Today in the Seattle Times, an article on Vista PC design, highlighting that "Microsoft has offered computer manufacturers guidelines on color, shape and other design elements for PCs that will run Windows Vista."

(Also of interest is the graphic the paper includes on the evolution of personal-computer design, much too large to include here.)

The Vista design kit suggests "accelerated curves" and high-contrast colors, including "obsidian" black and "ice" white, according to the BusinessWeek article.

"We want people to fall in love with their PCs, not to simply use them to be productive and successful," BusinessWeek reported on the kit. "We want PCs to be objects of pure desire."

Do I want a big box under my desk? Not likely. Do I want form and function in a new machine? Absolutely. Competition also drives the need to innovate, both on features and design. But designs should inspire: this was the premise we shared at WinHEC a few years ago when we showed off the Athens concept desktop PC for business communications. (right)

Funny how News.com reported (at WinHEC 2004) that "the Media Center PC of the future has a remote control with a built-in LCD screen for programming recordings." I have seen very few of these on the market, save the all-in-one Media Center products from Gateway (no longer produced) and Sony's VA series. I do like the all-in-one approach for streamlined home office designs and kitchens, and I do like the simplicity of the new Apple iMacs.

Will new Vista help jumpstart a new design trend? I hope so. You hear a lot of people talking about the influence that companies like Apple has on PC designs, and how a firm foundation in consumer electronics helps companies like Sony capture people's attention over the plain black box (the old beige). So "obsidian" and "ice" I get... probably not anything in eggplant or Bondi Blue. ;)

From what I have seen so far, Vista sets a high bar. Given that sales of notebooks have surpassed desktop sales in U.S. retail, I would not be surprised if desktop sales stabilize or slightly slow the decline vs. laptops, as the price/performance benefit is greater in a desktop machine (not to mention easier upgrades).

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