Windows, you sad, sad thing. Let’s not go into the whole Mac-vs-Windows debate; let’s instead take a look at the packaging for the new Windows Vista and Office products. (or at least some of them.)

Vista Home Basic

Office 2007 Professional

Office 2007 Home & Student Edition

Now, I think the design is rather benign. Not brilliant, not terrible. Doesn’t stand out, but then again, doesn’t stand out. But I do have to comment on the packaging itself.

Plastic? Are you serious? This isn’t the first instance of Microsoft products packaged in plastic – the previous version of Offie for Mac, for example, was done in similar bubbly plastic. And aside from being incredibly annoying to open, those plastic blister packs are terrible for the environment! Considering how many of these MS is expecting to sell worldwide (1 billion?), it seems monstrous that its all going to end up in the bin without so much of a second thought.

There are green plastics, made from Corn or recycled materials. But I doubt its one of those. Also, some might argue that plastic is more durable, so you can keep it on the shelf, for instance. But how often do you remove your software from its box. Usually once.

Are environmental trends in packaging design dead on arrival? Is Microsoft going to feel any heat from Earth advocacy groups? Will Windows Vista become the biggest albatross in business history?

Original size artwork here on the official Windows Vista Blog.