covers and Lamborghini logos, even make vroom-vroom engine sounds when they boot up. The price: up to $3,300.”

MacDailyNews Take: The cluelessness astounds. At least the 27 cheesy stickers that these box assemblers are hell-bent on plastering all over their cases will make some sense this time. Get it? It’s a race car!

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As usual, PC box assemblers don’t get it. They stuck themselves to Microsoft Windows and now — to take the automobile analogy to its real logical conclusion — they’re resigned to painting the outside of their products in order to try to hide what’s rusting inside. Taking your products to Earl Scheib while continuing to preload the same old awful Windows along with mounds of crapware just isn’t going to cut it with today’s increasing tech literate consumers.


  1. Translation – Other companies want a piece of Apple’s high-margin up-market. They do not care about what’s good for their customers. They cannot afford to. So instead of creating integrated systems that marry software and hardware design, they guild the lilly (or in this case, the venus flytrap) with whatever hot pink is selling lipstick this week or fancy wood paneling.

    When car companies do this, you get the Vista Cruiser.
    When Dell does it, you get a Vista Looser.

  2. Oh man! I’ve been dying for a laptop that goes “VROOOM” when I start it up. Only $3,300? Fantastic! I hope it has Vista and a Lamborghini logo on it!

    Wait, you’re saying it’s available?

    This is the best day of my life!

  3. I agree with your takes, MDN, but what options do the PC assemblers have left? They can’t run Mac OS X. They can’t outright copy Apple’s hardware designs. By the way, I like to think that Apple’s hardware designs are extensions to the OS; they are symbiotic. Anyway, my point is, should the assemblers close up shop, continue with windows and (try to) improve that which they can actually control (hardware), attempt to make their own variation of Linux (or dare I say, Darwin?)

    I agree with the plea that they need to innovate, but do we really want each of these guys to release their own OSs? (Please, I used to have a Sager notebook…I can’t begin to fathom the atrocities they would commit!)

  4. “”Not “the market,” Mr. Fester, Apple.”

    Not Apple. The fact that case modders has been around for ages.”

    what do “case modders” and “design” have in common?

    that is like saying design matters in cars, after all, look at the spinning rims people buy!

    changing your ugly box to be even uglier is NOT design.

  5. @ macman

    I think the crux of the argument is that PC box assemblers crated an unsustainable business model. The whole idea behind a generic software reference model was to get cheap PCs into the hands of as many people as possible at the lowest cost.
    That model has pretty much run its course. The next step (har!) is to start building real computers. And maybe building the whole thing, instead of milking this outdated model.
    I think the PC makers *should* develop their own OSs. The tools to do so are out there, as Apple has proven. You can indeed create a user-friendly mass-market OS on top of a solid, time-tested foundation. The other companies are just too lazy and/or scared to do so while they can cheap out and use MS.
    I bet if you ask them, they tell you that they hate the corner that they’ve painted themselves into, now that they all operate at the whim of a company that consistently fails to execute or deliver anything new.

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