To Build A Better Plastic Box


This writer hasn’t made any sort of “switch.” He works on PCs at home and at the office, but also works on Macs, at the home and at the office. While he feels both have strong points, there’s never been, nor will there ever be, that weird, rabid allegiance to either side. But, if there was one mention of a big weekness in either camp, it would certainly be on the PC end in terms of design, both inside and outside the box. While everything in Windows is wonderful to use (that’s right, he just said “wonderful”), the design is famously clunky and uninspired. And that’s what made this lengthy article in Business Week, “Microsoft, Design Guru,” so interesting, because it’s about the company’s desperate attempts to right all their design wrongs with this new, one-day-to-be-finally-released operating system, Vista, as well as trying to influence the makers of PCs. Clearly bitten by the OS X and iPod bugs, they’re eager to start being a part of products that look nice, feel nice, and stay nice. Here’s some:

So far, microsoft is using a soft sell with PC makers. The Windows Vista Industrial Design Toolkit, hand-delivered to about 70 designers, contains everything a PC maker needs — color palette, suggested materials, even graphics for icons and power buttons—to create computers, laptops, and peripherals that hew to Vista’s look. A separate booklet exhorts hardware makers to eschew drab, utilitarian boxes. Microsoft is providing the toolkit for free and vows not to strong-arm any company into incorporating the concepts.

Update: though it appears as some, like Brian Phipps over at Core77, see this whole thing a little differently.