More Microsoft Longhorn PC concepts

Thanks to a tip from Steve Clayton, a treasure chest of Windows Longhorn inspired PC design concepts has been just unearthed. An industrial design company located in San Francisco called Ammunition were recently interviewed as part of a Wired article on evolving PC designs. Following the link to their website shows an array of computer-related design concepts for a variety of companies including Microsoft.

An image overlay of a Longhorn screenshot indicates these were commissioned for the purpose of demonstrating to OEMs how Microsoft envisioned Longhorn PCs. In relations to the other Microsoft-commissioned Windows PC concepts by Carbon Design, these are much earlier. The Aero Glass theme is clearly carried throughout in both concepts.

Microsoft Oxygen
Microsoft Oxygen concept desktop system that converts from typical use mode, to media viewing, to pen input.

Microsoft Zinc
Microsoft Zinc concept intended for countertop use.

Microsoft Carbon
Microsoft Carbon concept micro PC with high object value.

Microsoft Argon
Microsoft Argon concept entertainment biased all-in-one PC.

Microsoft Cobalt
Microsoft Cobalt convertible notebook/tablet system.

It’s interesting to see how similar the Oxygen is to the current generation iMacs when they are easily years apart of each other. But it’s important to realize Apple designs Macs but Microsoft doesn’t design Windows PCs. To say Microsoft doesn’t have taste is not entirely correct if the above concepts are any indication.

26 insightful thoughts

  1. These designs are terrific. Who designed them (Microsoft? Or another party?) And who would’ve been contracted to build them? Why were none of them carried forward?

    On a related note, do you have any in-depth Longhorn videos showing some of its capabilities? I’ve seen a couple on YouTube, but figured you might have more.

    Finally, besides the fact that these designs weren’t realized, why do you think that we haven’t seen many Longhorn application concepts implemented on Vista? Still to this day, not many apps take advantage of WPF. The Yahoo Messenger client that was showcased hasn’t yet (to my knowledge) been released. Even Microsoft itself hasn’t released any real goodies — not to mention the fact that its Ultimate Extras program has produced nearly nothing. But I remember that the Longhorn concept videos had so much great stuff — with regard to both eye-candy and functionality. Shouldn’t the transition to Vista have been straightforward and seamless?

  2. These certainly are some beautiful designs. I especially like the Argon concept.

    If anything, what this shows is that OEM’s are truly Microsofts best friend and worst enemy. Certainly they (OEMs) are responsible for creating a very wide variety of form factors and models, but they still create way to many monolithic boxes.

  3. In reply to T Man

    The reason most PC’s are still “monolithic boxes” is because those small all-in-one systems are next to impossible to upgrade. Besides stuff like RAM or hard drives, you really can’t upgrade the things. They can still make the systems small but easy to upgrade. Not everything has to be small and thin.

  4. Really nice, but it’s sad to see how the concepts for everything, from the OS to the design of the PCs themselves, never comes to be as good what was originally planned.

  5. Ooh.

    I like Oxygen and Zinc.

    I don’t get Carbon.

    Argon looks too curvy.

    Cobalt seems interesting.

    Wish I could see them in real life. Too bad Microsoft couldn’t get together with these industrial design companies and make them a reality.

  6. Umbelievable !!!

    I think that the look of the Oxygen is really extra and …. guess what .. longhorn was looking nice .. we need some pure transparency instead of the glass effect.. .sure glass effect is cool… but I find transparency a lot better for the title bar.

    The size of the close button is AMAZING and the useful red bar is looking nice… sometimes I’m asking myself “why the research of Microsoft are so good…but the final product seems lack of these good things”.

  7. I like the design of Oxygen, Argon and Cobalt. I don’t see why Microsoft make the early builds of Longhorn available to the public and make a HUGE disclaimer that says that is an early alpha and beta builds with lots of bugs. I also think some of the old Longhorn features and concepts are nice and should have been included with Vista. I think Vista isn’t super different from XP in terms of features.

    Also, who designed these hardware concepts?

    -Orion

  8. Microsoft should seriously consider entering the computer hardware market, at least in small way that won’t upset the OEMs so much. Or at least, force OEMs to do a lot better with computer designs to appeal to the wide selection of people who are attracted to beauty on the outside. HP has done pretty darn well and the first design could have been an inspiration for their current line of desktops; the way the monitor looks.

  9. I agree Albert. Microsoft let the OEMs make media players, the failed… The reason macs are so stable is because they write their own drivers and CONTROL the hardware…

  10. these are awsome, cool loking designs i cant’t just express them in words. i hope one of this is released before i buy my next PC

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  12. Wow these are amazing. I’d say for now the hottest laptops would be HP dv-line and XPS (non-Gaming) line, they really look great. Desktops would be as Albert said, I believe.

    I wonder what would happen if MS ditched the OEMs and went hardware-solo. People will get pissed like heck, but atleast driver support won’t (or shouldn’t) be an issue.

  13. These designs came from a company called ammunition. Their website is ammunitiongroup.com . The reason why they look so good is because Robert Brunner is behind all of them (he used to be Apple’s Golden Industrial Designer).

  14. The Cobalt is just what I’m looking for: a convertable tablet PC that can hide the keyboard discreetly yet is still easy to do so(It looks to me like the keyboard slides instead of swiveling).

    My only problem is that big hunk of metal in the back when its in laptop mode. Thats gonna cause some serious inconvenience issues.

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