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Will the Desktop PC Live Forever? 625

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-can-be-only-one dept.
concealment points out a rebuttal from PCWorld of the increasingly common claims that we live in a post-PC world. "It's an intriguing proposition, but don't count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you're trying to conduct business on the go, it's nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you're trying to complete serious work in an office environment. Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it's computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag."
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Will the Desktop PC Live Forever?

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  • Hybrid (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:58PM (#41600131)

    We're going to see tablets that connect to monitors and keyboards. You work on them at your desk, then move around with them like a laptop. Or at least that's what I dream of. The iPad is close but not quite what I'm looking for. I think the MS's surface might fit the bill.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:07PM (#41600235)

    Indeed, this is a rare counter-example to Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org].

  • by partyguerrilla (1597357) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:08PM (#41600255)
    Take the iMac for instance; it uses NOTHING but laptop parts.
  • by ADRA (37398) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:10PM (#41600287)

    tape killed records (effectively), CD's killed tape, InternetAudio is killing CD's
    VHS killed BETA, DVD killed VHS, VideoDisc killed nothing, BluRay clipped but hasn't kill DVD
    HD killed SD, 3D didn't kill anyone, 4K has yet to kill anything
    PC's killed the MAC classic / UNIX workstations, Laptops clipped (desktop) PC's, Netbooks killed nothing, Tablets have yet to kill anything
    really dumb cell phones clipped POTS, dumb cell phones killed really dumb cell phones and pagers, Smart phones killed dumb cell phones
    digital video cameras killed film video camera's (effectively)
    Video killed the radio star

  • KVM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by labnet (457441) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:21PM (#41600421)

    The cornerstone of of any creative work:-
      CAD
      Photo / Video Editing
      Document Creation / Coding (to a lesser extent)

    still require KVM:-
      Tactile Keyboard (touch typing requires the feeling of the edge of keys for long term typing)
      Mouse (because it more precise than fingers which occlude the display)
      Large Hi Res MultipleMonitors.

    + USB to interface with odd devices such as cameras, serial busses (RS232, RS485, CAN Bus, MIDI, etc etc), tablet inputs etc.

    So while it does not need to be a big black box under your desk, the 'Personal Computer' will be with us for a while yet, until the boffins can tap replace the KVM/IO configuration.

  • Portable + dock. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metrometro (1092237) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:23PM (#41600443)

    We'll have a phone-sized computer that can dock and provide a complete desktop experience from any compatible monitor / keyboard / charging setup. The upshot is that you can port your life around from place to place without actually carrying much hardware, with enormous rewards to the hardware firm who controls the most popular standard, because it'll be in every workplace, hotel, school...

    This has been tried and sucked. Same as tablets circa 2004. This will require some tight standards and UX design to make the transitions from mobile to desktop really stable and seamless, which points to a certain control-obsessed fruit company having a decent shot.

    Given hardware trends, we're less than 5 years away from a mass-market phone-sized desktop replacement.

  • by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:27PM (#41600479)
    I work in a technical capacity, have 2 big nerdy flatscreens, and my favorite keyboard and mouse. But it's not a desktop PC. It's a laptop in a docking station. That's how it's done in every gig I've had in recent years. I have identical setups in cubicles in two different cities and my home and only the laptop and I have to move between them.

    The #1 problem with the arrangement is the requirement for whole disk encryption on the company laptop. It really slows it down. Performance is always worse on a laptop but it's dismal with disk encryption.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:37PM (#41600615)

    At some point maybe. But I see the PC (including Laptops) to migrate dominance positions to follow the same patterns at the Mainframe (which are still not dead yet)

    1970's Mainframe was absolute King No PC to speak of.
    1980's Mainframe is king PC was a toy with a few Business applications
    1990's Mainframe is considered dieing PC's began to dominate small and midsize companies reducing the needs to big expensive mainframes. Used for Big companies.
    2000's Mainframes are still there, PC's are now indespensable and used by most businesses (the PC based servers has taken over the mainframe for most new task) Ultra Mobile Devices are appearing but mostly a toy with a few Business applications.
    2010's Mainframes are limited to a few Old Legacy Stuff (too expensive to move off) or some very detailed performance related stuff (Modern Mainframes) Mobile devices get more ingrained into the business and every day use....

    Now I see the PC moving away from the personal computer and to more of a high performance workstation usage. This will used mainly by software developers, and engineers for CAD and other high performance work. while the Mobile stuff will dominate every man Computing. As for the mainframe more old legacy systems will go away but still have a market for the really high performance needs.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:37PM (#41600627)
    If you do not control your computer, if you cannot run whatever software you feel like, if you need to ask permission to do things, then it is not a "personal computer." It does not matter if it has a keyboard, mouse, and monitor; we can make a thin client with a connection to a mainframe that has such an interface, but that would not be a PC either.
  • Re:Yes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:38PM (#41600645) Homepage

    When I was in high school you could buy a non-PC home computer for $300 and it ran circles around a kludge clone. The idea that you need a Lemming driven PC mentality in order to have sufficient economy of scale for home computing is just a Lemming fantasy.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:42PM (#41600699) Homepage

    ...and mainframes. Let us not forget mainframes that are supposed to be long dead by now.

  • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @05:00PM (#41600917) Journal

    Pretty dystopian view of things. Even if what you said comes to pass, I have faith that someone somewhere would find a way around the problem.

    I don't really see that outcome, as history teaches us that while there may be perturbations in the flow of progress, it still continues to move forward. Businesses are seeing the value of open systems - deploying more and more Linux into their network, and chaffing from the limitations imposed by 'black box' vendors - are seeing the business value of having options by casting off their vendor chains. In cloud computing - the freedom of general purpose computing is clearly a positive, as it now separates the management of hardware, from the operating system and applications - providing even more flexibility.

    While most consumers will be perfectly happy with the functionality of the tablet computer - there is still a very large minority of people who will pay for the flexibility of a general purpose desktop computer:

    1. Hardcore Gamers -- for gamers that play insanely complex simulations (FPS/Flight and combined arms combat simulations), there is no substitute for being able to build and tweak out their own game machine. Console game systems come nowhere near the capabilities of a tricked out game system; and for those who are highly competitive, having the technological edge is worth paying for.

    2. Technologists and Scientists - a number of people who program or otherwise work in depth with computers will want to have access to computer resources in real-time for their own personal projects at home. In the old days this was known as 'console access'. It better be able to run all sorts of complex simulations, crunch large amounts of numbers, and compile their latest monster program in nothing flat.

    3. Independent Developers - hobbyists and other small scale/independent developers currently can't afford the cost of server grade computers to do their development on. Given the need to provide professional grade systems, at consumer grade prices - this group desires a desktop PC that can provide the best bang for the buck. These are also the same people driving innovation in the marketplace.

    Even as small as this group is - they are worth multiple billions of dollars in revenue. If no one caters to their needs, all that revenue would be left on the table. I'm banking that doesn't happen. Given the drive that these people provide - particularly the small developers - for the economy, I don't see it being ignored for very long without serious impacts to the bottom lines of the larger companies who make their living off skimming the proceeds of that work.

    Maybe the discussion is all wrong anyway - maybe the form factor will change; maybe it won't be called a desktop (microserver maybe?) - but the functionality of a high performance workstation will exist one way or the other - and I would argue it will be an open system for practical as well as price reasons.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @05:01PM (#41600943) Journal

    That is pretty much the end of the thread right there, congrats AC.

    The only thing I would add is all the morons that are hyping "post PC" simply don't understand the consumer or the market. As someone who has been building units since the 386 and still has no problems moving systems i think I can shed some light on their misconception.

    You see people aren't "replacing" anything, they are ADDING to what they already have. What happened was the OEMs and MSFT got spoiled by a little blip in computing history called "the MHz war" where everyone pretty much had no choice but to replace all their systems every 3 years because the hardware was jumping in MHz so often and software following the hardware that a 2 year old desktop would be struggling to run the latest software. in one 4 year period I went from 600Mhz-900MHz-1.4Ghz-2.3Ghz, that's a pretty damned big leap in such a short period of time.

    But when Intel and AMD hit the thermal wall they decided to switch to cores, and that was a game changer. You see building software to take advantage of a faster single thread? not that hard, trying to build software to take advantage of multiple threads? VERY hard and there are many tasks that simply can't be broken into multiple threads. Now lets look at what I was selling on the low end FIVE years ago...Phenom I X3 or X4 with 4Gb of DDR 2 RAM and a 300-500Gb HDD. Now is they ANY task your average user does that won't run well on those specs? heck i have a customer running the latest Solidworks on Phenom I X3s and is quite happy with the performance. Even the gamers don't need to upgrade near as often, my boys and I are doing great on a couple of Phenom II X6s and a quad and with HD4850s we blow through any game we want to play and those chips are...what? 4 years old now?

    The PC isn't going anywhere, in fact I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't have at least 2 if not more. Hell my LOL customer Ms Pipkin has an Athlon triple for the kids, a Phenom II quad for her main system and a little AMD netbook for when all her family is over or she just wants to sit on her couch and chat. The problem is the OEMs got spoiled on the MHz war and didn't see that these insanely cheap triples and quads were just crazy overpowered compared to the kind of work average users like Ms Pipkin do, that's all. Hell I used to replace my system every year and a half like clockwork but now I have an X6 with 8Gb of RAM, the above HD4850, and 3Tb of hard drive space...what more could I possibly need? So X86 isn't going anywhere, my iPad and iPhone customers still have desktops and laptops, they simply use their iDevices on the couch or bed. All that is happening is that PCs won't be replaced until they die, even the gamers will be looking at only swapping every 6 or 7 years, simply because we have got insane amounts of power. this is why I supplement my business with HTPCs and home theater setups, still plenty of uses for an X86 system people haven't considered yet, you just have to show them the advantages.

  • by afgam28 (48611) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @05:19PM (#41601107)

    No, he made a useful analogy and a very accurate prediction. Apple is now the most valuable company in the world due to its post PC devices.

    Oh and in case you didn't notice, GM and Chrysler had to be bailed out because they focused to hard on trucks.

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