This week marks the start of WinHEC, the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, where Microsoft traditionally proselytizes or, as some would have it, tells the PC hardware industry what they should be delivering to fit in with Microsoft’s plans. Mary Jo Foley reports that the theme for 2006 will be “We’re turning the corner” on Vista, Longhorn Server, and Office 2007 which seems to be somewhat defensive, but appropriate given the spotty record of Vista.
Also paving the way was the anticlimactic public release of hardware requirements to run Vista, sort of. The caveat is because Microsoft is persisting with the pointless lowest common denominator “Vista Capable” program which aside from 512MB of memory, covers just about any current PC and only guarantees minimal compatibility as we have discussed previously. If you want to experience the spiffy new Vista Aero interface, you’ll need more – at the “Premium” level, 1 GB of memory and a variety of graphics features that preclude many current PCs with integrated graphics on the motherboard.
If you would prefer get the information straight, without a PR intermediary, head on over to Windows Logo Program Requirements V. 3.0 for all the gory details including the “Basic” logo level which didn’t make the press release. Presumably this will all be clear to consumers, both business and personal.
Windows Vista Home Basic – $255.55
Windows Vista Home Premium – $511.10
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition – $638.88
Windows Vista Business – $830.54
Windows Vista Enterprise – $1,022.20
Yikes! These aren’t confirmed and they aren’t the OEM or volume purchase prices, but did someone just mark things way up? Per the post:
Let’s assume these are the final prices then Windows Vista Home Premium costs twice as much as Windows XP Professional which is the corresponding equivalent to it!
Maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the Vista rainbow? Or a lot of scrutiny from various antitrust watchdogs.
Todd Bishop at the Seattle P-I has the scoop:
Microsoft appears to have another mysterious hardware project up its sleeve.
Transmeta Corp., which specializes in microprocessors for hand-held computers and other machines, disclosed in a regulatory filing last week that it had “substantially completed” the work required under a series of “development services agreements” that it signed with Microsoft last year.
This much is clear: Microsoft says it’s not related to the tiny “Ultra Mobile PCs” unveiled earlier this month as part of its previously secret Origami Project.
But beyond that, neither company will say what Transmeta has been doing for Microsoft.
More but still scanty details by following the link. Bishop speculates that Microsoft might raise the curtain at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference which starts May 23 in Seattle.
In a bid to capture the huge audience for handheld entertainment gadgets, Microsoft is designing a product that combines video games, music and video in one handheld device, according to sources familiar with the project.
The Microsoft product would compete with Sony, Nintendo and Apple Computer’s products, including the iPod. And Microsoft has some of its most seasoned talent from the division that created its popular Xbox 360 working on it. Game executive J Allard leads the project, and its director is Greg Gibson, who was the system designer on the Xbox 360 video game console. Bryan Lee, the finance chief on the Xbox business, is leading the business side of the project.
The approval of the project spurred the reorganization of the leadership team in the Home and Entertainment Division in December. In September, Robbie Bach, formerly the chief Xbox officer, was promoted to lead the Entertainment and Devices Group, which combined the Xbox with other mobile and entertainment businesses in one of four major product groups.
Then in December, the jobs of the top Xbox executives were broadened so that they could manage all of the businesses related to the broader Entertainment and Devices Group, which included the Xbox business, mobile devices, MSN, music, and home productivity software. Allard, whose group designed the Xbox 360, was named to head “experience and design” for the entire group.
Sources say that the reason for the reorganization was to bring Allard, Lee, Gibson and all of the relevant businesses into a single group, which is supervised by Robbie Bach. The participation of these highly regarded Xbox veterans suggests that Microsoft is very serious about catching up with Sony’s PlayStation Portable handheld game player, Apple’s iPod music players, and Nintendo’s handheld GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS game players.
Curiouser and curiouser! We mentioned the reorganization here and the idea of Microsoft doing its own hardware in this market (a la Xbox) has been around for a while including a prominent mention by Steve Jobs in January.
Update 2: Microsoft officially says “no comment”.
Nate Mook at BetaNews:
Microsoft’s annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference has been scheduled for May 23-25, 2006 in Seattle, Washington. The conference will be crucial for vendors preparing for the launch of Windows Vista late next year, with Windows Server “Longhorn” also expected to make an appearance.
The WinHEC home page has more details.