Microsoft Pushes PC Design Innovation

Microsoft on Monday announced the start of a design competition to rethink the desktop computer. The company thinks it is time to move beyond the big beige box, offering a top prize of $125,000 to the group or person with the best PC design. Microsoft hopes that the contest will challenge participants to think outside the box while using Longhorn as a guide.

Details of the contest appeared on the, a site that appeared about a week ago with a vague description and teaser video on the front page.

As Windows moves into its third decade, Microsoft realizes that in order to keep interest in its operating system up, it needs to rethink how people are using their computers. In addition, the release of Longhorn along with new innovative desktops could drive sales for all involved.

Apple in recent years has made the aesthetics of its hardware one of its top priorities, resulting in computer design like the unique G4 Cube and Mac Mini, or the simple utilitarian design of its newer PowerMac G5 desktops.

"People care about what their PC looks like, sounds like, and feels like. In this spirit, and in honor of the third decade of Windows, we're inviting students, independent designers and established design teams to help us envision a future that’s based on experiences," explained Microsoft Group VP Jim Allchin.

The idea for the contest came from Microsoft's Windows division through a conversation about what made Windows PCs "cool." Since a large part of Microsoft's recent push has to do with products and services that complement the digital lifestyle, much of the conversation revolved around machines that further that concept.

"Out of that, we decided try something new - a Windows-based PC design competition that would give you the opportunity to weigh in," the competition Web site says.

Design entries will be accepted starting on May 18, with judging taking place in November when finalists will be selected. At that time, the judging process will be open to the public in a "virtual showroom," and users will have a chance to vote for their favorite concepts.

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