Microsoft's annual Next-Gen PC Design Competition is open for online entry submission until 11:59pm EST on December 14th.

The competition aims to encourage ongoing enthusiasm for Windows-based PCs by engaging the imagination and creativity of the industrial design community and delivering a resource for the PC industry at large.

With this competition, Microsoft hopes to identify great talent and spur a dialogue between the ID field, the PC industry and their shared customers regarding what makes a great PC fit their customers’ digital lifestyle.

This year’s competition theme focuses on designs that help people fuel their passion, whether it’s music, travelling or photography.

The designs must contain scenarios and features that address ways to help people pursue their passions more easily, more powerfully and more enjoyably — and even how to help users obtain results they had never thought possible.

This is also the first year the competition will look at software and hardware as part of the PC design. Applicants will need to focus not only on exterior design, shape and colour, but they must pay attention to programs that will enhance what people feel passionate about.

Successful entries will clearly define and thoroughly understand the audiences that the PC is designed for as well as the culture, lifestyle, habits and practices of the user.

All eligible entries will be reviewed January through April 2008 by a distinguished panel of Industrial Designers Society of America member judges from the international PC and industrial design community in addition to representatives from leading hardware manufacturers.

Five winners will be selected, and up to five honorable mentions may be chosen by the judges and there will be a public choice award too. Find out more on the site www.nextgendesigncomp.com.