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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: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.
    • Re:gates is right (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JoeBorn ( 625012 )
      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
    • Yes... Gates is right, the 'commodity' PC has got lots more years left. OTOH, the drive towards 'specialized PC packages' - which include Hardware AND Software tailored to the needs of specific segments like Hotels, Hospitals etc. will gain momentum.

      The days of a truly general-purpose device from Gaming to Book-Keeping may indeed be over. To that extent, Gates seems wrong.
      • Yes... Gates is right, the 'commodity' PC has got lots more years left. OTOH, the drive towards 'specialized PC packages' - which include Hardware AND Software tailored to the needs of specific segments like Hotels, Hospitals etc. will gain momentum.

        Sounds a lot like IBM's business model...

      • For specialised tasks certainly a PC won't be used in the near future. However, I still reckon that until someone, be it Microsoft, Apple, or [Insert *nix Vendor Here] comes up with a reliable way of syncing information from anything to anything without converting formats etc. then the PC will remain if only to provide a common base.

        If I put a CD in my player in my room, I damn well want the music available on my stereo downstairs, my iPod, and on my X-Box 360. I don't want to worry about where to store it,
    • I'm not sure why no one is understanding Mossberg's piece but here goes:

      He is saying that the model of buying a white box PC or making one from commodity components might be replaced by an end-to-end solution like a Mac running OSX integrated with Ipod and other hardware. He's not saying desktop computers will go away, but maybe the generic PC built from OEM parts will.

      The user experience is better when the software vendor only needs to target a non-moving target for hardware. Also, it gives an opportunity
      • It really depends on the scenario. A PC-like device is not optimal for some applications for the same reasons that a plain PC isn't. Merely making a good integration of "workstation" and "device" software isn't going to improve things much.

        That's the traditional role of embedded systems.
    • 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.
      • by Paul Jakma ( 2677 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:38AM (#15349117) Homepage Journal
        look at ... how many years ago "Moore's Law" said a 4.5 GHz replacement should have been available

        Nit: Moore's law [] has nothing to do with clock speed, it's about transistor count. The "law" still holds btw.

      • Sorry but anyone that can take the wall street journal seriously is off their heads. Last time I browsed through it it read like a betting rag, with the unwelcome addition of numerous religious "Jesus is my CEO!" type stories in there. I kept checking the front page to make sure that this was, indeed, the infamous wall street journal.

      • To complement your insightful comment, one shouldn't forget that Gates is solidly grounded in reality while Wall Street lives in la-la-land.

        The stock market has absolutely nothing to do with real life. It's a parallel universe with it's own set of rules where the common sense you would rely on has no place. Whether a company is or isn't profitable, has interesting future perspectives, is running straight into the ground or whatever, doesn't really matter. What does is what the market thinks of it. And the b
    • Re:gates is right (Score:3, Insightful)

      by el_womble ( 779715 )
      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'
  • Shocking (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So a guy who makes his living selling a product is telling people that the product is something worth buying.

    I would have never expected such a thing.
      • I think his point is that vampire robot monkeys are poised to take over the PC market, and as soon as they do, we're going to see a proliferation of web sites dedicated to selling vampire robot monkey motorcycle parts and lard disguised as toothpaste, and that they'll eventually take over the world with an underhanded plot involving massive traffic jams and gum disease.

        I could be reading him wrong, though.
  • by acidrain69 ( 632468 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2006 @11:44PM (#15348090) Journal
    Hold on, we REALLY might come out with Vista sometime in the next 5 years.

    I do happen to agree with him, the PC isnt' going anywhere. Cell phones are overhyped, they are just too limited. But he does have an OBVIOUS bias and motivation.
    • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZoneGray ( 168419 )
      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.
    • 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.

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

        by LordLucless ( 582312 )
        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 sy
      • In the business world you won't get people doing their spreadsheets, CAD schematics, word processing and web browsing on a phone or PDA, and with laptops you're paying extra for the mobility, and businesses want to keep costs low.
      • Re:Translation: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by supersnail ( 106701 )
        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,
      • "The need for the big box and grunty CPU is mostly marketing and mindset."

        It depends on what you want to run. There is still a large amount of applications not feasible over computers at mobile/PDA power level: games like HL2/Doom 3/Far Cry, 3d rendering and raytracing, image/video processing, programming/compiling, working with databases, etc.

        If mobile devices become as powerful as computers, then of course there would be no reason for the big beige boxes. But I suspect that computers will already be as sm
        • How many people *have to* play Oblivion as *their work* ?
          (I mean, really. Not what's the average slashdotter's dream).

          Look around : in most enterprise, computer are just used for basic office work and accessing the intranet/googling information from the internet.

          A lot of enterprise (inssurance companies, etc...) are starting to use laptops as working station for their employee, because it's easier for them to move their data around with them, faster to relocate them to different office, lets them work at ho
  • Ubiquitous? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cokane ( 16304 )

    I agree with his assessment that this is a new beginning in ubiquity.

    Unfortunately, the comparison is a buzzkill. I have never really seen automobiles nor televisions as "Ubiquitous". This leads me to doubt Gates' actual understanding of the ramifications (an unleashed possibility) of this phenomenon. This will ultimately be the downfall of his "Windows everywhere" vision.

    The miniaturization is effectively going to put the PC in your pocket [figuratively]. Moreover, rather than having a "PC at home" I
    • PDA with wireless and a home server and you are done. I'd prefer a palm tx and and a dual core Mac as the home server, but that's just me.
    • "The miniaturization is effectively going to put the PC in your pocket [figuratively]."

      By figuratively I guess you mean "NOT". A cell phone or PDA device will never be a replacement for a PC unless or bodies shrink to fit. Even in that case we'd still be lugging around a big device relatively.

      This is why convergence has been talked about for a decade but still hasn't been achieved: the human body is part of the problem domain and no electronics or software technology can change that fact.
  • 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
    • >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
      • I think the term PC is what is being killed, and it has succeeded.

        I agree, but this is not solely the doing of the software companies. It is also the fault of the user base, for not taking the initiative to make their computer "personal", which means substantially more than changing their desktop background.

        There is a difference between a tool and an appliance, a large part of which is whether the thing is used actively or passively. Toasters and dishwashers are appliances because they perform their

    • .....What happens when mp3 files no longer play on the next gen iPod....

      What advantage would there be to Apple to do that? The vast majority of music on most people's iPods is ripped from their own and friend's CDs. Those are usually mp3 or maybe AAC format without DRM. I doubt that there are very many ipod users who can afford thousands of $$$ worth of downloaded music to fill up their ipods. I know for sure that I don't. Illegal downloads are still vastly more popular than all legal services put together.
  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <> 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....
  • 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.

    • Vista may well mark the end of the Windows era.

      Finally, I've been waiting so long for the move to OS/2.
    • Vista may well mark the end of the Windows era.

      Your Linux fanboism is showing. Might want to hike up those pants.

      Microsoft isn't going anywhere, even if an operating system happens to bomb. But it won't, because it'll come preinstalled on every new PC beginning with the first that's produced on Armageddon.
      • 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 whol
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:10AM (#15348207) Journal
    But why should we trust the predictions from a guy, with more money than god, who can't even get his own company to produce product on schedule?

    Yep, slamming Bill is often a passtime, but I have to admit, he's making this one easy... so easy, its not even fun really. If Bill or MS tells me that the sky is falling, I logically realize that we have 2-3 more years before it begins to fall, and there will be several false alerts before it actually does fall.

    Wow, just wow
  • by Godji ( 957148 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:15AM (#15348223) Homepage
    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. Sir William Gates should be awakened to the realization that as an approximately spherical object, our planet does not have corners!

    Eh, but don't get me wrong, I'm used to it. After all in the room analogy, the USA must be the Windows (TM) of the world, and that's a lot worse than being in a corner ;)
    • by Jim_Callahan ( 831353 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:26AM (#15348267)
      Or, if you want to use the calculus explanation, it has an infinite number of corners whose shape diverges only infinitessimally form the planar.

      Assuming, of course, that the world is perfectly spherical, which it isn't. Realistically, anyplace with a pointy hill or pyramidal landmark is a corner of the world.

      This moment in taking too literally a reply to a comment that the parent took too personally has been brought to you by James Callahan. Thank you, I'll be here all week.
  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:25AM (#15348263) Homepage
    Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @12:27AM (#15348273) Journal
    The PC era can be declared over, if and when:

    1. Windows Vista - Service Pack 2 is released.
    2. Microsoft releases a complete OS under "GPL 3.0 or later".
    3. Software patents are declared illegal in the US.
    4. Chinese firm releases complete PC - hardware and software, fully developed and built in-house - at under $100.
    5. SCO defeats IBM and buys RedHat.
    6. nVidia releases GPL drivers.
    7. Symantec withdraws from security market, declaring Vista is 'unbreakable'.
    8. DRM is declared illegal, DMCA revoked, and the RIAA dissolved.
    9. Hurd 1.0 is available for download.
    10. No more chairs in the Chair-Man's Office at Redmond.

  • 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.
    • For once I agree with Gates. The PC is not dead yet. Of course, he had his fun back in the nineties when Microsoft would have their hench-pundits predict the death of Apple and Unix every few months. That wasn't really happening either. Just guerrilla marketing tactics.
  • 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.
  • What PC? (Score:2, Informative)

    What PC is the author talking about?

    My Personal Computer could be pretty small, but it's still a personal computer.

    In fact, I am hoping to eventually give my very small PC the capabilities of a cell phone... which brings up the question which is the purpose for this rambling thread that I've made:
    What is better? A cell phone attempting to be a PC, or a PC attempting to be a cell phone?
    I suppose that question calls for an analogy: Remember that dumb movie called Armaggedon? Wouldn't it have been more int

    • Wouldn't it have been more intelligent to send astronauts trained to be oil drillers to the moon to deal with the asteroid instead of sending up oil drillers trained to be astronauts?

      Don't knock it. It worked. :)

  • 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 h
  • 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 Allnighterking ( 74212 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @01:26AM (#15348469) Homepage
    ...and that is the Windows concept of "Bringing the main frame to the desktop". In the windows concept of development the objective was to allow everyone to have their own personal mainframe. All applications run and are installed locally. The idea of a distributed computer, (as apposed to distributed computing, altogether different subject), is a totally foreign idea to windows. I can't for example, run an instance of word which displays on my screen, from another computer without bringing the entire desktop, and all of it's bells and whistles along with it.

    The era of "The network is the computer" though long possible in *nix, is just now being forced upon, and in many ways leaving Windows behind. With a *nix box (and Apple runs *nix with a hobbled desktop, looks good though) you can actually have a display in location A and apps running on B C D E F and the data stored on a SAN or NAS system in location G.

    IMHO over the next few years you are going to see an increase in powerful, portable, displays that access applications and data from multiple locations as if it was all held in the palm of your hand. These systems will have little if any OS or storage locale to the device. Those orgainizations still tied to the old model of immobile all in one devices, or pay by the installation software model, will slowly at first, and eventually significantly loose market share. Many will go the way of Harvard Graphics.

    Already if you are outside the US you are seeing the beginning of what I'm refering to. Many so called "3rd world" Nations have little if any land line setup for telephones. But everyone has a cell. In more advanced countries outside of the US people are in large numbers giving up their home phone and just using cellular systems. Already a large chunk of the bay area is free wireless, or soon to be free (legitimate free not war driving style) San Jose the heart of the Silicon Valley will the the last to go since it's the largest city and the one with the most attention from ComCast and AT&T.

    The era of the PC gone. Not really. However the era of the putty colored tower with a 2 ton monitor, is IMHO already going bye bye. As time and the advantages of mobility become something bean counters can count. Then increased interoperability will be the order of the day. No longer will just the exchange of data be enough. The sharing of the means to manipulate the data will also be required. Sooner or later it will be learned that contolling the code is a waste of time and money. Controlling the API is where it's at.
    • "The era of "The network is the computer" though long possible in *nix, is just now being forced upon, and in many ways leaving Windows behind. With a *nix box (and Apple runs *nix with a hobbled desktop, looks good though) you can actually have a display in location A and apps running on B C D E F and the data stored on a SAN or NAS system in location G."

      The scenario you describe doesn't really match with the phrase "the network is the computer". In any case, just because you can do something doesn't mean
      • Actually it does. What else would be the meaning of the network is the computer. Actually the most comfortable scenario for the future is that everybody will have their computing and storage devices. The computing devices could be watches or clothes in the distant future, and mobiles in the near future. The storage devices can be merged with the computing devices and be flash devices in the near future. The display will be a sort of goggles or maybe embedded inside the brains (for the people who don't mind)
  • Article synopsis:



    My name is Bill Gates. I might very well watch my huge multi-billion dollar empire fade into obscurity and impotence if,

    a) The PC era is over
    b) You believe the PC era is over

    In light of these facts, I have an announcement:

    "The PC era isn't over."

    You can stop holding your breath now. Carry on!

    PS I'm not saying he isn't right, but come on........
  • 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.

  • In relation to what the article says about end-to-end production.

    Yes, Apple produces a lot of products that work well together. Ipod works with Itunes works on Apple computer which runs I[insert name] software.

    The problem is when the user needs something slightly different than what they offer. The one little application that only runs on windows is enough to stop people from buying anything apple related.

    Apple's boot camp aims to fix this problem, but it clearly states on their web site that they don't s
  • While I will never part with my own personal computer, I know many people who are happy to work off whichever terminal is around - think gmail, flickr... with an on-line word processor and somewhere (gmail?) to store your files, many people are happy to use whichever computer is nearest and connected to the internet.

    I don't think anyone is going to start selling less-powerful machines, but net cafes and other access points might as well have dumb terminals, all thats need is to be able to access and use the
  • 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.
  • by Maljin Jolt ( 746064 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @04:33AM (#15349104) Journal
    I strongly disagree with Mr. Gates. I would gladly replace all of 22 PCs in my kitchen for a mainframe.
  • to start some trolling, flaming and .... whatever.

    If article proves something it is that WSJ is full of it as ever.
  • So, what's it to be, Billy Boy? Head west from Indianapolis, in which case you're excluding the eastern USA and all of Europe and Scandanavia? Or head east, in which case you're excluding all of Asia, India, Africa and the western USA? For the sake of the neat bit of alliteration, one can't help thinking that the geographic ignorance of the stereotypical USA is reinforced...


  • 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
  • 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.

  • The truth is that the model which has fueled the incredible popularity and affordability of the PC will continue ...

    So now Bill Gates can predict the future? Geeze, the guy really *is* drinking his own coolaid.
  • They just drop into the background and out of the public consciousness.

    There are probably more datacenters running mainframes today than there were in 1970, but they are part of a technology "ecosystem" in which most of the "biomass" is in PCs. The move towards portable special purpose devices such as iPods and possibly web pads, the proverbial Internet toasters will be similar. Everyone will have a PC, maybe even more PCs than they have now. While it will play a hub role in their IT use, it won't be the
  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @09:25AM (#15350146) Homepage Journal
    There are a few things that have changed over the years and I think that's why the end of the PC is being heralded.

    The key things are wireless networking, remote desktop access, osx86, linux and VMware.

    And the thing which is bringing windows downfall security and DRM.

    firstly let me start by saying how I am writing this. Remotely from a dodgy ole laptop to a 3Ghz XP Pro server (which supports 3 concurrent users).

    My laptop provides a mouse screen and keyboard which i can physically use anywhere on my LAN The XP Server gives the grunt that this laptop hasn't got for cpu intensive tasks. without me having to sit near the thing.

    I enjoy that freedom i resent having to put a cd or dvd in the server (usually to burn something).

    now i also have a linux box also accessed remotely which runs my little webserver and lets me explore linux as an alternative (right now I'm primarily a windows user).

    I have 2 big crt monitors hooked upto the xp pro system but they are rarely on because i don't work directly with it.

    Work uses cytrix (So basically most pc's are glorified terminals).

    now I placed an order last night for an inexpensive laptop which is capable of running osx86. When i get it the first osx86 program will be a remote desktop client so i can keep windows compatability.

    I have big hopes of osX86 and one of them is to retire my windows boxen to a cupboard somewhere. To be used when i need cpu muscle and windows compatability.

    now to any Linux OS developers out there i need a better remote desktop solution for linux. because the way i see it is that a linux desktop shouldn't be expected to run locally by default and I want sound from my linux desktop to where i am working.

    Vmware may actually help me consolidate the operating systems i run to a single physical x86 with grunt and all access from a light weight use anywhere laptop.

    Pda /pdaphone
    they are nice when your on the go you can take your music with you write letters (slowly) video random events navigate your car. but the screen is too small to replace a pc in most circumstances. most aps are designed with a larger screen in mind so remoting from a pda is a pain.

    Windows Vista- why for me it fails.
    1)I do not want my rights to be managed. In theory it is supposed to bring security to windows (at last) which is a plus but in reality having my freedom taken away my rights managed is not something I am willing to trade off.

    The Future - from my viewpoint
    it has to be lightweight laptop systems running OSX86 or Linux with a home/work server supplying grunt and storage capacity when its needed.

    Working directly on a Desktop or Tower system seems so clunky to me. its like a throwback to the mainframe systems of old. The laptop gives you the freedom to work anywhere and with any os you choose.

    So maybe its true the PC ERA is coming to an end.

    A local household server running Linux and a widescreen laptop with a processor that doesnt burn too much power ( my new laptop offers 4- 4.5 hours battery life.) this seems like a good way of working to me, what do you think?


You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...