For years, PC makers have competed with one another largely on price. PCs, it was said, were nothing more than a commodity. But over the past couple of years, consumers have begun to take the overall experience a lot more seriously.
Last year's successful launch of the Apple iPhone made clear to cell phone makers that yes, the experience a "commodity" provides for the customer matters. PC makers have begun to take note and leading the way is Dell who began pre-loading the new Dell Dock on consumer PCs yesterday.
The new dock, represents a significant improvement for Windows Vista users over the default experience by seamlessly integrating programs and data into the desktop experience. It's a first step to be sure but it's a pretty bold move for one of the world's leading PC producers to take.
While at a glance, one might try to argue that the dock looks like the MacOS X dock. But that would be akin to people saying that the dock in MacOS X is like the LaunchPad that came with IBM OS/2. What makes the Dell dock special is its ease of customization, low memory foot print, and raw performance. In addition, as pretty as the Dell Dock is, its focus is on usability rather than flash. Short-cuts get separated from folders, the category view is designed for ease of access, and dozens of small touches make it feel as if it were a natural part of Windows.
Developed by Stardock's ObjectDock team, the Dell Dock is not based on the ObjectDock code but rather a brand-new Stardock technology platform designed to deliver exquisite performance while being incredibly efficient with system resources.
"We've spent years learning how to integrate new technology into Microsoft Windows to improve the user experience," said Kirk Windisch, Director of Stardock Software. "Now the focus is how to deliver this improved experience to consumers with enterprise-level robustness with a minimum use of system resources."
The Dell Dock is expected to be launched on over 11 million PCs this year. For PC users, it is a first step to a brave new world where the PC makers themselves are taking the Windows experience more and more seriously. Dell has clearly made giving their consumer customers a better experience a priority.