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Gates Claims PC Era Not Over Yet 307

An anonymous reader writes "Bill Gates has collaborated to pen a response to the Wall Street Journal's recent claim that we are at the end of the PC era. From the article: 'The reality is a little different. The truth is that the model which has fueled the incredible popularity and affordability of the PC will continue to drive innovation and choice in the burgeoning area of personal devices such as cell phones, digital players and mobile PCs. As such, the PC is becoming more important and popular as a key enabler for these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world, from Indianapolis to Istanbul. If anything, it is, to paraphrase Churchill, perhaps the end of the beginning: the end of the first phase in the life of a young and evolving technology that is just now becoming as ubiquitous as the TV or the automobile.'"
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Gates Claims PC Era Not Over Yet

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  • gates is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noishe ( 829350 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:42PM (#15348082)
    hotels aren't going to put their front desk software on a phone, businesses aren't going to hire people to work on pda's.
  • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:55PM (#15348134) Homepage
    The PC will always be around, but it's no longer driving the tech marketplace. Cell phones aren't a substitute, but they're one of four or five things, which, in combination, leave the PC in the support role.

    PC's will be used to produce content, consumer devices will be used to watch/listen/play. Communication will be split among the platforms.
  • by irtza ( 893217 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:57PM (#15348148) Homepage
    Until other devices can provide an easy way to type a paper, type an email, view complicated websites, look at your digital pictures, edit a picture, write shell scripts or view large amounts of data conveniently on other platforms, we will not see the death of the desktop. Televisions, PDAs and cell phones lack the resolution to view many useful websites ( /. looks horrible on my palm). What will come next (imo) is the comoditization of the software and the rise of the service model. The service model will work on all your devices including the desktop. What will make money for companies is how well their service integrates with the multitude of devices out there. Apple is using the Verizon approach of controlling the device and the hardware. This means people are locked in to their service and when they decide to pull features on their new devices, there is no out. If music you purchased on the iTunes music store will only play on an iPod, you have reason to keep it. What happens when mp3 files no longer play on the next gen iPod (which u will need to play your online purchases)... many people will lose a large portion of their music library. MS here is like the GSM companies. They will provide the service; you just need to get a compatible device which can have whatever features they put in. As w/ the ability to install MS-DOS on PC clones, this is a great business model that will benefit the consumer in the long run as it gives more options (even if the current gen of iTunes+iPod is better). * now I only was able to read the 2nd article (about apple's business model) becau se the 1st required me to log in... I will wait until someone posts the content of the first to see how off topic I am
  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <[ten.lemmuhnhoj] [ta] [lemmuhj]> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:00AM (#15348162) Homepage
    If we're talking about work and email and such - sure, the PC isn't going anywhere.

    But I was asking My Lovely Wife (MLW) if she wanted me to buy her a copy of Sodoku for her iBook, since she's always using my DS to play "Brain Age" for the training and Sodoku. (Which leaves me unable to play my new "Super Mario Brothers" right now.)

    She shook her head. "No, because on this, I can write down the answers, while with my laptop I'd have to enter it in, and it would get annoying."

    I think there's something here. Look at console game sales opposed to PC game sales - sure, PC game sales aren't going away, but consoles are clearly dominating. Plug in to TV, and done. Look at the Wii - in a lot of ways, it's really emulating the gaming of the PC only in a true console mode (point and aim, swing and hit the ball - simple as can be).

    The PC isn't going away - but I don't think it's the big deal it once was for all things computer. It's still important, but not for "all things".

    Of course, that's just my opinion - it could be wrong. Now, if I can just get that DS away from her....
  • Re:gates is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigCheese ( 47608 ) <> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:06AM (#15348194) Homepage Journal
    No, but wouldn't a hotel be better served by using a thin client (Sun Ray or somesuch)?

    Many of the places we use PCs are single task workspaces. A low power, low maintenance thin client would work just as well, cost less and be more secure.

    The general purpose workstation will always have their place but are expensive overkill for a lot of tasks. The mainframe had some things right all along.
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:08AM (#15348201) Homepage
    the PC is becoming more important and popular as a key enabler for these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world,

    Very true, but not the Windows PC.

    Vista may well mark the end of the Windows era.

  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:25AM (#15348263) Homepage
    Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?
  • by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:39AM (#15348314)
    >conveniently on other platforms, we will not see the death of the desktop.
    >will wait until someone posts the content of the first to see how off topic I am

    Well, because the WSJ article, appears to be about PC = msft software + generic hardware. Their main competitor to that is a Apple P.C.
    and the gates followup is about any microsoft based device that runs more than a single program. I am not sure what would be off topic, more than the gates reply.

    Since a P.C. means (to me) something that does what the Person wants, not what some big company allows it to do (be it the company I work for or the RIAA, or MSFT...). I think the term PC is what is being killed, and it has succeeded.
  • Re:gates is right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JoeBorn ( 625012 ) < minus bsd> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:41AM (#15348323) Homepage Journal
    I think there's more to it than that. Mossberg's logic is flawed for a few reasons. The iPod's success might stem partly from its integration with iTunes, but I think it's primarily just due to the job Apple did on the device itself. Apple really beat Archos and Creative. Then Microsoft was in the position of playing catch-up (where they primarily targeted the video player space) and on the mp3 player, the device firmware is still primarily done by the Mp3 manufacturers. It's really not appropriate to say that Apple beat Microsoft, since Microsoft was never in that game. Suggesting that openness and choice are not as important in the "Post PC Era" is not right. What choice and openness have users had? 3rd party software is not supported on an iPod and it's not supported on a windows portable media device either really. Even the stuff that runs Linux is not really open since it runs so much proprietary stuff that you can add 3rd party applications with "hacking it" and breaking the warranty. That's hardly open. The most significant part of the "component model" as Mossberg calls it is the fact that devices you buy under the "component model," which has only been PCs to date, can evolve. They are not static, like most CE devices. I've had computers I kept for many years and I continue to upgrade them and customize them to my purposes. As a result, they have a lot more value. Not so with the "device model" devices, ie everything else. if my DVD burner is missing a feature or has some annoying bug, it's very likely it will never get fixed. In theory, it's true that a company like Apple could take on that entire evolution of products themselves, but is it realistic for one company to take on that entire investment? The benefit of 3rd party applications is clear even on Apple's systems. Actually I think the next era will belong to linux on devices where there is no entrenched party and the playing field is more level: []
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:45AM (#15348344)
    of the PC every six months or so. It seems to have started with the idea of "dumb" terminals in the 90's - which would lead us back to servers (mainframes) which the PC got us away from in some part in the first place. From then on, that same idea has been resurrected time and again for some reason (and hidden agenda).

    Unless they annouce what will take it's place (typing on a PDA, playing games on a cellphone? I don't think so) - I'll just take the predictions as more mindless punditry and don't even need Billy to tell me such.
  • Myopic... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheIndifferentiate ( 914096 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:46AM (#15348347)
    Looking through Microsoft glasses is like trying to look through a stained glass window. The colors are pretty, but you can't make out anything clearly on the other side. The rise of the networked PC was supposed to be the end of the mainframe, but we are seeing a resurgence there. Big bad IBM isn't so bad anymore. The multimedia PC miracle that was being pushed to ignorant consumers buying 486SX PC's only started achieving its promise almost decade later. The Internet _is_ a big thing. .Net is not multiplatform for any of Microsoft's doing. Linux is not a toy OS. OSS is not a cancer. Java is not dead. NT wasn't bullet proof. XP wasn't secure. Tablet PC's aren't everywhere. And people weren't stupid enough to fall for Hailstorm. To their credit, they've done a lot of stuff, but predictions is not something I think they do well.
  • by aphaenogaster ( 884935 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:14AM (#15348433)
    The only thing standing in the way is the current monopoly on ip addresses and the crappiness of the average OS. If every person could have their home computer running as a server all of this would be different. All we need is static IPs assigned to everyone with a broadband connection (not fricking crap, IP addresses, yes they are in fact easier to remember and understand than PHONE NUMBERS!!!!). I cannot begin to count the number of times others who do not know what they are doing have envied my ability to serve them pictures, my own pages, whatever. When that happens, everybody will want a 2 processor dual core 4 gb ram dell box. You would think the computer companies could figure this out on their own. Oh the implications.... The really ironic bit is that Bill Gates POS operating system is the major obstical (right behind the phone companies) for this. The next really big move in computers will be a truly open internet and everyone running OS X, Linux, BSD, or Solaris. When that happens, everything will change.
  • I see the PC being only partially supplanted by cellphones and other mobile devices. Did tiny portable televisions supplant the living room television? No, because they're just not as nice.

    Mobile phones have largely replaced landline phones for a lot of people because they're able to do almost everything better than landline phones (portability, easy address book address) at a comparable price (an extra $20 a month or so).

    However, mobile phones and PDAs do not do everything better than traditional PCs. Their advantages are price, portability, and simplicity - all extremely important traits that will allow them to carve out more and more market share over time.

    However, for the forseeable future (10-20 years?) PCs will be several orders of magnitudes more powerful than mobile devices when it comes to storage capacity, power, display, and input devices.

    Other aspects will take even longer (25+ years?) to be bested by mobile devices due to the sheer physical limits of mobile devices - big screens and comfortable input devices. Over time, I'm sure creators mobile devices will overcome these challenges. We've all seen scifi movies where users have portable 10-megapixel displays that are the size of dimes and can be worn as an eyepiece and I'm sure bright MIT grads are working to make that a reality in some lab somewhere.
  • by Mr. Picklesworth ( 931427 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:17AM (#15348445) Homepage
    So I guess this means that I will need the following devices?

    -Music Device (downloading from wireless Internet)
    -Web browsing device (containing USB port and a really good battery to transfer data)
    -Image/Text viewing device
    -Word processor device with external keyboard and integration with web browsing device
    -Compiler device for various programming languages

    Sounds like fun. Now, what if we put all these together... wouldn't that make things so much easier and less painful?
    Hmm... what do we have now?
    Ingenious! We have a Mac!

    Yep, devices are becoming less dependent on PCs and it's a great thing since it makes them useful on the go, but the personal computer is still important to maintain common sense in this whole thing -- sometimes a device can become TOO independent. Do we really want our portable music players, eBook readers, day planners, and keyboards to all turn into proprietary PCs?
    One company doing that, in my opinion, is quite enough.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:29AM (#15348485) Journal
    Cell phones are overhyped, they are just too limited

    They're being hobbled on purpose. My phone has as much CPU and memory as most of the computers that ran Office 97 when it was released. With a dock that provided VGA and USB, it could connect to external hard drives, monitor, mouse/keyboard etc and become the core of a desktop machine.

    There's a theshold effect here. Once a computer (including PDA, phone etc) has enough grunt to do email/office/web etc, it's enough of a computer for most users. This generation of PDA/Phones has reached that threshold, and I suspect the next generation will surpass it. All they need is connectivity to external display and input devices and they're a complete solution.

    The need for the big box and grunty CPU is mostly marketing and mindset.

  • old technology (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:57AM (#15348572) Homepage Journal
    Looking at the history of technology, and the acceleration, the days of the PC, as a primary force, may be limited. It has had it 20 year run, and that is about as long as any computer mature computer technology has lasted.

    The best case in point in the mainframe. It was developed into a mature product over the mid 1900s, and then reached it peak in the late 60's. By the late 80's, the microcomputer underdog was replacing the mainframe in many applications. Sure there are still places a mainframe is used, but the PC was seen to be more flexible, and allowed a more democratic use of technology. The PC became the GPC, and the mainframe was relegated to a few verticle markets.

    Well the PC has had it's time in the sun, and we are seeing the same problems. Huge investments, not really in hardware, but in software. Single vendor lock backed by the holding for ransom of critcal company data in proprietary formats. Incredible problems on managing thousands of individual machines. THe expectations that novices can manage thier own machines. All this has proven quite unrealistic.

    Some of us will continue to use the PC for many years in the same way that some of us welcomed mainframe access until the terminal was torn away from our grasps. However, those that just want a solution, might choose other routes. Web services might be that route. For a bussiness we might have a hybrid situation of central servers and cheap smart terminals. This has been tried, but what has killed it is that MS still wants the full license fee, so there is not cost saving. We still need to pay MS, and we still need to have a computer that can run the OS, even if we need this power for nothing else.

    Some enterprising accountant will one day force the question of why does every worker bee need an individualized mid range computer, when all we really run is 2 applications that can be served over the network, email, and a browser, all of which can be run on a much cheaper machine and *nix. No reason to have MS extort money, no reason to have the BSA on our asses and in our bussinesses. I know people who worked with IBM, and they said this kind of greedy behavior is exactly what almost killed IBM, and it will be what kills the PC.

    And Dell and the others are scared. MS needs to sell upgrades of the OS. Dell needs an excuse for consumers to by new machines. If the office goes to cheaper appliances to run the few applications, instead of the GPC, then the employess will run the same stuff at home. Some who wants games might go with a PC, or a console. Other might go with Apple. But most might go witht the Wal*Mart special that will do what it needs to do, connect to the web services, and not require the $100 investment in spyware protection, the continuous security upgrades, and the annoying serial numbers. It will just work.

    Gates want the pc era to last forever because MS does not learn the lessons of history. Therefore they are going to be destined to repeat the history. In 10 years it will be as quaint to have a PC in your house as it is to have a wood burning stove.

  • by Cannelloni ( 969195 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:27AM (#15348686)
    Gates may be right in that the PC isn't going away tomorrow, but as always, it's a pain having to endure his annoying big brother attitude, patting our collective heads, telling us what's what: "The reality is a little different. The truth is..." Technology is continually moving forward, and Microsoft's thinking apparently isn't, so things will probably change rather rapidly. The truth is we don't know what things will look like. Nor does Gates or Microsoft.
  • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:35AM (#15348718)
    With a dock that provided VGA and USB, it could connect to external hard drives, monitor, mouse/keyboard etc and become the core of a desktop machine.

    That's still essentially a PC, just with a hot-swappable CPU. I don't really see that catching on; what advantage do you have in being able to pick your CPU up, walk around and take calls on it?

    It might save a little money - you can get low-end CPUs quite cheaply these days - but it would have a nasty effect on your system. Can you imagine the lag on a system that has its CPU communicate with the bus over USB?
  • by pingveno ( 708857 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:48AM (#15348770)

    You underestimate the importance of both wires and PC's.

    To expand on a previous poster's point, the PC provides an excellent platform for numerous uses, many of which share the same basic set of requirements.

    • input, either textual or spacial. Textual would be a keyboard, spacial would be a mouse.
    • detailed display of information: Whether by CRT's, LCD's, OLED's, or some sort of 3D display in the future, most computer applications require the use of some way to both visually interact with the user and allow for manipulation of graphics.
    • Physical output: Most physical output is in printers, but PC's can handle other forms of physical output, like controlling a machine to etch an image into a piece of wood.

    As for wireless networking, I don't see wired networking disappearing any time soon. Some uses that require less bandwidth, such as a laptop computer (I'm typing on one right now) can be replaced. However, Ethernet has significant advantages over wireless. As I understand it, a large room full of gamers absolutely requires Ethernet because WiFi has limitations on how many users can be connected to a wireless system (become of limitations on spectrums). Servers rooms and Internet backbones are also areas where Ethernet won't be replaced. When speed is the top priority, Ethernet wins any day. IEEE has recently announced that it is working on 802.11n, a form of wireless networking with a theoretical limit of 540 megabits per second. Okay, sounds pretty good, 540000000 bits per second. Meanwhile, Ethernet already has 10 gigabits per second - that's 10000000000 bit per second - with a work on a standard for 100 gigabits per second - that's 100000000000 bits per second. Wireless simply doesn't work in many situations.

  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @02:59AM (#15348799) Homepage
    Companies rarely choose the best product. Thin client stations have been around for ages, but companies buy PCs. They will continue to do so, and most companies will insist on Dell/Intel/Windows regardless of whether or not those are the best choices.

    The fact that client stations have been around for ages, yet are not chosen, strongly suggests they are not the best solution. One possible reason: The GP mentioned a Sun Ray, they are $299 without display. The entry level Dell Dimension B110 is $299 with a 17" monitor. More possible reasons: The UI/Front end software is already written and working, and it's DOS, OS/2, or Windows based.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:24AM (#15348887)
    Look at Google: More and more tools are becoming available that are as good as anything on windows for 95% of the users - Mail, Calender, a MS Word compatible tool ( for starters ... Wait and see. A lot of people are fed up with Gates goal of world dominance.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @03:31AM (#15348915) Journal
    The funny thing is, both Gates _and_ Wall Street are "right", but they're talking about different things.

    From the point of view of whether the PC will disappear and people will start running their corporate software on PDAs (yeah, that would be a "fun" data entry job), Gates is right. The PC isn't going anywhere any time soon.

    But I suspect that's not what Wall Street is talking about. Wall Street isn't about having a product or a steady market, but about buying and selling shares. A company which just has a steady product and a steady income isn't that interesting there, because its shares don't go up by that much, if at all. You don't make the big bucks trading those.

    What you want ideally is something with seemingly exponential growth. (Even if it can't be sustained much longer, you can probably find an idiot who can be dazzled by graphs showing that in 20 years they'll have their products in 10 billion houses and bogus formulas calculating a fair share value based on that prediction. He'll buy your shares for that price.) You want spectacular announcements driving the share values up. Etc.

    Companies just having a steady market and income are boring in that aspect. They may make enough money to stay afloat for ever, but you won't make a mint trading their shares.

    Cue investors starting to scream for measures that can help them hype the shares before they dump them, even if they mean gutting the company in the long term. E.g., firing a quarter of the employees in the name of cost savings can create a temporary surge in profits and drive shares up. So it's always a popular thing to demand. It may be unsustainable or outright fatal in the long run (see for example SGI exitting the graphics arena without even a fight back then, and where SGI is now), but in the short run it makes Wall Street very happy.

    (And I'm not even gonna go into such abnormal situations as a profitable company being outright valued a negative sum. Seriously. At one point 3Com was seen by investors as being worth _less_ than the shares it owned in Palm Inc. Divisions with real products, market and income were basically worth a negative sum. Cue idiotic investors starting to scream that 3Com should get rid of those.)

    From the Wall Street perspective the PC era is over not because the PC market is somehow disappearing, but because the exponential growth is long gone and in fact growth is slowing down. Even the upgrade cycles are slowing down. E.g., I have a 2.26 GHz workstation at work and, well, look at when Intel launched that CPU and how many years ago "Moore's Law" said a 4.5 GHz replacement should have been available... and still isn't. It used to be that a 3 year-old PC would be almost obsolete, whereas nowadays for most businesses and even most home users (hardcore gamers notwithstanding) there's very little reason to buy a new one.

    And major hype-worthy announcements are getting fewer and far in between. Vista is taking for ever to come out, and just can't be used to create the same hype as, say, Windows 95's move to 32 bits anyway.

    Even if you look at other companies than MS, well, look at the Slashdot headlines form the last year. There just isn't anything sounding like "fast growing company with killer app/hardware/whatever, poised to be worth tens of billions in the long run", so there's nothing to promise making $$$$ fast with their shares. Everywhere it's just small upgrades and incremental tweaks. What passes for a tech headline these days is something like "AMD announces DDR2 support next year".

    So I suspect that's what Wall Street means by PC era being over. They see the same turning into a steady industry as Gates sees, but from their perspective tere's a lot less to be excited about that future.
  • Re:gates is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:46AM (#15349145)

    The reality is that the cheapest form of thin client is an off the shelf PC. In most places I have worked recently, most PCs are effectivly thin clients.

    That hotel reservation on the PC on the fornt desk mentioned above is
    more than likely an illusion. The PC will only be frontending a server based application. This frontending can be very basic such as the PC running a vt100 emulation for a unix app, or it may be a very sophisticated VB or Java front end which give the illusion the whole app is running on the PC, a more recently written system will probably be web browser based.

    Only a very poorly run it department would host an application on desktop PC as it is the worst possable place to store data. Insecure, hard to backup and easy to lose.

    The only applications I see where the PC is used fully are word and powerpoint. If you have read as many corporate word documents and sat through as may presentations as I have you will realise that nobody but the author cares if these files are trashed.

  • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @05:05AM (#15349202)
    The problem with cell phones is that they depend on phone companies.
    Call phones have the potential to be the ultimate thin client, all the technoligy is there -- processing power on the handset, local storage, the ability to send/receive data to any server based system via gprs they even have unique device identifiers and the potential for stronger authentication than is possable on PC systems.

    Plus with the phone you have a payment/billing mecahnism is place, forget paypal and 16 digit credit card numbers, you just press the OK button on your phone.

    But with the exception of DoCoMo in Japan the potential is hampered by service providers who think SMS is gee whiz technoligy; who price any useful innovation out of the market (like gprs, it once cost me 3 euros to use my phones web browser to access the phone companies site to get a support number); and who are not interested in third party services where they do not collect the bulk of the money from the transaction.

  • by laplace_man ( 856560 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @05:21AM (#15349247)
    The end of PC era? Yes in a way it is true. But not by replacing PC with gadgets like some people think. It is time for more connectivity. Today computers are too powerful for tasks they are dealing with. As more and more gadgets are internet aware and speeds of local/home connections are growing it's time for some kind of central computer oriented structure.
    I see house with a powerful server and large data storage with different connectivity options. One thing that will certenly change soon is that other computers/gadgets are going to be more purpose made (Digital TV, VOIP phone,movie purchasing etc will all connect to server).And things are going this way already. Just think about game consoles etc. Personal computer as we know it today will stay but in a form of laptop or low power console with storage and applications built on a home server. When avarage speed of home connection is going to be sufficient there will be no need for home servers and we will probably have to buy some data storage space on net and decide which OS to boot on our console that day and which programs to use.I predicted this happening in 1996 and things are going this way ever since with some huge movements lately. In terms of software development Linux and open source has a bright future. Reason for this is quick adoption of new hardware structures(processors) and internet . Microsoft is aware of this situation and will do/is doing anything to keep afloat this movement but it will make a huge problems for them too keep with such a quick process and still keep the quality of their products. I hope open source movement is aware of this happening and will use it's advantages.
  • by kirk__243 ( 967535 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @05:45AM (#15349308)
    Upgradeable is a big downside - it means eventually you will have to upgrade. On the flipside, I'll never have to get a new CPU for my PS2. I'll never have to get more RAM. It will always work with any PS2 game.

    The concern with current machines is the 'add-on' - the harddrive on the Xbox 360 and the PS3, for example. These sort of options mean that eventually there may be bigger and better options. And that in turn means that you may actually need those options in order to play the newest games.

    Presto you're back at PC gaming with the constant upgrade problem.

  • Re:gates is right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @06:06AM (#15349365) Homepage
    I don't think thats the right counter argument. Its not that Hotels will start using PDAs or Phones, its that they will be using a hotel management appliance rather than a windows PC.

    Think 15" OLED touch screen with a WiFi link to a "hotel datacentre appliance" which in turn is connected to a "hotel chain service" etc. No configuration, no maintenance, low power, and you don't have to worry about the receptionist playing solitaire all day, or the summer intern installing unlicenced software.

    Most people don't need a PC they need web/email/office appliances. Most businesses don't need a PC, they need SAGE / Office / POS appliances. But one thing is clear, even though a typewriter is easier to use than a digital typewriter, and digital type writer is easier to use than a PC, the benefits each technology bought with it were large enough to justify the learning curve, even for a job as basic as typing. The real question is why do you need to buy a desktop PC that is capable of simulating flight and realtime video compression when all you want to do is knock up the local parish newsletter?

    At the moment I'd say it was economics. A letter sized LCD touch screen, with a comfortable keyboard and a simple OS that does noting but boot Abi Office and simple web browser for email and research would still cost about the same as a low end Dell - and even if it was easier to use, portable, and virus free a system it would be a hard sell to get people to pay the same for a system that does conciderably less. But once that costs approach the mindless levels of $100 will people really care? My company already spends huge ammounts of money locking down our PCs so that the vast majority of users can do little more than access word... why not buy a an appliance instead?
  • by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @07:02AM (#15349503) Homepage Journal
    With the wave of virtualization technologies starting to pop up, people have a wider variety of applications available to them than ever before. Also, the idea of web-based productivity suites and other OS-independent technologies indicate that the trend is towards becoming more and more technology independent.

    Microsoft is not acknowledging these trends and is continuing on its way as it always has. If they don't change direction soon, they will be a dinosaur.

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @10:49AM (#15350809)
    But it won't, because it'll come preinstalled on every new PC beginning with the first that's produced on Armageddon.

    Huh? Macs are going to come with Vista installed on them? Hell has frozen over.

    The thing I've noticed in myself and people around me as we get older and more mature is that we don't care for the drama anymore.

    Compare this to bf/gf relationships in high school/college to older people.

    When we were younger, it was fun to have the drama of your gf running off with your best friend, and the whole sitting on the edge of your seat thing. But when people get older, they either just don't play the drama game anymore and just "settle down" with someone, or basically give up on the whole game.

    The same is true for computing. I used to (sorta) like the drama of having the computer lock up, and reboot, and get this, get that, but guess what? I'm older now, and if my computer is less stable than the power and hardware (which should be stable as well) then its not good enough for me.

    Look at the reduction in drama in Office over the years. MS used to bank on people's willingness to play the drama game by changing their document formats after every release. Well, that changed, and its even changed more with ODF and whatnot.

    Look at the reduction in drama with webbrowsers. Netscape used to always put out betas, buggy crashy browsers, now we have Safari that just works. I click on the links and it displays the page. Safari has crashed less than 5 times on me over the years. It just works.

    Look at the desire for the lack of drama with adware/spyware/worms/viruses, etc. People are getting tired of it, and many people are buying Macs to get away from that crap. Windows users come over to my house and like the elegance and simplicity and it "just works" attitude of my Macs.

    Look at the success of the iPod. No muss no fuss. Just sync up your iTunes collection, and you can go for a jog or play it in your car, you're ready to go.

    Look at the success of [PD]VRs. They are simple to use, single purpose computers that you can easily view and record your programs while you sleep or are at work. No entering those fancy codes, no setting a start and record time, no switching of tapes. They just work.

    Look at the success of Micros and other touchscreen POS devices. Servers/bartenders can quickly and easily punch the info in them, and its done. Much simpler and easier than pencil and paper.

    In other industries, look at the reliability in cars today. It used to be that everybody had to be a mechanic and tinker with their cars all the time, but now you just change the oil and put gas in them, and they pretty much just work. Once they get to the age when they are unreliable, people buy a new one.

    What about cable/broadcast TV? When I was a kid, with standard OTA broadcasts, the stuff would break from time to time. It was so common, that they had funny little cartoons on the screen where a guy had his head inside of a TV camera with a caption something like "We are having technical difficulties, please stand by". Cable TV used to go out all the time, now it just works.

    Look at a newer technology that is still in the drama age. Cellphones. "Can you hear me now????" "Oh, your breaking up..." "Can you call me back on a land line?" Even this crap is about to end.

    Oh, wait, I just got a notification from my work telling me to change my password because its been 30 minutes since I changed it last. Gotta care about security, now don't we? That crap is going to end soon too.

  • Re:How typical! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlapier ( 739283 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#15351340)
    "these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world, from Indianapolis to Istanbul"

    As usual, the USA is the center of a world, and those exotic other places are in the corners.

    Indianapolis, altho exotic, is actually part of the USA.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard