The computer industry has failed to follow Apple's lead on design, a Microsoft hardware boss has admitted.

Microsoft hardware general manager Tom Phillips says non-Apple computer design has changed little since the first IBM debuted in 1981.

He told BusinessWeek: "We really have to design in more of a user context. What is it that the customers are trying to accomplish? Are they trying to integrate a digital camera? No, they're trying to print their pictures."

"A great product captures as much of your soul as your attention. It has to hit in an emotional spot. We have to compliment some of the design work done by some of our competitors such as Apple.

"There's work we could do to make our product more relevant and more interesting to customers. The mobile devices are where you're starting to see that metamorphosis begin. We're just beginning this change," he adds.