Now that Macs are PCs -- we mean really real PCs that run Windows n' stuff -- the beige box world is having a harder time than ever keeping peoples' interest when their inner John Hodgman longs to walk on the wild side and snap up a Macintel. Re-enter Microsoft: the company's latest kick is, of course, vertical integration (see: Zune), so it should come as no surprise that Redmond's supposedly been issuing a strict aesthetic best-practices kit, called the Windows Vista Industrial Design Toolkit, to PC OEMs like HP and Gateway; apparently Microsoft's got a team of twenty some-odd designers working to guarantee the first round of Vista boxes are "objects of pure desire," sure to re-obsess jejune PC-buyers like it was Win95 all over again, even in spite of Cupertino's best laid plans. The claim is that Microsoft is in no way enforcing these guidelines or requiring PC manufacturers to pretty up their boxes, but even if they were, well, given how often Windows boxes tend to get hit with the fugly stick it might not be such a bad thing.

[Thanks, CoreyTheGent]