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Windows May Get Warm And Fuzzy

Windows May Get Warm And Fuzzy

by , 10:00 AM EDT, May 7th, 2004

The tone at this year Windows Hardware engineering Conference (WHEC) is a bit different than that of previous conferences, according to a new article in Wired News. This year's conference is not so much about what new high-powered hardware may be in Intel's development queue, but more about how people might use that hardware. The article says that this year's emphasis seems to be the concept of the digital hub, as well as, of all things, the people that actually use their products. From the article:

WinHEC is a sort of four-day sermon in which the software giant tells hardware makers what it's up to -- and what it expects of them. Allchin kicked off the conference Tuesday with an odd speech and video clips that were not your typical Microsoft testimonials. In one, Burns talked about his emotional attachment to a copy of a Civil War letter he's carried around in his wallet for years.

It's a feeling that drives what Allchin called today's "experience economy." Preteen girls, he said, are emptying stores of the Hello Kitty speakers simply because they love them.

Translation: Emotion creates attachment. And attachment creates sales.

Though Allchin never stated it in so many words, it's time the PC industry created its own Hello Kitties. Hardware developers, he said, must stop thinking in feeds and speeds and start thinking about end users, what they do, and how to appeal to them.

After a lifetime of telling people how they will use computers, it was as if Microsoft had suddenly discovered the consumer.

There's more in the full article, and we recommend it as a very interesting read.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Many Macworld Expos ago, Steve Jobs announced that he wanted the computer, specifically the Mac, to be the center of your digital lifestyle. Mr. Jobs envisioned Mac users creating movies, organizing photos, and listening to music using user-friendly applications that didn't highlight the Mac as much it highlighted how the Mac could be used to enhance one's life.

Mr. Jobs got the concept of the digital hub. Microsoft, and PC makers, on the other hand, did not. Big Redmond said the words, but continued to offer products and features that highlighted Microsoft products, and paid little notice to how those products would be used. So, you get a Web browser that doesn't make it easy to open several Web pages at one time and switch between them, and you don't get seamless integration between you photo organizing app and you movie making app.

As the article point out, Microsoft must have had a 'eureka moment'.

Still, it's one thing to say how it should be done, quite another to do it; and while Microsoft preaches the digital hub word to PC vendors, Apple is moving on. Microsoft has tried to make its apps more humane before -- we still cringe whenever that silly little dog appears when you startup Microsoft Word for the first time. The CPU-cycle chewing animated 'friend' was suppose to help users, but wound up annoying more than helping with its distracting antics. Can the company get it right this time?

Sometimes it's very lonely when you're the leader.

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