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Hardware Technology

The Desktop Is Dead, Long Live the Desktop! 453

theodp writes "'The desktop or laptop is now in decline,' writes John Sall, 'squeezed from one side by mobile platforms and from the other side by the cloud. As a developer of desktop software [by choice not necessity], I believe it is time to address the challenges to our viability. Is software for the desktop PC now the living dead, or zombieware.' While conceding there's some truth to truisms about the death of the desktop, Sall believes there's still life in the old desktop dog, 'We live in a world of computing where dreams come true,' Sall concludes. 'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses. But at each step along the way, some applications find their best home – and other applications as well as new applications find the more convenient and smaller home better...So let's keep our desktops and laptops, our PCs and Macs. They are amazingly good at what they do.'"
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The Desktop Is Dead, Long Live the Desktop!

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  • make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:11AM (#45593785)

    Go ahead. Fire up SolidWorks on your pad or phone. Or AutoCAD. Go On. I dare you.
    Now tell me the desktop is dead.

    • by BreakBad ( 2955249 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:36AM (#45593999)

      Desktop is dead (except for India) because all your SolidWorks and AutoCAD work has been outsourced. Enjoy angry birds on your smart glasses. Remember, buy Chinese!

      • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:48AM (#45594115)
        Even outsourced jobs require a desktop. Just they won't be sold in your first world market. Aaaanyway I don't see the desktop as dying, but I do see it moving into a niche for power users, developers and gamers.
        • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by geeper ( 883542 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:19AM (#45594479)
          I agree...developer and gamers. And finance, engineering, graphic design, manufacturing/planning, the list goes on and on.
        • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:24AM (#45594537)

          power users, developers and gamers: so the majority of users then? I think most people play games occasionally. It might be going the way of the cable package: you might hardly ever watch anything on your tv anymore (at least not something that isn't PVR'd, hulu, etc other equally available from the net content) but you won't cut the cord because well you might ... sometime + the occasional Star Trek marathon or sporting event. Similarly writing your resume, doing your taxes etc on a cell phone would suck so you need to have a desktop around even if you rarely use it.

          I think a more realistic scenario will be that tablets/phones get powerful enough that people use docking stations when they need a bigger form factor, but to me that is still a desktop (not sure what the official categorization is) just like having a Mac Mini attached to a 30" screen and full sized keyboard would be a desktop. My guess would be that most corporate devices remain laptop desktop form factors for the next 10+ years. If they aren't portable they aren't getting lost/broken at bars. The hardware will remain likely cheaper but at worst the same cost as a smaller form factor, and likely will have a longer useable life (there is a cost to miniaturization and it is usually both performance and hardware faults both which lead to more rapid hardware churn).

          • and that can happen if desktops die and people move to phones / tablets.

            Also other stuff like un removable batterys and fixed storage (apple systems needs at least an SD slot) and USB.

            • And misc damage due to dropped devices, and cracked screens, and unrepairable power adapters, shitty sound, no real expansion capabilities, and high cost all mean that these devices are not capable of replacing the desktop.

          • power users, developers and gamers: so the majority of users then? I think most people play games occasionally.

            I think by "gamers" the GP means "people for whom games are important enough to spend extra money on performance gear.", not "people who play Candy Crush Saga and Farmville".

        • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @01:33PM (#45597139)

          Yup, gamers. My son was all about the portability of a laptop, but he finally gave up and went back to big iron because the desktop box was easier to upgrade and repair, had more RAM and HD capacity, and (most important to him) far better framerates on his FPS games.

          I keep a laptop in a travel bag for the rare occasion I need to compute on the move, but all my important work is on the desktop box. I'll give it up when they pry the GeForce card from my cold, dead hands...

          • by tmlrv ( 129747 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:19PM (#45597755)

            Yup, gamers. My son was all about the portability of a laptop, but he finally gave up and went back to big iron because the desktop box was easier to upgrade and repair, had more RAM and HD capacity, and (most important to him) far better framerates on his FPS games.

            Man, I am getting old. I am thoroughly perplexed when someone refers to a desktop PC as "big iron".

      • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:54AM (#45594163) Homepage


        The only people who can migrate are the people who only do Facebook/Youtube.

        Reason: People who do any kind of job/work need a screen bigger than 10".

        The PC market will stabilize again once those people are out of the way.

        • Re:make my day... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:43AM (#45594735)
          I blame the design of the Windows 8 UI.

          Thanks for turning my $1000 gaming computer into a useless tablet.
          • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

            My computer is still pretty useful with Windows 8.1.

            I really don't know any tablets that have deduplication, autotiering, online checking of filesystems for damaged indexes or image based backups, or ZFS-like dynamic volume storage (Windows Storage Spaces is useful in that regard.)

            Deduplication is nice. I have a script which moves the files copied from the file server out of the shared drive and into another part. That way, if Cryptolocker stings the machine, it might nail a day's worth of files, but it w

        • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @01:16PM (#45596891) Homepage

          The only people who can migrate are the people who only do Facebook/Youtube

          . . . right, and most of the ppl on Youtube are suffering issues with buffering and stuttering (DASH) because Google has changed the player, and with Facebook - well - it's getting it's own issues - (privacy, and etc).

          I really believe that; aside from the utility of using services like google drive and drop box, that this whole tablet/cloud thing has been just a fad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jbeaupre ( 752124 )

        You'll laugh, but I'm doing CAD work in the US ... outsourced from China.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:37AM (#45594003)

      Exactly. For content consumption, small and mobile devices are very convenient. For quick interactions, they're OK. For serious content creation, they are just not the right tool for the job.

      The trouble for the PC vendors is that for most serious content creation, desktops and laptops were already powerful enough a few years ago. Only those who really need local power, like creative media or CAD types in business or gamers at home, are interested in buying newer and more powerful machines often any more. For everyone else, the desktop isn't dead, it's just a mature platform and they already have it.

      • Yes, this is the biggest issue. Mobile devices increase 50% in speed each year, while desktops are meeting everybody's needs so there's no reason to upgrade. My home laptop is four years old and showing no slowdown that impacts me. Work laptop is a little diff, because they always buy the cheapest hardware possible.

        There are some task that are right for my computer! some tasks hath at are right for my tablet, some tasks that are right for my smartphone, NAND some tasks that are right for my game console. Th

      • Mobile devics are not better for all consumption. General internet browsing is still much better on the laptop/desktop because of screen size and fine manipulation. I only browse on my phone when I am out and need to browse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Exactly. For content consumption, small and mobile devices are very convenient.

        Who exactly spends all of their time simply "consuming" on these devices? It's virtually impossible to spend more than a day online without feeling the urge to add to the conversation, and all iDink devices and touchscreen interfaces do is get in the way of that (2-way) conversation with the outside world.

        As to the consumption itself, as far as I can see, everything is clunkier on touch device. Everything. Designers are having to

        • I simply cannot accept the proposition that people are -- willingly -- going to accept a future of either creation or consuption on these restricted devices.

          If you mean exclusively on small factor touchscreens, sure, I agree. An iPad isn't going to replace a dedicated home cinema room any time soon, or a hardcore gamer's custom rig, or a CAD workstation at the office.

          But for routine use, that ship already sailed. Smartphones are ubiquitous when people are out. Tablets are becoming ubiquitous around the house, for the kind of household that used to have multiple PCs or laptops instead. Bazillions of people are quite happy sending e-mails, checking Facebook, or c

        • As to the consumption itself, as far as I can see, everything is clunkier on touch device. Everything.

          Clearly, you've never tried to type on a laptop while carrying it around in your other hand.

    • Assuming bandwidth is available for both spooling print/plotters jobs and RDP (RemoteFX technologies used too), you could just run thin-clients throughout the office.

    • ...or type a paragraph.
    • Workstations (Score:4, Insightful)

      by emblemparade ( 774653 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:08AM (#45595073)

      You're right: desktops will become workstations (if they're not that already). They will continue to be very powerful devices suited for very particular work, that either requries a lot of computational power or is ergonomically sutied for a desk-and-chair.

      Until quite recently, desktops were multipurpose devices: they did all that but also browsed the web, did word processing, and other lighter tasks. They'll still be able to do that, for sure, it's just that unless people need the workstation stuff, there are simply better devices than desktops.

      The desktop isn't dying, it's just narrowing its mission.

  • Every year (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twocows ( 1216842 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:11AM (#45593791)
    Every year we hear about how the desktop is dying and every year it doesn't. When will these idiots realize that desktop PCs are a niche that's not going to go away? It might shrink, especially compared to other forms of computing. But reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by twocows ( 1216842 )
      I guess I should finish the summary. What he seems to be saying is more or less fair and basically what I said. My bad.
    • Keep your crappy little tablet games. For real games, I want a beefy PC, thank you very much!

    • Every year we hear about how the desktop is dying and every year it doesn't. When will these idiots realize that desktop PCs are a niche that's not going to go away? It might shrink, especially compared to other forms of computing. But reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

      Even Apple, when announcing the iPad, accepted that there would always be a need for a desktop PC:

      When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms. Cars became more popular as

  • but but.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:14AM (#45593801)

    The Desktop Is Dead

    Isn't 2014 going to be the year of the Linux desktop?

    • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:15AM (#45593817)

      Turns out that Tux is a zombie process

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      Maybe it will cease to be a fraction of the installed Vista user-base [netmarketshare.com]... Maybe.

    • Re:but but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plankrwf ( 929870 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:13AM (#45594409)

      Have mod points, but will post instead:
      Although your '...year of the Linux desktop' is a very old statement, my observation is that now (end of 2013/start of 2014) is indeed the year of the Linux desktop.
      Just as last year, with the Nexus 7, it was the first time I felt comfortable giving a "non-iPad" tablet to my father, this time
      when their XP laptop died, it was the first time I actually considered giving them a laptop with Linux on it. So I searched for that lone laptop which still had Windows 7 (and hence: no UEFI problems), installed Linux Mint on it (for the cureous: Mint Cinnamon, Petra, RC at the time), and let them loose with it. And so far they are really happy with it.
      The reasons I could do this were:
      - Linux Mint is a simpler experience then Windows 8(.1) and looks close enough to XP;
      - Libre office (writer, calc) look close enough to the office version they had previously.
      It is/was the first time I knew that giving them Linux + Libre office was a better choice then giving them Windows 8(.1) and the ribbon...

      And this from someone that hasn't really used Linux since those early years when you downloaded Slackware on 40+ floppy's, and who uses a (Windows 7, fortunately) laptop from my employer.

  • Developing software (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:15AM (#45593811)
    For the web, desktop, tablet or phone, PCs or Macs are where development happens. We often need more power than a laptop can handle, so we use quite a few desktop PCs. For the general public, tablets may fill the need, but for development there will always be desktops.
    • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:19AM (#45593845)

      nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now. Apart from the small screen (which can be good as a secondary thing to run your email or whatnot on), the laptop has as much power as your desktop.

      I have a i7 laptop with 8 Gb RAM on it - that's plenty for development and running the dev environment, including db and services. If I need more than that, I'll be running the code on a server box, not a desktop.

      Desktops are just cheaper, that's their only advantage nowadays.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        LOL. Let me know how long your laptop can sustain my desktop clock frequencies before throttling. It may have the same chip, but it sure doesn't have the same POWER.

        • by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:32AM (#45593961)
          Unless you are stress testing the latest and greatest PC games, very little development in my experience requires sustained high CPU frequencies. A lot of development requires little more than Notepad++ which I've got some decade old laptops that do quite well with that.

          The primary limitation I've found at work has unfortunately been memory due to someone deciding 2Gb was just fine for a Win 7 machine. When running half of the corporate apps I'm already into virtual memory... ug. This of course has nothing to do with the power of laptops, just the unfortunate inability to get anyone to plug an additional $25 memory chip in my laptop.
          • Unless you are stress testing the latest and greatest PC games, very little development in my experience requires sustained high CPU frequencies. A lot of development requires little more than Notepad++ which I've got some decade old laptops that do quite well with that.

            Are you talking about web development? Compiling moderate to large c/c++ projects will send the fans into non-stop high gear and turn a laptop into a hot plate. Not fun.

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          Or the same ability to deal with all the heat that comes with that power. Anyway 8GB... I have that in video memory alone. System memory is 64GB. And yes I use it.
      • nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now.

        You forgot to add the "except for gaming" at the end of that.

        • You forgot to add the "including for gaming" at the end of that.

          FTFY, I haven't come across a game I wanted to play yet that my laptop couldn't handle. Sure you may still get marginally better performance out of a desktop, but a modern laptop is going to be good enough. After all most games now are targeted at console hardware, which is seriously lacking when compared to a laptop from just four years ago.

        • No, they are good enough even for gaming. It is true that i can't activate every little graphic options and set them to the max. But my 3 year old laptop is good enough to be able to play any recent game.

          Now if you are one of these player that think that 160fps is not enough and they need mooooaaar power even if their screen can display only 50-60 fps. In that case, even your desktop should not be good enough.

      • nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now. Apart from the small screen (which can be good as a secondary thing to run your email or whatnot on), the laptop has as much power as your desktop.

        An average laptop might have as much processing power and RAM and disk space as an average desktop, but the upper bound on a desktop is still far, far higher. To pick an example someone mentioned earlier, you can't get a lot of laptops with dual fast processors and 64+GB of RAM, which is a good but realistic specification for a professional CAD workstation. If you're rendering video or working with high quality audio, you might be thankful for a local RAID array with a few TB of capacity (as well as the lar

      • nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now

        Let me know when I can run three 27" monitors from a laptop.

        The thing that makes laptops useful as laptops is what makes them suck in any other context. It's a rats' nest of cables sticking out the side of my MBP, and it takes up too much desk to make hiding in the corner viable. And besides, those pukes at Apple stopped to designing them to work with the lid closed.

    • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:23AM (#45593877)
      Not to mention but managing all those virtual servers, real spreadsheets, serious management software - it's all desktop and 2-3 monitors minimum. Let everyone have their 'gadgets'. Serious PC/Mac users will remain there and leverage the smaller components for remote access or travel work. Productivity on a real system though is at least 150% higher.
      • The main thing is tables (including smart phone style devices) are primarily output, not input devices. They have input capabilities but it is extremely limited. A tablet setup as an extended screen to a desktop or just for use of reference materials in support of a desktop is extremely powerful. A tablet on its own is almost worthless (to me anyway) for development.
    • The concern I have is when you are developing on the same device that consumers are using, there is a good chance that what works on your hardware works on theirs and the costs of your development hardware are kept lower by the number of poeple using it. When everyone is using tables and developers are on desktop, the consumer devices may now differe drastically from development devices leading to compatibility issues, as well as development machines are now expensive speciality devices... hopefully it nev
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:39AM (#45594033)

      Tablets tend to suck for creation. There are limited exceptions, but for the most part a mouse n' keyboard, and a screen without your fingers in the way, are what you want for creating things. This includes software, of course, but also more mundane business things like financial spreadsheets, e-mails, and so on. It applies to other creative pursuits such as writing, video editing, and so on.

      Basically tablets are reasonably good if you want to consume content. You can read a book, surf the web, etc with ease on a tablet. However when you start to talk creation, they are not as good. They can do in a pinch, but much better to have a real keyboard and larger screen.

      What we are actually seeing is not desktops and laptops "dying" but rather maturing. The market is more or less done growing. However that doesn't mean it is going away. The two states are not "growth" and "death". Rather it can be stable.

      We've already seen this in things like mainframes. Desktops didn't kill off mainframes. You can still buy them, and people do. There are more of them now then when there were only mainframes. However it is a mature market. There aren't many organizations that want one, and you don't replace them that often. So there's no growth, but it isn't dead by any means.

      That's what is happening with desktops. Go in to a business, have a look around, they have not tossed all their computers and started playing with tablets and phones. There is a computer on every desk practically. However, as noted, there is a computer on every desk. They've got their computers. They buy for replacement now largely, not to increase the numbers.

      The only people who think desktops/laptops are going to "die" are either kids who just play on their smart phone and don't do productive work with a computer, or idiot tech journalists.

    • "They" are always predicting the death of PC gaming too.

  • by servo335 ( 853111 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:15AM (#45593815) Homepage
    I can say as a computer repair / consultant shop the desktop/laptop is not dead. people don't like windows 8 and when i tell them i can still get windows 7 they are ecstatic and want me to build them from scratch a computer!
    • by Lester67 ( 218549 ) <ratels72082.mypacks@net> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:44AM (#45594081)

      For some reason that is the 800lb gorilla in the room... Windows 8 did more to damage the Laptop and Desktop market than anyone is willing to give them credit for. (8 and 8.1 are actually not too bad... ON A TABLET.)

      • After using 8 for probably six months now I'm not really sure what the angst over 8 is all about. I don't like the tiled metro interface but I haven't been forced to look at it much since I got my system setup. When I login I see the tiled start screen flash by for about half a second before it goes straight to my familiar desktop, and that is without any addons or 8.1.

        My only current complaints are the obfuscation of controls and functions like powering down the PC. Also the lack of context menu when using

  • Something with a decent HID will always be around. It might be a tablet with a keyboard and mouse but it will always be around. The platform to consume content will relentlessly evolve but content creation has a pretty standard set of requirements for those humans that do it. This paradigm will drive the PC market to the niche where it might belong. Stuff that is truly creative and commercially viable generally isn't produced on an ipad and uploaded to youtube for your 31337 friends to fawn over. Yes,

  • personal computing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:18AM (#45593835) Homepage Journal

    The personal computer is not a form factor, it is a philosophy.
    No dependence on centralized service, computing done by the user, for the user.
    Unless done properly, cloud and toys (smartphones, tablets) are a regression into the mainframe era. Give your toys enough control and you'll see.

    • by gx5000 ( 863863 )
      They already HAVE given their toys so much control over their lives it's frightening.... I probably won't live long enough to see the cloud fail, and get shredded to bits over security, performance and privacy concerns but I hate it when I remember who runs the show, the money and corps, not the technologists that see the train heading for the brick wall. Technology might have been brought forth to make our lives better, it was indeed funded to create more wealth for the yada yada yada.... I need to retire
    • by Jahta ( 1141213 )

      The personal computer is not a form factor, it is a philosophy. No dependence on centralized service, computing done by the user, for the user. Unless done properly, cloud and toys (smartphones, tablets) are a regression into the mainframe era. Give your toys enough control and you'll see.

      Mod parent up! These days I use a laptop rather than a desktop; it's just more convenient. But it's still my personal computer. I'm not dependent cloud services, or even in some cases even a network connection, to do useful work; and I control the software and data on my device.

  • The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses

    Each of those form factors has a different balance of convenience and functionality, with the smaller device being more convenient but also more limited. As the first post pointed out, you're not going to be running CAD software on Google Glass anytime soon. You might run a client interface to a server, but not the CAD software itself.

    People like convenience most of the time, so we're quick to get smartphones and tablets, because they offer convenience doing the tasks we do most often. For bigger jobs than

  • I know I'm crazy but I still think we need to separate the processor from the I/O devices (well I supposed a desktop kind of does that but...). I've always envisioned two types of processors, mobile (such as a smartphone, small but not as powerful) and non mobile (very powerful but does not fit in your pocket). Then all I/O uses wireless communications to the processor device.

    So now you use your desktop from anywhere in the house with a wireless keyboard/mouse and wireless monitor. You want a little mor
  • The reason desktop sales has slumped isn't just because of competing devices and the cloud. It's because there hasn't been a compelling reason to get new hardware for a long time. The reason is simple: game consoles. In the last 13 years, PC games have taken a very different course than the previous 20 years. For the better part of the 80s and 90s PC games were targeted solely at PCs. For the last 13 years game publishers have targeted Xbox[360], Playstation[2/3], as well as the PC with the very same titles
    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:21AM (#45594499) Homepage

      I think it's more than just PC gamers, but you're right about the power of the desktop and laptop PC being a limiting factor. I have a laptop that I got three years ago and it can still run every program I need it to run. Maybe I'll need to upgrade in a year or two, but that's in the far future as far as the computer market is concerned.

      Contrast this with the early 90's when you'd get a new computer only to have a new, more powerful one come out and make you want to get it. Computers were the hot commodity and everyone wanted the latest and greatest. Now, they are seen as useful tools which are so powerful that even the low end products can handle the tasks most people need them for.

      Add into the mix the fact that smartphones and tablets can handle the tasks that many people previously needed a computer for (e-mail, updating Facebook, etc) and it's easy to see why desktop computer manufacturers are seeing stalled sales. The market isn't dying, but it is reaching an equilibrium much lower than it was in its heyday.

  • I should be able to have my desktop use my phone and a password to do a 2-factor authentication, and transparently share with my pad, and with the older pad that lives in my office. I should be able to have one reference book open on the pad, a second open on the old pad, and a notepad program and open office open on my desktop, and cut and paste from any of them.

    The author of the article does stats, while I write books and programs. I should have some serious support from all my hardware vendors for wha

  • by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:28AM (#45593929)
    To develop the apps that run on smartphones, tablets, smart watches, HMDs, etc.

    Desktop gaming beats mobile gaming and console gaming every day of the week.

    Oh yeah, and what tabet are you going to use to download those 10 seasons in 1080p of your favorite TV series.

    Yes, those use cases are incredily niche uses by today's standards, but they'll keep desktops alive for the foreseeable future.
  • by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:30AM (#45593949)

    There is no true death here: only an inevitable and natural partitioning of platforms based on target usage. Desktop PCs had a good run (three decades) as a platform for both creation and consumption, but the world has changed. Phones and tablets are better-suited for consumption (literature, movies, music, games, web-browsing), but PCs are still the best practical platform for creation (writing, editing, composition, game development, web-site building). And yet this is all pretty obvious. Of course PC market-share will go down, way down, as it must. But the sensationalist media can't help but to bandy about terms like "living dead" when describing the desktop PC industry because - as any MBA is more than happy to tell us - in business, lack of growth equals death.

    It's as though they have seized upon a mercantilist mentality of a world divided exclusively into winners and losers. World ain't like that.

    • Also content creation is changing. Writing papers is best done on a desktop or laptop. Tweeting and Instagram photos are slow and cumbersome on a desktop or laptop.
  • by DEFFENDER ( 469046 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:32AM (#45593963)

    Haven't you seen the Star Citizen promo? Here. [vimeo.com] The PC and it's capabilities are not dead to the tune of $33.7 Million USD and counting.

    Just because a newer or different technology sells well and meets one segments needs (business) doesn't mean that the old one will die. I mean seriously, how many of you are still running a tape library out there?

  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:36AM (#45593997) Homepage Journal

    The desktop isn't even pretending to die.

    Yes, it's not the big hot thing anymore. Laptops took over the hot spot a few years ago, but for the purpose of software, they're generally the same as desktops. Now tablets and phones are cutting into the laptop market.

    But the markets are huge. Even a 90% decline would still leave a substantial market with opportunities for new products. It's only a problem for companies with established dominant products. If you are depending on upgrade or support sales to an established base, then a declining base is a problem.

    The comparison to mainframe may be particularly apt. While everyone likes to talk about how the mainframe was replaced my mini computers and later desktops, this isn't really true. There are lots of companies with large mainframe deployments. It's still a multi-billion dollar industry.

  • While in the future you will be able to have a tablet that is like 10x faster than a current desktop, and it offers enough power to work on basically anything needed, the format itself of the tablet is bad for working.
    The "virtual keyboard" is always worse than a regular keyboard, and as its a portable device, the screen will always be small and will need you to hold it.
    Of course, you can plug a keyboard on the tablet, and can plug another screen on it or put it on a stand, but the end result? a battery
  • There's many, many more PCs in the world than there were last year, and there will continue to be many, many more PCs next year.

    Just because it's rate of growth is slower than it used to be, does not mean there will be fewer PCs used - PCs are not actually getting less popular, they're just not getting more popular at as fast a rate as before.

    The 'desktop' is as necessary, and as used as ever - there's just fewer folks needing a new copy right now. The role of PCs in doing most of the creation of content,

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Er, the desktop market shrank by 20% last year. That's not a lack of growth, that's an actual decrease in size.
  • Desktop for creating content. Tablet/Phone for consuming content. Cloud? Meh. Same old by another name.
  • Desktop software lives strong. After all, Angry Birds Space (http://www.angrybirds.com/) is still available for the PC or MAC.
  • Aren't they always saying that PC gaming is dying too--and have been saying that for a couple of decades now? For something that's dying, it sure still seems to keep kicking. It's got a longer death scene than Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs, I guess.

    • It's a slow decline into "one of many niches" rather than a "dead and gone" sort of thing. More and MOre the PC Gaming market is turning into the late Amiga game market. Games from US/UK developers that have little/no console experience....yet, but will do so eventually (Blizzard is a good example), Cross-platform games and Ports, and games from European developers too poor or too partisan to do console games.

      After all there was a time not so long ago when die-hard PC gamers said things like:

      You'll never

  • Desktop/PC is not dead. It's just that people, until now, didn't have any other option than to purchase a PC, in order to do tasks they are interested in.

    Now that they can get a tablet/phone to do this, they don't need PC. They never did. They just didn't have a choice.

  • People often forget to ask themselves what is a desktop. Most of you thinks that the desktop is a big tower stuffed in a desk, but the desktop is actually:

    1) Big (by comparison to phones and tablets) screen.
    2) Full physical keyboard
    3) Mouse or other pointer device.

    The tower by itself does not make a desktop. I think in the end you will just plug your phone or watch or whatever into a big screen screen with bluetooth mouse and keyboards to do your work. Your phone os will also have a desktop interface (like

  • "'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses"

    In the end we will have a device with no screen and a single button: "Like".

  • Saturation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sub67 ( 979309 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:11AM (#45594373)
    Whenever I see news or discussion about dwindling desktop sales I don't see anything about market saturation. Computers are relatively durable appliances that people aren't typically going to replace without the need to do so.

    When was the last time you replaced your toaster just for the hell of it?
    • Market saturation and maturity. It used to be that, if you upgraded your three-year-old machine, you could do new and interesting things with it, if only playing more computationally demanding games. Given market saturation, if people in general go from a three-year to a five-year* replacement cycle, that's a fairly dramatic drop in sales.

      *Wash hands after handling these numbers. You know where they've been.

  • by Rambo Tribble ( 1273454 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:15AM (#45594433) Homepage
    ... cannot and will not be confined to a 7-inch screen. Nor can the range of artistic inputs be entirely duplicated by a touch screen. In time holographic displays and other technologies will displace some of the current hardware requirements to run, say, multiple displays, but we aren't there yet.
  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:16AM (#45594455)

    The PC market (where P = personal and 'PC' includes Mac,Windows,Linux etc.) has had a 30 year honeymoon period during which specifications were increasing exponentially and real-time prices were dropping. Customers had a real incentive to upgrade their hardware and software every 18 months or so, because they were trying to to jobs that were pushing at the limits of their hardware.

    Now, that has come to an end. Your 3-year old PC can effortlessly run a GUI-based OS like Windows 7, OS X 10.6 or your Linux distro of choice. It can do non-linear HD video editing fast enough for 'pro-sumers'. It can render web pages as fast as your broadband can deliver them. It can play FPS video games at 60 frames/sec, at levels of detail that are just this side of 'uncanny valley'. The only reason it would even break a sweat doing wordprocessing, DTP or spreadsheets is if the software is a bloated mess mentioning no names). The 4GB-8GB RAM you got is probably still enough and the only thing that can really fill up a 500G+ HDD for personal use is your video pr0n collection - for which cheap external HDs (convenient to lock in a cupboard) are available.

    Of course, there are still specialist niches who need Moore's Law to keep rolling - but they will increasingly be looking at things like multi-GPU computing, clusters and the Cloud (£1 in the swear jar) rather than traditional Personal Computers.

    Upgrading might get you a 10% improvement, but that's not going to turn your movie render from "coffee break" to "instant". I think the last, great upgrade for most people will be to switch from spinning rust to SSD (which does produce a dramatic speed up for many users) - after that, the only reason to upgrade will be if your computer breaks, suffers planned obsolescence or if the vendor sells you a stylish new model on non-technical grounds (Apple are the only real masters of that - possibly why they are doing less badly than others).

    Sure, tablets and smartphones are part of the picture, but I suspect that it is more a case of people spending their spare cash on the latest fondleslab as a supplement to their 2 year-old PC rather than junking PCs for tablets.

    There's also a case of self-fulfilling prophecy, with manufacturers obviously spending their R&D money on mobile devices rather than coming up with anything new in the PC line (beyond bunging touch-screens on their laptops) and software houses screwing up their offerings in a misguided attempt to make them more tablet-like (Windows 8, Gnome 3, Unity).

    The only reason the PC will die is if modern hypercapitalist corporations decied that they can't be arsed to support a mature market that is no longer in its boom years and unlikely to generate short term windfall profits.

    Quite frankly, computing could do with a few years respite from 'if it works it is obsolete' to give people a chance to finish upgrading their DOS software to a system that may still be around when they finish the job.

  • by TheloniousToady ( 3343045 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:17AM (#45594463)

    I believe people confuse "the death of the desktop" with "the logical conclusion of the desktop". In the past, each new generation of desktop brought important new capabilities, often in terms of speed and memory, but sometimes in terms of other things (long ago) such as GUI capability, networking, USB support.

    However, desktops now seem to have reached their logical conclusion, at least in terms of speed an memory. Desktops already have more memory than is needed in most cases. Regarding speed, processor clock speed seems to have plateaued, and many processors now have more cores than can be efficiently used. Also, the speed of the computer as perceived by the user now is limited by non-processor factors such as network speed and hard drive speed. And what was the last new "killer feature" to come along like USB to make you buy a new desktop?

    All that leaves little reason for the user to upgrade to the next generation. So, desktops aren't dead, they've just reached their logical conclusion. New desktops will continue to be made, bought, and incrementally improved. But much as car manufacturers change the cosmetics of cars each year to sell new models to people who don't really need to replace their old ones, we can expect Microsoft, Apple, Dell, et. al. to continue to change the cosmetics to convince us to "upgrade". And that will occasionally result in marketing disasters such as the Edsel and Windows 8.

  • Maybe for personal use the desktop is dying, because legions of brainless "consumers" seem content to "consume" on their devices rather than produce. But the computer desktop will live on for a long time in business where it's often the best tool for the job.

  • by jimbrooking ( 1909170 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:32AM (#45594629)
    No comments about the countless clerical, finance, and other sorts of people who enter, proofread/correct, analyze, update, and/or look up data stored somewhere: the desktop historically, or the cloud (if one, or one's management, is willing to take a chance that everyone between you and your data will vote unanimously to allow you to get at the data on any given day). These people doubtless outnumber all the AutoCAD and software development people by a huge margin. It seems inconceivable that they could do their jobs with tablets or, even worse, a phone or something like Glass. For them, I imagine a good-sized screen and a keyboard will always be needed. Whether these essential I/O devices are driven by a phone (with still more third-parties getting between you and your work) or something else isn't important. It needn't have the same form factor as a desktop, but it will need much of the same I/O and connectivity as a desktop.
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:55AM (#45594889) Homepage Journal

    For the "media consumption" crowd who only surf the web and watch youtube videos, then yes, perhaps the desktop is dead.

    For people who CREATE anything, perform any kind of development work, do web page design, graphic design, or any kind of office work, the desktop, even if it's virtualized via thin-client hardware, will still be king.

    I work on a desktop, but the main purpose of this desktop is to login to a mainframe (not kidding), that's running cobol code that goes back to the 1980's. There's millions of dollars of software investment in this system, and it's not going anywhere, even though upper management has tried to get rid of it. It simply works too well. And I'm sure I'm not alone -- I'm assuming there's billions of dollars of hardware and software that firms are hesitant to simply drop and replace if it's doing the job.

    And don't even get me started on "the cloud" -- without the equivalent of cheap/ubiquitous "desktop" machine hardware out there, the cloud wouldn't be able to exist.

    The desktop is dead? Hardly, and only if you're looking at a single segment of the market. That's like saying the wristwatch is dead, the wired telephone is dead, the stereo system is dead, and the TV set is dead -- all of these devices can be replaced by a single mobile device, so, consumers don't need these things either, does that mean that they are dead too?

  • by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:09AM (#45595087)
    The desktop isn't dead, the desktop is very much alive and well. Try doing FPGA design / VHDL design without a laptop or a desktop. Try doing intensive computing in Matlab / Octave without a desktop / laptop. I can keep going but there is no point, the desktop / laptop is very much needed in many cases, let alone servers.
  • Nope .. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mordred99 ( 895063 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:36AM (#45595403)

    I don't know where and why this keeps coming up, but at the end of the day, the death of the PC won't happen for a while, for many reasons:

    1) Creation vs. Consumption
            I hear this bullshit a lot as the main driver for the death of the PC. This is a particularly specious argument. The whole creation vs. consumption aspect comes from creating content. While I can type on a tablet or other device, it is not as good (no matter the method) as a keyboard. I can type this entire post in 20 minutes on a keyboard but would take hours (and having fun with spell check, etc.) on some tablet device.

    2) Ownership of content
            This a huge one. With a desktop I can own what I own, and it is mine. With any always connected, remotely managed device I never can control what they manage. Cloud apps just scare the hell out of me as you don't own anything. You buy a song on ITunes, it is yours until Apple says it is not. You buy a movie from Amazon, it is your until the movie studio sues Amazon and they get a take down notice. This is why if I buy something, it is a physical device. You can not take my Blu-Ray copy of Skyfall without a warrant and coming to my house.

    3) Ownership of information
            The next thing is who owns your data. Have you read many of the EULA for software? Try turbo tax. You would think that your data is yours. Nope. Well I can control how the software works and how it calls home for information my data is stored locally. It never sends that information out. Now use the online (cloud) app from them, they store your information for you. Let me see my tax information is probably one of three things I never want anyone to see (for identity thief protection). This is stored somewhere where you trust them to keep it safe. This is why a desktop (or laptop) is best for this as it is stored local and you have control.

    4) Form Factor
            Yes at the end of the day, you can consume any form of media on any form factor. I can watch netflix on my tablet or my phone, but is that the most enjoyable experience? Hell no, it is just the most convenient. If I am going to watch a netflix show I would rather watch it in all its glory on my 52" TV with dolby digital sound system. However when I am sitting at an airport, yes I have to watch it on my portable devices since pulling a 52" TV through an airport w/ associated 7.1 system would just be unfeasible.

    5) Gaming
            While some stupid little game like candy crush or angry birds work on those form factors, you cannot tell me that a high FPS FPS (heh .. frame per second, first person shooter) will never work on your dinky 4.3" Iphone screen. Yeah games can be made for those form factors, but at the end of the day, are those the games which are going to be what you want to spend 60 dollars on and want to spend hours playing on a larger screen. Nope, that is a console or a desktop.

  • by littlewink ( 996298 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @01:30PM (#45597091)

    It isn't possible to type as quickly and accurately on a tablet or iPhone as on a desktop PC. It isn't possible to precisely select a graphical element in one step (as in a CAD drawing).

    Since voice input/control is not there yet, we are restricted to using mobile devices' clumsy keyboards. Even with voice, it is likely that users will opt for keyboards for other reasons (privacy, quiet in a group work environment, etc.).

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."