Editorial

The PC industry still doesn't get it

When Vista launched, Microsoft expected a wave of change to launch with it. The new, fresher look and feel that Windows Vista brought with it (teething problems aside) should have inspired PC manufacturers to take another look at their designs and come out with something amazing.

However, that never happened. Perhaps Microsoft already knew it wasn’t going to happen, which could have been why they had a team at work on an ‘Industrial Design Toolkit’ which should have provided the OEMs with everything they needed to make great Windows PCs. Even that wasn’t enough though.


Microsoft had high-hopes for the look and feel of Windows Vista PCs.

The focus was specifications and price over quality and design, and those that wanted that latter had few places to turn. ASUS and Sony were producing some nice looking PCs (although that's subjective), but they still looked and felt like PCs. The PC industry pushed value out as a mix of high number-values in specifications, and low price tags, which never really indicated quality. In fact many people had horrendous Windows Vista experiences due to woefully under-powered PCs being classed as “Vista Ready”… or was that “Capable”? Through all of this time, Apple was on the side, making the machines that consumers secretly dreamt about and they sold that story through a series of clever and unrebutted (well, hardly) TV advertisements.

The media noticed this trend towards low-quality devices, and that Apple was determined to stay out of that race (to the bottom). APC Mag made a lot of good points (and some bad ones) in a 2008 "15 reasons Macs are still better than Windows" article, and Apple topped Forrester's PC satisfaction rating for that same year. Apple sales increased, as PCs continued to look as confusing to consumers, with specifications and price being pushed over functionality.

By the time Windows 7 launched, not a lot had changed. HP had just began to invest in their Envy line, which were nice looking machines, but appeared to be closer to clones of Apple products than original competitors – and the rest of the industry hadn’t made much progress either. The value war continued to rage on, and consumers were becoming increasingly frustrated in their search for PCs that would allow them to visit Facebook, YouTube, eBay, and to check their emails. Yet Microsoft had learnt from previous experiences, and this time it pushed PC manufacturers are a lot harder to get everything in line – from drivers to marketing. Microsoft seemed to be winning the battle, and Windows 7 itself was winning praise from everyone.

Yet Apple wasn’t playing around. After years of watching Microsoft toy with tablets, Apple launched its iPad. The iPad took (and is still taking) the world by storm. Microsoft and its partners knew that even the acclaimed Windows 7 just wasn’t up to the task of successfully powering a consumer-oriented tablet – so they turned to Metro for the answer, and the result was Windows 8. Of course, this wasn't Microsoft's first attempt at creating a Microsoft tablet. Windows XP had a tablet edition, and of course there was the Ultra-mobile PC and the fabled Courier device. Windows 8 was a product of lessons learnt from those projects, and took more than a few design cues from Windows Phone 7.

With the exception of Microsoft’s Surface RT and Pro devices, Windows 8 was launched with a similar crop of same-old PCs from the big OEMs. Sure, Samsung has picked up their game a lot in design, and a few of the other OEMs have made some interesting products – but the shelves of every electronic retailer are still full of uninspired designs, confusing specifications, and special offers. Even with the ability to launch all new touch-first devices, the OEMs have failed to deliver. Some metres to away, the Apple bench, with its polished wood surface and glowing logo still looks as good as ever.

The OEMs need to learn that whether it’s with Windows, Android, Linux, or some other future platform, the only way to win people’s hearts and minds is through good design and execution of products and marketing. Simply packing the most numbers possible into a generic plastic case, and pricing it as low as you can is not a solid marketing strategy. Apple changed the game, and average consumers no longer care, and don’t want to learn what terms like quad-core, GPU, multi-touch, IPS, OLED, etc. mean.


ASUS: Why use your old 9-point touch screen when you could have 10 points?

Sadly, whilst it appears that Microsoft is leading the charge with Surface – and a few of its partners are following suit, many more have a long way to go. A poll by PC advisor earlier this year still shows that Apple products are considered to be the most reliable of all computers, and Amazon’s top-rated notebooks list tells the same story, and the same story can be found in CNET’s top-rated list. Take a look at the specifications on these machines, and you'll see why. Apple isn't just charging for a pretty case, they're also spending a lot more time thinking about the insides of those computers.

Of course, there is one other way that Microsoft could go. They’re now in possession of the skills and facilities to design, manufacture, and distribute tablets. So, would moving into computers (or smartphones) really be that much of a stretch? Although it might be fair to say that Microsoft has never really put enough effort into persuading it’s OEMs to make better products (excluding phones), time is running out and it may be the right moment for Microsoft to give up on its OEM-centric mindset and make that move.

If Microsoft takes the time to build a solid family of devices, including a phone, notebook, and at least an all-in-one PC, they have a good chance at saving face and showing that a Windows PC doesn’t have to mean lacklustre and uninspired design. Despite the occasional issue (and ignoring the red ring of death fiasco), many people seem to like Microsoft’s designs. Of course, hardware is only a part of the story, and Microsoft’s clearly still working on the software part of the puzzle - but if they play their cards right, it could be VaporMG-clad Microsoft PCs sitting on the trendy desks of the future.

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Well, if we were all like that, we would still live in caves.... ;-)

Sometimes you need the metaphorical punch in the face to get to the next step. Yes, it can be maddening to a lot of people, but at some point you look back and wonder why this didn't happen earlier. History is full of great examples :-)

True - however, it's still not fun for the person GETTING the punch in the face.
In every genre *except* filmed entertainment (movies), whenever a series gets *rebooted*, there has been a crapton of pushback, and it's gotten even more vociferous as of late. (Gaming - practically any game reboot over the past two years. Applications - where do I start? Practically the only application that HASN'T gotten any pushback due to changes is TurboTax - and that is because the user community has finally wised up that it's not Intuit's fault that tax law changes every year. And don't even get me STARTED on OS/distribution-related year-over-year changes - compared to what some Linux distributions have done, Windows 8 kiboshing the Start menu is chickenfeed.) "Who moved my cheese?" Please - it's become "Who's on my turf?"

Companies need to learn to stop changing things people are accustomed to.

Innovation is fine so long as you don't punch people in the face when you do it, which is what happened to people like me.

I'm still using Vista; I can't get off it because of these reasons.

Honestly, after looking at Mac's, it's hard to defend PCs. Sure, you can build your own and make it awesome, but how many people do that? Most don't, and even some of the so-called techies will go for a top of the line GPU and call it a day. And with laptops you don't even have the option.
Two months ago, I had a Samsung 9 Ultrabook in my hands and I thought "this is how Windows laptops should be!". Couple of problems, however. First that not all come with the nice screen that the model which I tried did. Like someone else said, when will builders start using good screens? Not just resolution-wise, but at least that would be nice. And I really hope Windows Blue helps this by actually scaling better to high DPI displays. Second problem is that it's quite expensive. Haven't checked prices recently but probably not far off of a MacBook Air, and with reason since they're quite similar actually, specs-wise.

I also don't understand why MS didn't go the Apple route and make one OS for phones and tablets and one for Desktops and Laptops. It would be sooo much easier and fix pretty much all the complaints.

Because Microsoft tried that (XP Tablet PC Edition) and it failed horribly. If anything, the problem with Windows 8 is due to the touch-centric focus of the ADVERTISING. Look at the majority of Windows 8 ads - print, media, Web, what-have-you. What's the focus? Touch, touch, touch. In a way, I can't blame those thinking that Windows 8 is touch-centric - that's the message the ads are, in fact, spinning. (Notice that I said "Windows 8"' - not WindowsRT.) What about the improvements in Windows 8 (compared to Windows 7) that have nothing to do with touch? Where are THOSE ads?

PGHammer said,
Because Microsoft tried that (XP Tablet PC Edition) and it failed horribly.

XP Tablet PC Edition was NOT a dedicated tablet OS... It was simply an extended XP SKU... I bet epk was talking about Apple's OSX/iOS split...

epk said,
Honestly, after looking at Mac's, it's hard to defend PCs. Sure, you can build your own and make it awesome, but how many people do that?

Quite a lot of people. I'd imagine if you made a poll on the forums and asked you'd get a lot of people saying they spec and build their own machines.

You have 3 choices:
1) Build your own and get maximum value and power for your spend
2) Get ripped off for an overpriced but nice looking Mac
3) Spend buttons and get some chinese mass manufactured box full of junk with a quality OS on top.

And a dedicated tablet OS is *itself* a niche product - what you are basically saying is that the walled garden (which is the mobile provider scheme) should be carried forward. Except that iOS/OS X aren't as walled off from each other as you think - there ARE some applications and even games that can run on either; I personally have done so (run an iOS game on OS X Lion and ML), so it's not like it can't be done. Google HAS no desktop OS - therefore, it also doesn't have the legacy-code *baggage* that Microsoft has to deal with. The problems with Windows 8 are pretty much mostly due to user perception (that of it being touch-centered plus the Start menu going away) - has ANYONE come up with a real-world case of an everyday Windows 7 application that is NOT mooted by a new or improved feature in 8 that doesn't work in Windows 8? (Basically, I'm talking a real-world case of application or utility breakage.) So far, in all the anti-8/anti-ModernUI threads since RTM, I haven't seen so much as ONE such case. That is, in and of itself, a vast improvement over Windows 7 (compared to Vista, or even XP). That also says that Windows 8 losing the Start menu is actually a smaller change from the point of view of applications/utilities/games themselves than the users themselves think - simply due to most of them running sans any changes in how user installs or uses the application outside the Start menu being gone. Applications and utilities THEMSELVES are under increased pressure, thanks to Microsoft improving a lot of the utilities included with the operating system (Disk Optimizer and Task Manager being the two most obvious improvements from Windows 7 from what I have seen so far); however, not having to install as many third-party applications and utilities due to what is part of the OS itself making a lot of them moot is ALSO a good thing - how many problems have been CAUSED - directly or indirectly - by a mix of third-party tools and Windows (any version)? The REAL issue with Windows 8 is getting past the different UI/UX.

Rookies buy pre-built PC's from the one-size-fits-all manufacturers. Rookies deserve lesser quality.

PC Users with a clue ALWAYS build their own machine to a custom, and far superior, spec...generally at similar prices to the generic store boxes. Often when I build my machines I couldn't care less how attractive the case is - I'm more interested in the space, internal design and thermal/air flow properties.

Fact is Microsoft have designed the best Windows 8 tablet by far. The physical look is fantastic compared to the very cheap plastic Samsung 700T and is much nicer to hold than the Acer W700 (which doesn't have an attachable keyboard or built in kickstand). The HP Envy X2 comes close to rivaling it physically but it's really overpriced in the UK considering it's basically just a repackaged £150 netbook. It will probably be around £200 cheaper than the Samsung 700T however the Acer W700 is roughly £200 cheaper the the Surface pro and includes a bluetooth keyboard. So realistically for the average consumer the Acer W700 is the only one that comes close to the Surface Pro but has a big flaw of now having at attachable keyboard or a built in kickstand. The only thing stopping me from getting a new Windows 8 PC is the fact that the Surface Pro isn't on sale here yet.

I want a Surface laptop. 15", 1920x1080, VaporMg, 8GBs (at least) of RAM, i7, 256GB SSD, etc. The PC industry needs a laptop that is not just a MacBook ripoff. I'm going to be the first in line if MS starts selling it.

Here is the issue, Windows Vista was released in a time when PCs had less a Gb of ram. Windows 7 was released to fix the vista issues and when PCs had adequate ram and graphics cars. Windows 8 is like Vista where it was release and a majority of PCs are just PCs!

Windows 8 will fail the same way like Vista. They need to fix this thing quickly or no one will make hardware.

Here in the corporate world: We don't care about design.
Sure there are some storefront businesses and front desks that could benefit from a sleek appearance but in the back halls of engineering and accounting it's all about getting the job done. Fancy cases just get mismatched as 20% or so of the machines are cycled out each year and the typically present issues when updating components like memory of additional monitors or just finding a replacement power supply that fits.
There are armies of such machines lurking in the workforce grinding their gears. As a sysadmin I could care less about the design of the box. Just give me the most power for the buck and make it easy to work with.

I work in a corporate office, I've worked in many. I completely understand, and I wasn't suggesting that ever office admin officer needs a pretty PC. But it certainly looks great when customer, client, and partner-facing staff have them.

I don't think good design, upgradability and performance have to be mutually exclusive. Take the iMac for example. While I don't agree with their latest designs (eliminating optical drive for thinner enclosure), they are quite powerful and aesthetic machines. Likewise the Mac Pro case is still better than what most PC manufacturers make.

All-in-ones are going to be more and more popular for offices all around. The iMac is of course the yard stick right now, but we will probably see more tiny boxes ala Mac Mini from PC manufacturers too. Those are generally fast enough to handle office work for millions of people.

At home I use a Fractal Design case for my desktop PC. It's at least inoffensive if not a thing of beaty. Alas, most PC desktop manufacturers still seem to be catering to the folks who think having glaring blue LEDs and a gazillion fans in a case is classy.

[quote=LaXu said,]Likewise the Mac Pro case is still better than what most PC manufacturers make.[/quote]
In the PC market I'd agree, in the Workstation market the Mac Pro has a nice case, but it's definitely not THE ultimate design...

[quote=LaXu said,
At home I use a Fractal Design case for my desktop PC. It's at least inoffensive if not a thing of beaty.[/quote]
Their last designs (Arc, Core,...) unfortunately do away with their classic design...
The Define (without! a window) and the Array (unfortunately discontinued) are their best designs IMHO...

Most consumer PC laptops looked ugly during Vista's reign - except Apple's. I personally disliked Asus designs the most. I'm still not a fan of many current designs, however, there have been many improvements (thanks to a following of Apple's design trends).

Some suggestions (from myself) to the PC industry in regards to laptops:
- no 15" laptop should have a screen resolution lower than 1440 x 900 (the majority still do!)
- no laptop should be thicker than one inch (25.4mm)
- screens should all have a good viewing angle, and be of high quality - like Apple's. It's worth the extra cost from my opinion
- top case temperature should never exceed 30 degrees Celsius and fans/hard disk should be silent under normal use
- forget about "piano finishes" (fingerprint/scratch magnets)

68k said,
Most consumer PC laptops looked ugly during Vista's reign - except Apple's. I personally disliked Asus designs the most. I'm still not a fan of many current designs, however, there have been many improvements (thanks to a following of Apple's design trends).

Some suggestions (from myself) to the PC industry in regards to laptops:
- no 15" laptop should have a screen resolution lower than 1440 x 900 (the majority still do!)
- no laptop should be thicker than one inch (25.4mm)
- screens should all have a good viewing angle, and be of high quality - like Apple's. It's worth the extra cost from my opinion
- top case temperature should never exceed 30 degrees Celsius and fans/hard disk should be silent under normal use
- forget about "piano finishes" (fingerprint/scratch magnets)


I remember HP in those days had some nice looking laptops.
Can't remember the models, but the specs where more then good and the design was lovely.

I get the wanting to be more like Apple in design. But I really think for Windows users, it's honestly about work. Work over form. Yes, I want a decent looking machine/tower, but it sits under my desk. Who cares what it looks like. I want the O/S to perform. And Windows 7 does that. And yes, OK, we get it for the 10,000th time about Vista out of the gate having issues. SP1 fixed that. Gesh, I can in 2013 make a comment about the first generation of OS X still. Now days I would focus on laptops to have good design, those are to most a fashion statement. But for a tower/desktop, who cares really. It goes under the desk and yes for Windows 7: "It just works".

Really you want to compare the bottom of the barrel $400 laptops to a Mac or an equal Dell/Lenovo? You're the one who doesn't get it. If you're buying a $400 laptop from Walmart, you could care less about form, function and you have no clue about brand loyalty. Gesh.

Delmont said,
Really you want to compare the bottom of the barrel $400 laptops to a Mac or an equal Dell/Lenovo? You're the one who doesn't get it. If you're buying a $400 laptop from Walmart, you could care less about form, function and you have no clue about brand loyalty. Gesh.

No, I really don't expect a budget computer to be like a Mac, but I would like a more expensive option that is.

Brody McKee said,

No, I really don't expect a budget computer to be like a Mac, but I would like a more expensive option that is.

If you like the current Apple look (that has been to some degree "borrowed" from Sony): have a look at the ASUS Zenbook line... (There are also some other nice looking Ultrabook designs...) [Last MacBook design I really liked was the "BlackBook"... - and that was mainly due to it's color...]

If you like something more durable (without going to rugged PCs) with a classic look: nothing ever beats a Thinkpad when durability and classic design are first class requirements.

There are nice looking (beauty after all is up to the beholder) options, the average consumer simply doesn't want to pay for them... I stopped counting how often I recommended nicely spec'ed and designed PCs to friends and they decided to buy a cheap device instead...

Really? You'd like a more expensive option? So have you even looked on Dell.com ? Lenovo.com? hp.com ? asus.com? Again, really???

As an Industrial Designer, I fully agree with this article. PC manufacturers, just don't get it. Most have industrial designers on their teams, but that is not the priority. Everybody gets on Apple for coming up with ways for the user to shell out new money for a Macbook Pro or iPhone when they are released. Do you see this same type of Brand loyalty with Dell and their $300 laptops. The principles are still the same, Dell and the other OEMS a churning out crap cheap plastic laptops that break after a year forcing you to buy a new one. Plastic is a beautiful material when used right. I do agree though, when the notion of good pc design comes up the OEMs tend to try to mimic Apple, which isn't the idea at all. Good design doesn't have to be Apple, it can be unique and reliable, but is not going to be a a cheap $300 laptop.

A whole article that miss the fact that user expect to have a ** touch screen** when using windows 8. Same as Vista, were it was expected to have more ** ram **.
It's not rocket science. I think average user would care more of reliability first, design second.

And why is it that users *expect* a touch-screen interface? Because that is what the ads have shown Windows 8 on, that's why. Never mind that Windows 8 runs just fine on non-touch-screen hardware (and even older Windows 7-era, if not Vista-era in some cases, hardware) - Windows 8 in advertising was very very VERY touch-centric. And what is Windows 8 running on in retailers (outside of Microsoft Stores, that is)? If you can get your hands (let alone mice) on it, it is (typically) more touch-screen displays. That's why I get the connection between the Windows 8 angst and those that think that Windows 8 is touch-centered - that's the message spit out by the advertising. Never mind that it's FAR from being all that Windows 8 is about - if it were, I wouldn't be using it day in and day out (I wouldn't be running it's fraternal-twin brother on the server side, Windows Server 2012 Standard, either - it supports ALL the hardware that Windows 8 does). However, that first impression of Windows 8 is a powerful one - too powerful in hindsight; the lookers focussed on the touch support to the exclusion of all else. I've been posting until my fingers have started to numb about the features of Windows 8 that have diddly to do with touch, and how Windows 8 has NOT neglected non-touch users (and especially keyboard and mouse users); however, the focus in the angst-ridden remains on touch-supporting ModernUI (never mind that ModernUI works a treat for mouse users as well) - it's as though Windows 8 = WindowsRT.

Always cracks me up concerning quality. People complain about "cheap" plastic while other products are made out of aluminum and other metals. I have had both the "cheap" plastic and the metal PCs/phones. The "cheap" plastic takes more of a beating than the metal ever did. So yea, the quality may look better in devices using aluminum/metal..but plastic holds up way better.

As for as the cheap hardware, this is just the OEMs fooling the uninformed consumer. The regular consumer doesnt know what they are getting. They see a good deal (the think) and take the sales persons word for it. Same with buying a car, if you dont know what you are getting, maybe you should do some research first or just not buy anything.

I should have clarified that to me, design is a lot more than material - although a nice feeling material does make me feel better about a purchase.

Brody McKee said,
I should have clarified that to me, design is a lot more than material - although a nice feeling material does make me feel better about a purchase.

I mainly look at what the device can do for me and then look at design later. How a product looks and what it is made out of comes 2nd to me in most cases. However, if I see some off the wall design that takes away the use of a product/features...id skip that device.

If Tims reviews of the Samsung Galaxy line of phones is anything to go by, then quality IS important, because a fantastic device wrapped in crappy cheap plastic automatically devalues the premium feel that it SHOULD have and deserves (looking at all the specs vs competition).

techbeck said,
Always cracks me up concerning quality. People complain about "cheap" plastic while other products are made out of aluminum and other metals. I have had both the "cheap" plastic and the metal PCs/phones. The "cheap" plastic takes more of a beating than the metal ever did. So yea, the quality may look better in devices using aluminum/metal..but plastic holds up way better.

As for as the cheap hardware, this is just the OEMs fooling the uninformed consumer. The regular consumer doesnt know what they are getting. They see a good deal (the think) and take the sales persons word for it. Same with buying a car, if you dont know what you are getting, maybe you should do some research first or just not buy anything.


If I can push the back cover of a S3 and dent it then I am not buying it

Neobond said,
If Tims reviews of the Samsung Galaxy line of phones is anything to go by, then quality IS important, because a fantastic device wrapped in crappy cheap plastic automatically devalues the premium feel that it SHOULD have and deserves (looking at all the specs vs competition).

Samsung has been making a killing...so I dont think they are worried to much. I do agree they should include some different kind of material in their phones, but only if it holds up and is as durable as the phones are now. I take really good care of my things, but I am human.

techbeck said,

I mainly look at what the device can do for me and then look at design later. How a product looks and what it is made out of comes 2nd to me in most cases. However, if I see some off the wall design that takes away the use of a product/features...id skip that device.

Whilst I 110% respect that, you're not an ordinary consumer in that case

I remember a colleague of mine once said "Why doesn't someone make a line of pink printers? They'd make a killing!" Of course that was said in jest, but the point was correct - design is important for most consumers.

Brody McKee said,
Whilst I 110% respect that, you're not an ordinary consumer in that case

I remember a colleague of mine once said "Why doesn't someone make a line of pink printers? They'd make a killing!" Of course that was said in jest, but the point was correct - design is important for most consumers.

Pink would be a disaster. Why I said that in most cases, design comes 2nd to me.

if my galaxy had been aluminium and shiney i wouldnt have bought it, i went for the feel which i like its light compared to the ipony, its more durable it wont scratch or dent its flexible, not everyone thinks plastic is cheap, **** they make areoplanes out of the same material

DKAngel said,
if my galaxy had been aluminium and shiney i wouldnt have bought it, i went for the feel which i like its light compared to the ipony, its more durable it wont scratch or dent its flexible, not everyone thinks plastic is cheap, **** they make areoplanes out of the same material

Isn't the iPhone still light? I recently held a Lumia 920 and it seems to be the heaviest smartphone ever to be built from plastic...

Plastic, metal, composite, wood, I don't care. Does it feel good and does it last a decent amount of time. That is what I like. Most mobile things go in sleeves or covers anyway.

Bine spus, desi cred ca 600$/per month e totusi prea mult, tinand cont de salariul minim, majoritatea castia aproximativ 1000 lei, care e cam 290$.

Trust me the pc industry got it, it got the fact that not everybody is willing to throw a huge amount of $ on a shiny vapormg-aluminium-titanium-polycarbonate case with the same hardware you find in an ordinary 300$ ish laptop.

Brody McKee, you are the one that doesn't "get" it.

The problem is that the market basically wants cheap, good/reliable hardware. When you get for the "premium" look&feel you also have to sky-rocket the prices.
Not every company can be Apple-esque because not everyone affords to rip off the consumer like Apple does.

Apple is still a niche (premium) company and you can't expect that suddenly all PC makers would be as "creative" as Apple. There is a price that comes with that.

The large majority of Windows/Microsoft users is using cheap, ordinary hardware.

Not everybody's gonna buy a Surface and that's not because people hate MS, but because it is an expensive, disposable hardware.

Hell, not everybody lives in US... many countries are still in deep economic ****.
Here, in Romania, the average wage is 600$ a month (or $3.52 per work hour).
With the sallary you get in a month you barely afford buying one ****ing tablet.

So please, don't come with this **** that hardware manufacturers still don't get it. They know perfectly their user profiles. And they know very well that most Windows folks won't suddenly start to spend thousands of dollars for new, shiny hardware, just because Microsoft wants them so.

Hello Mortis,

I don't think that premium look and feel do mean sky-rocketed prices. Sure. it adds a bit on to the price - but there are MANY people out there that are willing to pay.

I'm not from the US, I'm from Australia. And yes, our economy is doing well for now. Even so, not everyone is rich, and I've seen many a poor person with an Apple device when they're struggling to pay rent. Their favourite celebrities use it, all of their cool friends have one, so they want one. It's human nature.

I think you've completely missed the point, and I'll take responsibility for that. My point isn't that all PC hardware should all be expensive and shiny, instead my point is that practically none of it is. Those that want high-quality products have only Apple to buy from. Everyone else is selling hardware that's just uninspiring - the kind of stuff that corporations and schools want, but individuals (those that can afford the extra spend) don't want.

But I do value your input, and I agree wholeheartedly that there must be affordable hardware for markets like yours. My girlfriend is Ukrainian (she lives there, and so do her family) and I know it's a tough world for those with small economies.

Thanks,
Brody

Sure just like Samsung win8 tablets, **** material same spec as the others but wants £200 more in addition to what other manufacturers are asking for. Then blame win8 for not reaching sales targets. I totally agree that not everyone can afford premium right now. Besides the US, Germany, France and the UK, no other country can afford them without a repayment plan so it makes you think about priorities in life really. And the market has gone downhill here in the UK as nobody wants to spent.

@ riva There are a lot european countries richer that france and uk and some even richer than germany. Almost thought you ere american by the way you write about western europe

Brody McKee said,

I've seen many a poor person with an Apple device when they're struggling to pay rent. Their favourite celebrities use it, all of their cool friends have one, so they want one. It's human nature.

This wasn't the case until Apple turned mass-market computing devices into aspirational toys. The "race to the bottom" is the very reason components are now cheap enough for Apple to slap $200 worth of commodity parts into an aluminum shell and gross over $200 in profit. Instead of embracing this trend and asking why other OEMs "still don't get it", we should be asking why we want to continue down this path. We're still facing global economic problems, and the last thing we should be doing is encouraging the continued flow of money to a privileged group of companies that are already making too much as it is.

It's pathetic to see people sitting at Starbucks with their shiny Macbooks, sipping $5 drinks, and going home to eat ramen for dinner. When people throw money at companies like Apple, that money essentially goes into a black hole. Apple hoards money like there's no tomorrow. On the other hand, if people didn't feel the need to mimic their favorite celebrities, they could be spending more on decent groceries, going out to eat more often, going to see more movies, etc. This is how you make the economy go: by throwing money at companies that don't have 40% margins and actually recirculate more of the money that they take in.

That last thing we should be encouraging is for more companies to be like Apple. F*ck that noise.

I do not think that is pathetic. That is a lifestyle choice. If there is a market for it, any company will go for it. That is what a company does... make money. OEMs chose to play the race to the bottom to get the average consumer. When they should of been hedging bets and going for the top too like apple. Samsung is doing this. It has taken them a few years to figure it out. Now they have products considered higher end and have yearly updates. Good for them and good for the consumer.

The modding community really factored into the whole PC as a fashion accessory for years. It was them that prompted the big OEMs to start offering silver and black desktops, rather than beige, before investing more time in the design; it was Apple and their fashionable systems that prompted that one!
The best looking device(s) I've seen recently though are all MS based - Surface, Nokia Lumia 800/920 and the HTC 8X are all stunning to look at and the trend that all devices will have to follow to move on. Oh, but I can't forget the HTC One - Jebus it's gorgeous

Looks aren't everything. Take the MS Touch Mouse. It sits collecting dust. Best looking mouse ever, works like crap, too heavy as well.

Microsoft is first and foremost a software company and they need to focus on getting Windows 8 and the core apps right. They need to focus on focusing and optimizing RT.

It doesn't matter how nice the suit if it's wrapped around a pig. Of course, Windows 8 isn't that bad I'm just making a point. If iMacs were upgradeable I'd put Windows 8 on the current iMac in a heartbeat. But I sold my beautiful iMac because OS X was inferior to Windows for what I do.

Get the software right first.

Using this mouse right now. I always use it. Works great. Any lighter and it would be too light. Still lighter than most. Love the gestures too. 3 fingers up!

MorganX said,
Looks aren't everything. Take the MS Touch Mouse. It sits collecting dust. Best looking mouse ever, works like crap, too heavy as well.

Mine is working quite well, what's the problem with yours?

It "functions," too many misses. Too many improper clicks. There's a reason it's basically in the bargain bin now. Trust me, good idea but needs a whole lot of refinement.

I have absolutely no problem with mine... (apart maybe from the battery life - sucks two AA every week...)

This is why Microsoft needs to be "full steam ahead" with their Surface tablets. They should be doing more advertising, and open up the devices to more people (aka drop the price).

Once Windows 8.1 is released, go on an advertising blitz, like they did before with the urban graffiti.

Brody McKee said,
Dropping the price, and doing an Xbox-style loss-leader could help a lot.

And here's the problem with your whole argument. You decry the race to the bottom without acknowledging that consumers want cheap hardware. The logical conclusion of your article is that prices should be higher but when someone mentions Surface you say it should be cheaper. You won't get high quality and low prices.

Dot Matrix said,
This is why Microsoft needs to be "full steam ahead" with their Surface tablets. They should be doing more advertising, and open up the devices to more people (aka drop the price).

Yes, it's ridiculous. I have my issues with Win8 on desktops but I really want a Surface Pro. Cash buyer, ready and waiting.

But ... I've been waiting two months now and MS still isn't selling them in Europe, or letting me preorder, or even saying when they may be available. Pathetic.

jakem1 said,

And here's the problem with your whole argument. You decry the race to the bottom without acknowledging that consumers want cheap hardware. The logical conclusion of your article is that prices should be higher but when someone mentions Surface you say it should be cheaper. You won't get high quality and low prices.


I should clarify that I think Surface RT was overpriced for a device with that level of performance. I was expecting a Microsoft iPad competitor, but it really isn't - yet.

Who cares if almost every touchpad works like crap, if the laptop has awful cooling that will cause it to start overheating as soon as the thermal paste starts drying, if the insane amount of proprietary drivers make OS upgrades impossible just a couple of years later or if the hard drive is some 4200RPM POS worth of the 90s: it's only the processors gigahurtzs, the rams and the aluminum finish that matters!!!!1! Manufacturers know best!!

Macbook Pros come with 5400RPM drives. I don't think many or any new laptops come with anything slower than that. I agree that most OEMs can't get it right though.

Apple has great design and hardware; just drop those 5400RPM drives, please!

norseman said,
Macbook Pros come with 5400RPM drives. I don't think many or any new laptops come with anything slower than that. I agree that most OEMs can't get it right though.

Apple has great design and hardware; just drop those 5400RPM drives, please!

It helps them push SSDs, much like they once pushed SCSI.

What Microsoft should do is have a standardised set of icons showing what their OEMs devices can do. For example, icons for 5 point touch, 10 point touch, Mic and Webcam, full HD videos, Blu-Ray, and so on, basically the key features the public look for in a PC.

I don't know about that. Your average person barely understands the laundry instructions on their underwear, if they even realize that's what they are. Icons don't do as well as buzz words.

average consumers no longer care, and don't want to learn what terms like quad-core, GPU, multi-touch, IPS, OLED, etc. mean.

And this is part of the reason why I consider myself (and others consider me) to be a "computer guy." I still find that stuff interesting, even if the average consumer doesn't.

I agree. and wasn't iPhone first to make all the buzz about multi-touch? and why consumers suddenly don't care about specs terms, but should care about all the retina-esque marketing crap?

Microsoft had high-hopes for the look and feel of Windows Vista PCs.

I remember how ironic it was that Apple released a computer which resembled nearly everything what Microsoft envisioned for Windows Vista, only a year before its release. For all intends en purposes the iMac G5 (rev. C) was what Microsoft wanted consumer PCs to be.

I'm sure some guys at Microsoft loaded a Windows Longhorn copy onto a first generation iMac with Intel processor and thought about what could have been.

A Surface smartphone designed and marketed by Microsoft would be great; however, it's highly unlikely considering how much Microsoft has invested in Nokia. It seems almost counterproductive to make a phone that competes with phones from a company that Microsoft is betting a lot on. It might even undermine their brand if people see it as Microsoft's answer to the iPhone.

As for tablets and PCs, I think Microsoft will stick to making tablets for now. There are way too many OEMs out there that want to do things their own way. Microsoft can do a better job at setting minimum/maximum specifications for Windows 8 but I think that's the most they can do. They'd need to have the same relationship they have with Nokia (which is so good that they influence the design of their smartphones).

Agreed. It would be a dangerous move, and the risks would need to be calculated - but this is the company that just pushed Metro (Modern) onto the masses, and many people thought/think that was/is crazy.

Nokia stated Microsoft has input into the design of their windows phones. Why would Microsoft make their own phone when they have input into how nokia designs theirs?