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Former HP/Voodoo head: HP blew chance to fight Apple

updated 08:55 am EST, Tue March 1, 2011

Microsoft's Rahul Sood says HP failed to fight Mac

Voodoo PC founder, former HP CTO and now Microsoft Xbox GM Rahul Sood has offered both criticism and advice to HP both on Facebook and on Twitter in the past day. He argued that HP hadn't put enough faith in the Voodoo PC team and had dissolved it before really had a change to compete with Apple in industrial design. The high-end PC division had just needed a "few years of patience, and investment in our tooling/process" but was folded in quickly, with its most unique product the Envy notebooks designed to match the build quality and attention to detail of the MacBook Pro.

He also criticized HP, and other Windows PC makers, for assuming a false dichotomy between low prices and good design, referring to the tendency towards poorly made PCs at the bottom end versus Apple's high-grade industrial design. "There are ways to cut costs that don't involve cutting the customer experience," he said. "It requires broad thinking -- and there is a reason design is becoming a focus at many companies."

The Microsoft worker also noted that many were too obsessed with specifications solely for their own sake and that few outside of Apple were paying attention to the design that users had to deal with every day. While affecting many companies, the comments were partly leveled at HP's tendency to focus heavily on loading as many features as possible but not paying attention to the subjective experience.

"Most people don't care about or pay attention to 'specs,'" Sood wrote. "They might look at memory and storage, but beyond that it's about what hits their senses... things like battery life and display size, [and] colors."

He recommended that "every executive in the PC industry should use an Apple notebook" to get a sense for how much control it had over the experience of its computers.

The comments are superficially controversial but indirectly reflected Microsoft's broader initiative in improving the experiences of Windows PCs. After having been criticized for letting hardware OEMs 'ruin' the experience with excessive unwanted software or for overly generic design, the company has taken to advising companies on streamlining their OS installs. It has gone so far as to partly shape the PCs themselves and worked closely with Samsung on the Sliding PC 7 series to create a tablet and notebook hybrid that it hoped reflected a better experience.

Despite stereotypes, many Microsoft employees are free to use non-Windows computers for work if the company's OS isn't essential. Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, Xbox Live Programming Director, is one of the better-known Mac users at the company. [via ConceivablyTech]

By Electronista Staff


  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: May 2001


    Coulda, woulda, shoulda...

    The comments made by Sood very much vindicate what Mac users have known for decades. It's the total package that counts.

    Money quote: "The Microsoft worker also noted that many were too obsessed with specifications solely for their own sake and that few outside of Apple were paying attention to the design that users had to deal with every day."

    The "tech spec" crowd deosn't get it, never has, and probably never will. All the technical specifications in the world mean nothing if the end product isn't usable. Devices that technology enthusiasts adore and love playing around with including OS's, are almost always unfathomable to regular users.

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001



    engineers and 100% left-brained types don't get it... typical intellectual arrogance.

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    It doesn't matter how well-built

    the machines are If they're not running OS X, people won't be interested.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jul 2004


    Pretty laptops that still run windows.

    This guy does not get it. There might be a small minority of windows fanboys that buy Apple laptops for the "hardware" or just admire the "hardware" but most buy them for the "software".

    To paraphrase Bill Clinton: " It's the OS and software stupid."

  1. Athens

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003


    I think hes right

    I prefer using Windows on my Macbook Pro over my Dell Laptop. I think Windows looks better too on it. My Dell Laptop is twice as thick and feels cheap.

  1. BigMac2

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Dec 2000


    Better built quality is always good.

    Every companies should pay attention to industrial design. A good design is always recognized by the public and by other firm. Look at the car builder industry, look how GM and Ford miss the boat when you compare their entry product with others foreign companies.

    I've got 5 Apple Laptop since the past 15 years, and I've been able to resold every single for good money, after 3 years of use all my laptop was 100% operational and still productive. By that time I saw many one trash their Acer Fischer Price plastic Laptop with anger.

  1. samirsshah

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2010



    about HP. Their lifeline is WebOS and what comes from Microsoft in terms of tablets. This is how big companies kill themselves.

    Rahul is very right.

    I also did not believe that Industrial design mattered THAT much but when the rumors about Jony Ive came up and I looked into myself, I suddenly realized that industrial design matters and matters very much.

    Elsewhere I have said that Samsung Galaxy S II will be hot seller and that is because it has very good industrial design in addition to hot specs.

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