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What if Microsoft Abondoned OEMs?


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[imgflt=Right]http://www.istartedsomething.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/zinc.jpg[/imgflt]As some of you may (or may not) know, I love looking at concepts for different User Interfaces, models of next generation PCs, and other hardware related design factors. Then I came across some interesting supposed Microsoft hardware designs. Granted that these are about six months old, they still brought up an interesting question: do you think Microsoft should abondon OEMs? If so, what would be the benefits and contrasts of a hardware controlled market?

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I personally believe that if Microsoft were to dump OEMs and begin producing their own hardware, there would be two major benefits: A) Every Microsoft OS afterwords would have the same stability as a Mac due to controlled hardware, and B) Microsoft could begin placing more focus on user interface changes and revolutionize the once so perfect Windows experience.

As well, it would be interesting to see how the multi touch interface that Microsoft is working so diligently on for Surface would be integrated into their own hardware. For instance, if everyone could simply place their credit/ debit card onto their computer monitor to create a PayPal transaction would this not be a major step in home computing and refreshen online shopping? Or if one could easily place their Zune right next to their PC, have their PC recognize it, and begin transfering music, could that not be the final blow to the iPod?

Another interesting thought that came to me is this: if Microsoft begins producing hardware, then obviously the first round would be mistake heavy, but everybody learns from their mistakes. Hardware like the Xbox 360 could even benefit from such a sudden move as everything turned 'stable' and further integration between hardware such as the 360 could lead to some amazing breakthroughs in usability and could cause other consoles like the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii to rot.

Now sure, some may say 'What about the OEMs!?'. Is it not obvious? The world of OEMs would eventually have to turn to the userbase themselves and pick up Linux distrobutions. Hopefully many of you readers understand that nothing is more stable then Linux on the proper machine. And then if Linux distrobutions became the main OS for OEMs the price of PCs would drop at least two hundred. If you dont believe me, get on Dell and compare the prices between the models that are shipped with either Ubuntu or Vista.

In the end, why would it not be a Win-Win-Win situation? With the designs I linked to at the top, it may even be possible that the entirety of Mac hardware would finally lay victim to Microsoft. All in all, I think it would lead to a stable world, one in which things would 'just work' where everyone gets their own way. Then again, this is just my opinion, so what is yours?

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My opinion, you say?

Well, I love OEM's. Considering the graphics options of an iMac (promoting the 8800GS to the best GPU ever :roll: ) Microsoft probably won't do any better, considering these designs require sleek hardware, and depend on inferior cooling. A stable Windows would be nice, but please let them keep distributing Vista ( Or, in the future, Vienna ) for OEM/Gaming PC use, as Linux just isn't an option for gamers like me.

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How could a gaming model fir in such a design? Surely they will need a Midi-tower sized thing to properly fit in the graphical power, let alone cooling. There's a reason why laptops don't have 9800GX2's in them. The only way I see these used is as medium game PC's, and mainly work or media PC's.

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Here are several reasons why I believe Microsoft should not abandon OEMs, both in their interests and the interests of their users.

Legal Issues

Microsoft has been sued several times by the EU for vendor lock-in. My best guess for the reason that has not happened to Apple is their lack of popularity. I predict that if they switched to dedicated hardware they would be fined heavily.

Business Model

I hold the opinion that the main reason for the popularity of Windows is their deals with hardware vendors to ship Windows with their product. If Microsoft had a similar business model to Apple, vendors would simply start shipping Linux with their products. Linux would, by then, be a household name and other hardware vendors would overtake Microsoft with lower prices and eventually start expanding into other markets.

Google

In my opinion, Microsoft have no advantage in expanding into the hardware market as this will eventually lead to their loss. The market seems to be currently moving in the direction of web-based applications and I believe that eventually a computer will simply be an interface to servers elsewhere. Microsoft should focus on dominating the internet. In the future a desktop Operating System will take few resources to write and users will be able to take a free trial of Linux (Linux is free, hosting is not) to see how good the OS is. Microsoft will be wiped out of the market when they not only focus on the desktop market, but confine their OS to one make. Another company/open source community will create an OS that can also connect to remote operating systems but will function on any make of computer and Microsoft will be wiped-out of the market.

Just my 20 pence.

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How could a gaming model fir in such a design? Surely they will need a Midi-tower sized thing to properly fit in the graphical power, let alone cooling. There's a reason why laptops don't have 9800GX2's in them. The only way I see these used is as medium game PC's, and mainly work or media PC's.

Some of those designs, including the one I posted, contains a very thick build unlike the iMac which should allow for grahic cards such as the new (nVidia?) dual core graphics card.

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Legal Issues

Microsoft has been sued several times by the EU for vendor lock-in. My best guess for the reason that has not happened to Apple is their lack of popularity. I predict that if they switched to dedicated hardware they would be fined heavily.

This is precisely what I was going to say. MS does not want to take the risk with anti-trust laws.
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Surely they are only locked to their OEMs for a certain amount of time, right? They could, theoretically, not resign their OEM partnership or they could release a gimped out version of their OS for OEMs while keeping high quality features and functionality locked to their hardware.

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There's no way Microsoft could just "abandon OEMs". You don't just walk away from huge business relationships for the sake of mimicking a peer business (Apple) that has a relative reputation for having a more stable, tightly controlled platform (Mac). And my MacBook Pro has had apps freeze/hang more than my Vista desktop, so I don't buy in to a lot of that perception.

There's always the chance that Microsoft could start selling their own computers, but this would not be as a replacement for their OEM relationships.

Think of it from the perspective of a business that has a huge deployment of Windows PCs. Right now they have a relationship with Microsoft for buying Windows and Office licenses in bulk at a nice discount. They also have a relationship with, e.g., Dell or HP, for buying lots of computers with good pricing, warranty, support, and net-60-days payment. If Microsoft suddenly said, "Hey we're going to stop selling individual Windows licenses and you can only get it with a PC that we sell from now on," then that company would immediately switch to Apple. Or they'd stockpile licenses of XP and Vista but then never purchase from Microsoft again.

(I don't have any special insider knowledge here, so don't take this for anything more than rational speculation.)

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If Microsoft would just abandon OEM's then I wouldn't care much - I don't buy OEM stuff anyway (too expensive)

But if they would make windows only run on hardware they personally made then I'd personally sue them.

I would write plugins, if I knew what kind of plugins were needed.. :(

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Well maybe I'd sue them and start a massive "switch to Linux now" campaign

Stability shouldn't be blamed on the hardware (unless it's broken, obviously) - if they do crappy programming for it then that programming has to be fixed (examples of crappy programming include forcing the drivers to be signed, it may enhance stability, but only because they only sign drivers that are proven to be stable - however, many drivers that are stable are not signed, some because they are too old, and if by chance a driver isn't stable then that's the user's risk to take, not M$'s risk to eliminate)

Said windows-experience was fine on XP (which I will continue to use until they make an OS that is actually better, not just better-looking with more DRM under the hood) and destroyed with Vista (downsampled HD video's? harddisk activity while idle? press F8 during every boot if you want to be able to use all your hardware? making your games need twice as much RAM and a better processor to meet the required specs?)

While this isn't supposed to be a rant about Vista, I fear they'd come up with more such crappy "innovations" that limit us in our freedom if they could abandon OEM's by forcing specific pieces of hardware down on us (I'm sure they could think of something that makes it even harder to remove DRM-protection)

I would write plugins, if I knew what kind of plugins were needed.. :(

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