The Microsoft PC

Listening to the latest episode of Hypercritical (#31), John Siracusa added some really great thoughts to HP’s current strategy of spinning off the PC division.

He looks at the move from the perspective of Microsoft.

It’s an interesting perspective since Microsoft now has one of its largest (if not its largest) Windows OS buyers wanting to exit the game, because it is no longer profitable for them to be in said game. Think about that for a minute — that is huge.

Siracusa makes the argument that continued consolidation among PC manufacturers would ultimately not be a good thing for Microsoft. To me his most interesting comments are about the hardware HP and others are currently producing: cheap crap (for the most part). Siracusa points out that the last time Microsoft saw this happening — with MP3 players — they made their own hardware (the Zune in this case) — and though it was too little too late, the hardware was actually pretty good.

I immediately had a thought.

What if Microsoft bought HP’s PC division to start producing their own hardware: the higher quality PC?

Ignore anti-trust concerns, monetary issues, and everything else — just think about this for a moment.

Microsoft has begun building Microsoft stores, they would have a nice, existing, retail presence. They have deals with all major retailers. They likely have more brand trust than any current PC maker.

In this scenario Microsoft wouldn’t become another me-too PC maker — they would be setting the standard. The standard for: price, quality, design, and speed.

This is not out of the realm of possibility — though it would be a risky move.

If Microsoft did do this and they decided that they wanted to make the best possible PC — something that competes directly with, say, MacBook Pros — wouldn’t that be an interesting change?

I don’t even think it is a market that Microsoft would have to be making more than 2-3 models of computers to be in just a laptop, desktop, and tablet. All Microsoft would need to do is make the best stuff a Windows user could buy and then sell it with a healthy profit margin. Doing that, by comparison to all other PC makers, would make all others look pretty bad — both to consumers and investors.

Certainly sales wouldn’t be robust at a higher price point, but it would prove a crucial point — a point that Microsoft really needs to prove — that Windows is not just the low-cost alternative.

Originally posted for members on: August 31, 2011
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