If you needed any further testament to the colossal failure that is Microsoft Windows Vista, just read this Wall Street Journal article detailing PC manufacturers attempts to design around Vista's shortcomings, shortcomings that no amount of marketing are going to fix.
...[S]ome PC makers are trying to improve that [Vista] experience by adding their own proprietary software to their machines. In some cases, they're creating new user interfaces intended to make Vista faster and easier to use. In other cases they're replacing applications from other software companies with their own....
Today, Microsoft encourages PC makers to build software "on top of Windows Vista that enhances the customer experience," according to an email from Lauren Moynihan, a senior product manager at Microsoft.
This is the problem: they can't. At least, not as much as they'd like. PC manufacturers are trying to stand out, but given that they've ceded so much power and control over the computing experience to Microsoft, the best they can provide is "Windows dressing."
For Sony, HP, or other PC manufacturers hoping to create an Apple-esque experience, forget it. Your best chance of doing so is with Linux. When you pre-install Windows, you pre-install Microsoft's view of the world, with all the bad (and good) that comes with that view. Dell can replace Skype with its own VoIP software, but it can't replace the look, feel, and experience of an increasingly all-consuming Windows experience.
Perhaps Dell, Sony, etc. should band together with Adobe, Google, and others to create Linux-based computing experiences for consumers and/or enterprises. Each of these companies arguably has the brand awareness to take the Linux out of the Linux desktop, and re-brand it as their own. Windows will never give them this opportunity, no matter how hard they try.