The Tablet PC is an example of hardware that pretty much exists due to Microsoft.. The concept is inherently a fusion of hardware and software â€“ Windows for Tablet PC isnâ€™t relevant unless you have a laptop with a swivelling screen that you can write on. This page is another example of Microsoft reference hardware, but again it was left to the partners to come up with actual products.
The Tablet PC never became the success that Microsoft hoped it would but there is a very fine example of Redmond hardware that was a huge success. The X-Box. The X-Box and the X-Box 360 are based on based on the PC architecture and are sold under the Microsoft brand. People might have issues, but no one can argue that for what youâ€™re getting its amazing value and the integration of Microsoft hardware and the interface is really slick.
So why canâ€™t Microsoft do the same for the PC? The hardware could be very specific, legacy free, and the OS could be tailor made for it, to give the same silky smooth performance of an X-Box. Obviously for some people the very thought of a Microsoft PC would fill them with horror. Itâ€™s bad enough that Windows is thrust upon the computing world without a PC doing it as well. But as it would just be a brand alternative in a sea of Wintel boxes, it would be fair enough that it would come with Microsoftâ€™s own browser pre-installed, and ok that you wouldnâ€™t be able to install any other OS onto it. Buyers would know what they were getting into. And presumably, the open source enthusiast community would waste no time in cracking any DRM to be able to be the first to get up that screenshot of Linux running on Microsoft hardware, just as happened with the X-Box.
But while the X-Box is a good example of Microsoft done right, Iâ€™m not convinced it would make a success of a Microsoft PC. The story of how it promised the earth with Vista only to produce what is looking like an average clone of the recent versions of Mac OS X, is down heartening to say the least. Probably, Vista wouldnâ€™t even run properly on the thing.
There are signs that Microsoft is still thinking about PC design. At www.startsomethingpc.com creative people are invited to submit designs that reinvent the PC, to reflect how people actually use their computers and are encouraged to think about issues such as entertainment, mobility, and lifestyle. The prizes are quite significant, with $25,000 dollars the top award.
So what should I do while I wait for these whizzes to come up with something really cool? Give my parents an X-Box with Linux on it? No, I donâ€™t think that would really work for them. The Athens PC remains a prototype and there isnâ€™t anything from Dell or HP or anyone else that really hits the spot in the way that a certain other computer does. Looks like that iMac is going to keep its place on top of that Most Wanted shopping list.