Should Microsoft be thinking about making their own PCs?

This is an idea that is sure to get all kinds of Apple fans rolling on the floor laughing their asses of while struggling to get words like copycat and loser out through their guffaws. Not too mention that the anti-Microsoft crew in general will be hauling out their smartass dictionary out to fill out posts about how this is a dumb idea and will never work.

The thing is it could work and it could be the best thing to happen to both Microsoft and the PC market. I first heard the idea broached on a recent Cranky Geeks show with John Dvorak where he brought up the idea along with some sound reasons as to why Microsoft should seriously consider the idea, as well as writing a post about it. At the same Mike Elgan at the IT Management blog had a post where he outlined sever reasons as t o why he liked the idea as well.

His seven points are

  • The Windows and Office ain't what it use to be
  • Microsoft is a great hardware maker
  • Microsoft needs to manage the transition to multi-touch PCs
  • Microsoft needs to be a bully again
  • Microsoft needs to lead the market again
  • Making PCs will make Windows better
  • Selling PCs will help maintain Windows and Office profits
One of the things that has Apple regain its forward momentum the way it has is precisely for some of the same reasons the Mike Elgan gives above. This is nowhere more apparent that in the way that Mac OS X is a great operating system. It is exactly because Apple owns and controls the whole hardware software process that OS X in most peoples eyes a better operating system that Windows.

The other advantage that this gives Apple is that they can dictate what the hardware if going to be and then the software is written to play to the strength of that hardware. In Microsoft's case it has always been a matter of having to be compatible with every kind of hardware produced by hardware manufacture.

This causes innumerable problems for the company as it is very rarely that when things go wrong that the hardware manufacture is blamed. When ever you see anyone going off on a rant about the problems they are having with their computer it is typical against Microsoft. If suddenly the video isn't working, or some other piece of hardware is screwing up no-one points their finger at the video card manufacturer or hardware manufacture - it is primarily pointed at Microsoft.

A good example of this was with the launch of Vista. Both ATI and nVidia dragged their feet getting updated drivers out and this caused nothing but grief for users, and Microsoft because everyone looked to them to blame. Some manufacturers even said that they weren't going to be delivering Vista drivers for the products.

In a lot of ways it would make sense for Microsoft to take a page out of the Apple play book and I have a feeling that if we did given the company's excellent hardware product line they already have adding computers to it would be a big bonus for users. The interesting thing is that people are talking like this would be something totally new for Microsoft setting their current hardware line of keyboards, webcams, and mice. In fact since just before Vista was launched Microsoft has been looking at the computer hardware end of things.

As part of the lead into the Vista launch Microsoft made available a Vista Industrial Design Toolkit to over 70 PC manufacturers that contained much of their thoughts about the future of computer design and aesthetics. In addition they hired the Carbon Design Group to come up with some mock-ups of PC using the toolkit. I remember catching wind of this for the first time via Long Zheng's blog and then drooling a bit over the actual mock-ups from Carbon.

>Here are a few shots of their desktop computer idea


As well they did a mock up for Windows Home Server 2008


The more that I thought about this especially in light of Elgan and Dvorak's interesting posts on the idea I have to admit I'm warming to the concept. It definitely could throw a whole new light on PCs and Windows.

What do you think? Good idea or bad?