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]