Microsoft Needs to Sell Hardware

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:42 AM :: 3723 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, User Experience :: Digg it!

I was brought up on the Mac. I switched over to Windows a long time ago because of the power of the platform. For the most part, I haven't looked back. There is one thing that always seems to catch the corner of my eye, tho: user experience. Well, I've seen some pretty bad user experiences coming from Apple, so let me classify a bit more by saying user interface design. Apple does a good job of making things look great and feel pretty good. Microsoft has incrementally tried to fix this, but there's one major stop-gap: hardware. As long as Microsoft depends on 3rd party vendors to develop the hardware Windows lives on, Microsoft will be plagued with poor implementations. For this reason, I really want to see Microsoft start selling hardware; specifically, laptops. I honestly think the desktop market is somewhat stable. Sure, there can probably be some improvements, but with the increasing need for mobility, I'm more interested in laptops. Either way, the need is the same: a new infusion of fresh blood in the hardware industry. I don't want another Dell or HP, tho. I'm looking for one line of laptops tweaked for power users. I want it setup and configured for success. Forget the crap software vendors put on there -- you gotta love that Apple ad, Bloated. For once in my life, I'd like to get something I don't feel the need to format right off the bat. The key to this is very solid hardware. I want it pretty, I want it functional, and I want some out-of-the-box thinking in its design. I've been screaming for this in the back of my mind for over a year, now. There's only one problem... Microsoft.

Microsoft is not a hardware company. Look at the Xbox. Sure, the damn thing sells like candy, but how much of a loss has Microsoft taken because of faulty hardware? Yeah, that's right, a billion. Sure, it's pocket change, but that's money that could be used to innovate on a better platform. If I remember correctly, the Xbox itself (not the games) was a loss for the first few years and only recently saw its first profits -- gee, those didn't last long, did they? I honestly don't follow that market, but it just goes to show how bad Microsoft is at major hardware initiatives. Zune hasn't really proven itself, but there are other factors there. Besides, Zune is built by Toshiba... perhaps one of the worst hardware companies around, which doesn't make me feel any better. Where I'm going with all this, tho, is I don't want Microsoft proper to build this laptop line. I want a subsidiary who's dynamic and flexible. Someone with the resources of big daddy to ensure success, but with the ability to innovate and go to market with more agility -- something the hardware industry sucks at. Of course, maybe this isn't right, but I'd like to see it implemented before arguing one way or another. Take some notes from Apple and Lenovo and pull together a strong team who can build solid computers. Point them to the Windows, Office, Windows Live, and Research groups and let them show the world how Microsoft software was meant to be experienced.

...oh, and for God sakes, give me a good laptop keyboard! :-P