If you talk to any of the major PC OEMs off the record about Microsoft you'll get the same response: they are frustrated. They are frustrated that the Vista launch went the way it did, they are frustrated with Microsoft's lack of action in addressing major issues that exist today and they are frustrated that the most innovative player in the PC space right now happens to be Apple.

Microsoft's answer to any present day complaints from the major OEMs about Vista is to wait for Windows 7, but by now these manufacturers have heard this before. After all, when the OEMs first started to feel the heat from Apple and OS X, Microsoft said to wait for Vista.

When the major players first started asking me what they should be doing from a design standpoint I kept pointing them to Apple. Apple had the blueprints to successful product design available for purchase; anyone at Dell, HP or Gateway could easily pickup a MacBook and figure out a way to make something at least remotely competitive. The problem that plagues the Dells of the world however is that they don't control the software stack the way Apple does, they are still at Microsoft's mercy.

These PC OEMs could either wait for Microsoft to deliver with Windows 7 and hope that it will be enough to compete with Apple, or begin to try and solve the problem themselves. ASUS is actually a great example of where these OEMs are headed; while the Eee PC and Eee Box are available with Windows XP, Linux is also offered at a lower price point. Going one step further, before you ever boot into Windows on many ASUS motherboards you have the option of launching Splashtop for quicker access to IM, the web or Skype. While these are mostly unpolished attempts at freeing OEMs from being Microsoft dependent, this is just a starting point. I'm not suggesting that PCs in the future will be completely devoid of Microsoft software, there will simply be another option.

HP noticed this same Microsoft dependency issue, just like the rest of the PC OEMs and over the coming years you're going to see companies like HP and Dell become more like Apple, offering systems as complete packages of hardware and software solutions. We'll see broader adoption of Linux and open source software and finally some out of the box thinking.

HP held an event last month in San Francisco to demonstrate a myriad of new products, some of which are clear indications of this new Apple-like focus.

The New Voodoo

Under two years ago HP acquired Voodoo PC, a boutique PC manufacturer that built mostly high end gaming PCs. A few days ago, the existing Voodoo PC site started burning down - signifying a dramatic change in the HP/Voodoo relationship.

It's the new Voodoo

Many were worried that after the acquisition, HP would simply corporatize Voodoo and the brand would be lost forever. If anything, Voodoo has had more of an impact on HP than the opposite. While we still get the impression that Voodoo must fight to continue to operate the way it wants to (which is to be expected in any large corporation), so far the results aren't anything to complain about.

Going forward, the HP/Voodoo relationship is going to work as follows:

Gaming PCs will be built by HP under the brand "HP with Voodoo DNA". The first of these machines was the Blackbird 002 and I'm told that we can expect much more with the Voodoo DNA brand in the coming months and years. One eventual goal being to bring some of the Blackbird experience down to much more reasonable price points.

The Voodoo brand will stop servicing gamers specifically and turn into much more of a lifestyle brand. The focus of Voodoo will be building the sort of out of the box designs that we commonly look to Apple for. The fact that the most innovative PC maker is Apple spells trouble for the Dells and HPs of the world; Voodoo is attempting to change that, at least a little.

The first products out of the new Voodoo are the Envy 133 and the new Omen.

The Most Mac-Like PC Notebook Ever Made: The Envy 133
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  • ElFindo - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Sorry for the double post, however I forgot to mention:

    Even if Microsoft wasn't a true search engine independant from others until 2004 (which doesn't mean I got my facts wrong as I never called it a search engine, I referred to it as MSN Search) it simply doesn't matter as not even Google was the very first search engine. Surpisingly, I'm sure, they copied others.

    Why is Microsoft non innovative then if others everywhere do it too?
  • michael2k - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Because Microsoft fails after copying something else. Live Search is ranked behind Google and Yahoo, XBox 360 is behind the Wii and Xbox is behind the PS2, Zune is behind the iPod.

    In a similar vein, Mac marketshare is clearly below 10%, yet at the same time in the field of industrial design (compared to HP, Dell, Compaq, etc), they are clearly innovating with designs such as the Mac mini, G4 Cube, MacBook Air, etc.

    So when Microsoft is first AND successful, or second and MORE successful, I can give them credit. They obviously deserve credit for DOS, Windows 95, and Windows XP, but their other recent endeavors?

    Live Search, UltimateTV, Zune, XBox, XBox 360, Zune Marketplace, URGE, PlaysForSure, and Zune-2?

    Their only recent successes seem to be XBox Arcade, Surface, and Sync.
  • ElFindo - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    The point is, and why Sony was brought up, is that innovate is to produce something new, and Apple is clearly doing the exact same things you're accusing Microsoft of. Although you seem willing to turn a blind eye to that. People copy because of competition, yet you seem to want to portray Apple as making all these wonderful ideas that everyone is wrongly 'stealing' when its quite clear that, like their peers in the industry, they do the same thing. Basically, stop preaching and look at both sides for just a little longer than what it takes to snub the other side off as inferior.
  • michael2k - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    No, the difference between what Apple is doing and what Microsoft is doing is that Apple is succeeding.

    If Microsoft released the MSTV that was 10x better than the AppleTV due to MS innovations, that would be "cleary doing the exact same thing."

    You must have your own agenda and bias; I've never mentioned stealing, I only used the word innovation and derivation. If I "snub the other side off as inferior" it is because it is more derivative than innovative.
  • ElFindo - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    "If Microsoft released the MSTV that was 10x better than the AppleTV due to MS innovations, that would be "cleary doing the exact same thing."

    This makes little to no sense and has very little to do with my statements to this point. I pointed out Apple has done its fair share of creating competition in areas pioneered by others and its not a Microsoft specific pracice.

    I've not once mentioned a bias towards either of these companies and at times have shown support for both sides. Any percieved bias would simply be towards anti-beligerance. And most of your points have referenced a perceived Apple 'innovative' product followed by a rip off or 'derivative'. Most of my points have shown the precursor to the 'innovative' Apple product mentioned.
  • WeaselITB - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    On the software side, all they have is Windows, IE, Office, MS-SQL, and devtools. Apple at least has OS X, iWork, iLife, Aperture, Final Cut Studio, .Mac/MobileMe, XCode, and Safari.

    Wow ... just, wow. If that's all the software you can think of when you hear "Microsoft" ...

  • pauldovi - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    Both this and the Mac Book Air are toys compared to the Lenovo X300. Why is that not mentioned.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    Because the X300 has a slower CPU and is more expensive?
  • DiRRRtyFlip - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    Benn a lurker for quite a long time but I just had to pipe in on this.

    Wow, didn't *I* predict this...

    Dunno why Voodoo is taking on Apple, I guess they can't sell their overpriced gaming rigs LIKE THEY USE TOO. Oh wait, they STILL do... though I don't think they're selling as many units as they use to. ;)

    "The Voodoo brand will stop servicing gamers specifically and turn into much more of a lifestyle brand."

    Abandoning gamers that bought their 'gaming' PCs in the past, those same gamers who made them who they are are now below them - now they're a lifestyle brand.

    Marking up an UGLY Mac Air Clone with a "carbon-fiber chassis" that umm... can't play games (due to on craptastic onboard Intel video) AND badge it with a Voodoo logo, price it accordingly at $2,099 and then call it one? They're sure are REACHING these days.
  • feelingshorter - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    I started typing some anti-apple stuff and i decided to delete the message and say that I've given up. Its impossible to get through to some.

    But I would like to mention that you haven't even read the article or must have lost your attention span half way through. It does not say the laptop is a gaming laptop, and even says its quite the opposite. I'm sorry but that laptop is priced exactly like the MacBook Air and beats it in every aspect from looks to features. Even before the Envy 133, there are lenovo notebooks out there that really beats the macbook air in features/weight/battery life. Compare the 3000 dollar macbook air and the x300 from lenovo and you'd realize that Steve Jobs is just selling you a whiff of his fart. And your sniffing it up thinking its the best perfume you ever smelled without looking further.

    Why isn't there a rating system on these comments as compared to comments on daily tech?

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