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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  • michael2k - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Were you a Mac user that bought the first Intel Macs?

    The software was at worst 2x slower.

    And... you say, "They are being held back by inferior industrial design", which is exactly what was written in the intro for this article. The only reason Vista was mentioned was because that was an aspect of PC design the OEMs had precious control over, so the only thing left for them to tackle was industrial design.

    You think you are superior for not "succumbing" to pro-Mac sentiment? Is that like not "succumbing" to pro-Zune sentiment, or pro-XBox sentiment, or any other "underdog gaining in popularity" sentiment?
  • Steve Guilliot - Saturday, June 14, 2008 - link

    Yes, I bought one of the first Intel Mac Minis, and I had to upgrade the RAM to 2GB because of Rosetta. I have some experience here, thanks.

    So I'm wrong becuase the speed hit from Rosetta was 2x instead of 5x. Don't you know you're making my point? Anandtech articles frequently make much of a 3% speed increase due to faster RAM, etc. Don't you think a 50% performance hit is significant?

    Second, if you only percieve a 2x slowdown, it's because the Intel hardware was fundamentally faster masking much of the slowdown. You can't seriously say the speed improvement from Photoshop CS2 to CS3 was only 2x.

    I notice you ignored my point about poor app stability. I've had apps crash in Rosetta far more frequently than Vista pre-SP1 (which is to say almost never).

    It doesn't matter that the article mentioned the inferior industrial design when they go on to put blame on MS. Maybe the only thing the OEMs could tackle was industrial design. So? They still failed at that, didn't they?

    I own a 5G iPod, a Zune, an Intel Mac, and a few PCs. I do see both sides, and I can say with certiantly that the pro-Mac position is hyped, and MS is getting shorted by the tech community who think it's cool to blast Windows.
  • Inkjammer - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    Yep, I concur. I've been playing around with Vista since launch day and I've only had one app (out of dozens and dozens) that wouldn't work right. Short of some driver issues (Creative and Nvidia) I never had any real Vista-specific issues.

    On my old Toshiba Tecra M7, Vista BSOD'd the first time I loaded it up. When I rebooted, Vista gave me a warning messaged that it detected the crash was caused by an incompatible BIOS and that a new BIOS was available for download, even provided a link as to where to get the update. Never had a problem after flashing my system. I was rather impressed with that.
  • ElFindo - Thursday, June 12, 2008 - link

    It seems to me that I had more trouble getting things running under XP out of the box. When there was that initial shift and everything was 'compatibility mode', which didn't work half the time anyways. In fact some of those same programs I had issues running under XP (mostly games in my experience) actually did run on Vista out of the box.
  • Rev1 - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - link

    I'll agree there with you on that, when i 1st got my comp last year at vista launch most of my probs with it not working right was vista, and a cheap nzxt 500w power suply which was purely my fault. Having said that though i think vista works fine now exept no Hd acceleration for sounds cards like eax. I thought my logitech z5300 on a audigy 2zs on xp sounded light years better than my current z5500 on a X-fi extreme gamer on vista. So bad actually i switch to the onboard realtek and use the optical connection for sound.
  • adelaidewright - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    Definitely, Windows 7 is about to impresses the XP users who resisted to Vista on the ground of performance and compatibility. Windows' newest avatar has a great look and it consumes least of the system resources. It's not surprising that more and more users are migrating to Windows 7. Windows 7 is a multi talented Operating System which includes native functionality to read and write Blue-Ray discs. Windows 7 has many built-in tools to help with program compatibility and it also features an improved backup solution to help keep your information safe. Windows7 is an advanced Operating System with excellent features. Windows 7 builds on the substantial investment.
    The Window Support is an independent provider of on-demand tech support and not affiliated with any third party brand unless specified. Their service was very professional and resolved my problem completely. As always were very patience and knowledgeable. They managed to solve the problem.

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