In case you hadn’t heard, Microsoft and the Industrial Designers of America (IDSA) recently held a competition in which the challenge was to “rethink the Windows-based PC experience and the role it plays in people’s lives.” Contestants were asked to “envision how form factor influences the digital lifestyle” in four categories: personal productivity, entertainment, communication & mobility, and living & lifestyle. There will be be two $50,000 prizes awarded (one judged by Bill G. himself) along with a $25,000 prize based on public voting, with the winners to be announced at CES 2006. The designs submitted range from the practical to the fanciful to the completely untenable, and serve as a glimpse into a possible future for consumer electronics as well as a cheap way for Microsoft to outsource their design department. The device pictured above, called the “Bookshelf,” is certain to be a favorite of Judge Gates’, as it incorporates heavy digital rights management from the get-go by storing content on rather large square cartridges that would be sold by digital service providers. We couldn’t say why consumers would buy a product that’s constantly expanding in size using proprietary media, but hey, that’s half the fun of these concepts. Read on to see some of the highlights from the contest and then head over to vote for your fave.