PCs Make a Fashion Statement at PROJECT

LAS VEGAS – Aug. 26, 2008 – PCs have gone from being considered by many as a drab utilitarian box to the latest fashion accessory. That’s the message Microsoft is bringing this week to PROJECT Las Vegas, a global tradeshow for the fashion industry.

PROJECT attracts leading designers, store buyers, stylists and media who are looking for a glimpse into the future of fashion — just the crowd Microsoft is trying to reach with its message about high-style PCs.

During the show, Microsoft will also highlight the concept of “The Windows Lifestyle,” a reference to all the different devices and tools that Windows enables, from Windows mobile phones and PCs with Windows to the Windows Live services that are available from Microsoft that allow consumers to easily stay connected with people and information. “Windows allows people to express their individual personalities, while managing their lives and connecting with others,” says Rob Poznanski, senior marketing manager at Microsoft. “Today, consumers want their technology purchase to reflect their personal style and they appreciate the wide range of product choices that only PCs with Windows deliver.”

The New Black

Why does Microsoft, primarily a software company, care about the physical design and style of a PC?

“We’re interested in bringing choice and innovation to the total end-user experience,” explains Poznanski, who came to Microsoft more than two years ago from the music industry. “The design of your computer is as important as the design of your handbag or living-room couch. After all, if a customer isn’t attracted by a PC, they’ll never get to experience our software.”

That’s why Microsoft supports its PC partners in their efforts to produce truly innovative designs. “We give these companies early feedback on the prototypes they show us, and we help showcase some of the most fashionable PCs, as we are here at PROJECT,” he says. “It’s a two-way street; our partners are constantly encouraging us to be as innovative as we can be.”

Poznanski believes that a PC should be an extension of someone’s personality and taste, just as their clothes, home and car are. “We don’t think customers should be limited to PCs that are black, white or silver. PCs with Windows are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, designs and accessories, so you can have a PC that reflects who you are — your personal style and fashion sense. There’s a PC with Windows out there for everyone and with any style.”

What are some of the design elements that consumers want now? The obvious ones are choice of shape, color, texture and pattern, but Poznanski notes that factors such as small footprint and light weight are particularly important for the road-warrior lifestyle and are also part of the latest design trends.

Shedding Your Skin

Users’ ability to personalize their PCs doesn’t end with the PC design itself. It can stretch into the software they use as well. Windows DreamScene, for example, is a utility that allows videos and animations — like waves breaking on a beach — to be used as desktop wallpapers.

A company called Stardock, a Microsoft partner that will also be at PROJECT, offers a utility called MyColors that can change the look and feel of the entire Windows environment so that it conforms to any one of a variety of themes, like a sports team or a car brand. Their visual “skins” change nearly every element of the Windows GUI (graphical user interface), including icons, title bars, push buttons, menus and the Start bar.

For example, environment-minded users can show their passion for the planet by downloading a Think Green skin, which will change their desktop to incorporate an animated start menu, a matching weather forecast gadget and many other similarly theme-related elements. Other available themes include animal prints, wood grains and sleek stainless steel.

Windows Couture

Rob Poznanski, senior marketing manager at Microsoft Rob Poznanski, senior marketing manager at Microsoft

August 25, 2008

Microsoft is bringing a secondary message to the attendees of PROJECT, which is that Windows can be an excellent tool for the sorts of tasks designers do every day to bring their fashion designs to the retail market. For example, a Tablet PC can be used to sketch out a design and have it available for e-mailing or other digital uses. Windows Live Photo Gallery makes it easy to share the photos and sketches with potential buyers because there is no need to upload photos to a shared file, remember passwords or send links. Windows Movie Maker can be used to create and edit videos of the latest fashion show and add to your Web site so that consumers can view the fashion show too.

“We want to reach fashion trendsetters with the message that PCs with Windows can really help them do so much more and do it with style,” Poznanski says. “And PCs with Windows are available in a broader range of design choices.”

The PC vendors whose products will be featured at the show include Acer, Asus, Ego, Flybook, Gateway, HP and Sony. “The PCs that we will be highlighting are not just beautiful to look at, they are also highly functional PCs that offer a great overall experience,” Poznanski says. “Like with many automobiles, you are not only getting beautiful paint and design, you are also getting a high-performance vehicle, with state-of-the-art features.”

Fashion Forward

Heidi Klum’s catch phrase from the “Project Runway” television show is, “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next you’re out.” So will the fashion PC trend have legs? “I think this is going to become an important part of how PC vendors differentiate themselves going forward,” Poznanski says.

“Once a design consciousness hits a market, it never goes away; look how important design and style have become in the car industry,” he adds. “In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if five years from now, we’ll be able to look at a PC from across the room and immediately know what brand it is, like recognizing a Prada bag.”

A Gateway M Series laptop, featuring a color-infused design. The M Series laptops come in four custom designs and are designed to drive the Windows Vista multimedia experience via extra features such as a brushed-metal precision-touch multimedia control panel. A Gateway M Series laptop, featuring a color-infused design. The M Series laptops come in four custom designs and are designed to drive the Windows Vista multimedia experience via extra features such as a brushed-metal precision-touch multimedia control panel.

August 25, 2008

The Asus F6V designer PCs represents a unique combination of features that will appeal to all senses. These thin and lightweight solutions are packed with powerful features and include a stylish high-gloss finish with unique designs at an affordable price. Multiple combinations of scents and colors are available. The Asus F6V designer PCs represents a unique combination of features that will appeal to all senses. These thin and lightweight solutions are packed with powerful features and include a stylish high-gloss finish with unique designs at an affordable price. Multiple combinations of scents and colors are available.

August 25, 2008

The Sony VAIO FW series of laptops feature a 16.4" extra-wide display and unique 16:9 aspect ratio to view widescreen movies in their cinematic format. The Sony VAIO FW series of laptops feature a 16.4″ extra-wide display and unique 16:9 aspect ratio to view widescreen movies in their cinematic format.

August 25, 2008

“Think Green” -- one of the “skins” that can be downloaded to customize the Windows XP or Windows Vista graphical user interface (GUI). “Think Green” — one of the “skins” that can be downloaded to customize the Windows XP or Windows Vista graphical user interface (GUI).

August 25, 2008