Column: Post-PC Era Won't Stifle PCs

38

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

brutus90

I think this article misses the mark by focusing on the demise of PCs. If all we are talking about is the towers that are at our desk, I don't think we open ourselves up to what could be in the future, and we cling to our PCs as a form of nostalgia.

There's the arguement that you can't get the type of performance from anything other than PCs, or the upgradability, or the customization. When it comes down to it though, the main point of a computer is to get things done in a way that we need to get them done. I think when tablets evolve more and more, we will start seeing things such as LCD monitors that have a dock on the back for our tablet, and instantly we have a desktop. Something like this has great benefits for most people that use a computer, from businesses to the home user. What if a business with 2000 people (and therefore 2000 computers) have an LCD that has a tablet running the show in the background? Imagine the power savings as well as the ease of upgrading a machine. Also, the typical computer user who has a tablet can work at their desk, but when it comes to bedtime, just undocks their tablet from their PC and works in bed (not having to worry about moving their stuff over, installing printers, etc).

The gamers are going to cry out if they read this, but not so fast. If you could buy a tablet along with periferals that would be fast enough to run your games for the next couple years for a good 300 bucks, would you really tell me you wouldn't do it? Many would, but some would want to build their own with the idea that they can upgrade it later. To each their own, although it gets tougher and tougher to justify spending a lot of money on something when there is something else out there that's a lot cheaper and can do the job almost as well.

Change is coming no matter what, so it's best to at least keep an open mind.

avatar

brutus90

Also, I think Steve Jobs hits the nail on the head when he talks about PCs (and no, I'm not a Mac guy - far from it). They won't be completely extinct for a long time (or ever). But where the money goes, the development will surely follow, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is one day where PC performance and tablet performance are in the same ballpark.

avatar

zsargent

There's never going to be a "Post PC Era." There was a huge "bubble" of people that bought PC's that don't really need them. If you look at a graph of units sold over time, we are on a downward trend. Okay, great. Grandma, who you insisted needed e-mail and Myspace access to stay in touch with you in 2003, turned out to be a giant social engineering/hacking/virus magnet. In 2013, you update her PC with an iPad and both of you are happy. She was part of the bubble. Managers that travel a lot and read TPS reports don't need a giant laptop - a tablet is fine for them, too. These people are not buying PC's when the time comes to replace their current unit. They are looking at tablets and saying, "Wow, that is good enough," and it has other advantages for them, as well.

Now, spreadsheet jockeys, Photoshoppers, video proofers, and all us other minions that need to do real work ... we still need a desktop or laptop that has some power. An Atom-based "convertible" laptop is not going to cut it. However, I have seen some pretty powerful ultrabooks and all-in-one PC's, lately. Hardly post-PC, these devices pack i5 and/or i7 processors, SSD's, and touch screens for Windows 8. The next generation is slimming down, and the old "full tower" rigs may be a market limited to the enthusiasts among us ... but that's hardly "post-PC." That sound is just a bubble popping and the market will reach an equilibrium and maybe even growth again in the next couple of years. What are all these "experts" going to say when HP, Lenovo and Dell post more units shipped in 2016 than 2015? Oh my gosh! The PC is BACK! And that will be their headlines then because that's how the business works.

As to Windows 8, you haters are fools. Have you ever used an XBox Kinnect? Or Windows Phone? Are you excited about the Leap Motion controller? REMOVING the start menu was a stupid move. I think Microsoft is looking too far into the crystal ball and not leaving enough bridge to the current generation. Use StartIsBack like everyone else and move on. Windows 8 has some awesome features that you are denying yourself. It's not Vista, so quit acting like it. The "tile" interface is going to be your favorite thing on HP's motion-detecting laptops ... just sayin' ... hate it all you want, but that UI is going to seem innovative and ahead-of-the-curve a few years from now.

avatar

compguytracy

To surf the net in my bed, iPad, to play bioshock, or any pc game, do my finances, print, use word, or any office program with a keyboard, or any general use a tablet would cry doing, my pc.

avatar

Blues22475

"Frankly, sales would be better if Microsoft hadn’t buried Windows 8 under a baffling user interface. As for HP, its troubles run much deeper than lackluster PC sales."

I agree with this somewhat. I am still having customers come up to me and saying "Windows 8 is confusing." or the like. These are people are a mix of folks who are set in their ways (thus hate change) and people who could care less about what OS they're using (so long as they can do what they're set out to do).

@maxeeemum: I am right there with you dude. I actually had an easier time with Linux than I did with Windows 8.

avatar

maxeeemum

"@maxeeemum: I am right there with you dude. I actually had an easier time with Linux than I did with Windows 8."

And you are a PC Tech! When a company puts out an OS that even experienced users have big problems with something is seriously wrong. Microsoft has clearly lost its way!

avatar

Blues22475

To be fair, I think they were going for something new. Yes, people hate change, yes new things scare people. Though I think it's okay in its own right if you sit down and learn it, but it's not very likely that that business CEO of the Pepsi company is gonna wanna sit down and re-learn Windows 8.

If they want people to switch to it, give them incentive to do so (that's my whole opinion about it). Right now, I personally see no incentive to do so.

avatar

fbaerkir

I'm curious about that graphic, and what the chart is supposed to actually convey. It looks to be calling the iPad a "personal computer unit," undercutting any argument that the PC is going somewhere. My guess is that it's actually comparing tablet sales, which looks impressive with Apple beating all the other competitors on the chart. But then, if you think about it in terms of OS share, which means all those other competitors add up against Apple, the chart is significantly less rosy for Apple.

avatar

wolfing

We basically need to redefine what a 'PC' is. If it's the old big desktop box with a monitor on a table somewhere in the house, I do think it's about to become a relic of the past. They will still be needed by some groups, but the majority of people moved on or are in the process of moving on.

But if the term PC (personal computer) is expanded to what it really is... a personal computer, then it should include tablets (and laptops, ultrabooks of course). I wouldn't say phones as it wouldn't be their primary purpose, unless we accept now that smart phones' primary use is not being a phone anymore (which is debatable). In that case, sales of PCs are actually on the rise, as a lot more people have them now... instead of one per house now there are 3 or more per house (sometimes even per person). I'm ok with that.

avatar

wumpus

Two issues:
architecture (PC=wintel, PC!=mac, PC!=android)
form factor (PC=desktop&notebook, PC!=tablets&phones)

Architecture seems like an easy fix: if you can install software it's a PC, if an admin can install software it's a client, if the manufacturer can only install software it's embedded. PC!=A direct descendant of an IBM PC/XT

Form factor is a bit more fluid, but tends to break down by how you use the thing:

Desktop: Monitor too bulky to move. Keyboard & mouse rarely, if ever get unplugged.
Notebook: Portable. Keyboard & mouse directly attached to screen. Designed to be largely used on a flat surface, and definitely unsupported by your hands.
Tablet: Portable. Keyboard & mouse mostly deprecated. Touch is largely encouraged. Designed to be held in your hands (probably the biggest point).
Hybrid: Can be used either as a tablet or notebook. I want one that lets the keyboard flip around behind the screen, but other designs are shipping now.
e-reader: Only designed to be held in hands, lightweight is key, doesn't need the size requried for high resolution touch input. The somewhat artificial difference between "real e-readers" and "mini tablets" will revolve around the backlight and CPU speed, but even this should be ignored.
phone: portability is key: if you are tempted to leave it at home it fails badly. Must be big enough to have some separation between audio input and audio output (assuming no bluetooth dohickeys). Otherwise, it should be hard to tell it from a tablet (unless the phone decides to drop down to audio-grade wireless coverage and the tablet just gives up in similar areas).

Right now, architecture is tied to form factor for historical reasons. One thing that might be interesting is what happens when 8 cheap ARM cores plus a somewhat larger amount of silicon spent on a GPU can suddenly run ported PS4 and xbox720 games. Steam+android+HDMI might break up the artificial ties between form factors and architecture, at least for home usage. While I think plenty of office bound PCs could be replaced with tablets, I don't see breaking the IT "professionals" PC-centric habits. I'm guessing the PC did an end-around the mainframe guys, but the tablet needs to be coded for the "enterprise" software (and thus needs ITguy's blessing).

avatar

LatiosXT

I'm still going to go on and say this: any indication that PC sales are slipping is because everyone and their mother, cousin, baby, and dog has a computer. It's an overly saturated market.

Everything else still has fresh grounds to breed upon.

avatar

wumpus

This has been true the entire 21st century. What has changed is that there might be at most a 25% difference in speed between the machines they have and the machines the industry wants to sell to them. Unless the customer is into AAA games, it is next to impossible* to tell the difference between a core2duo from 2006 running xp and a ivy bridge (or Haswell) running windows 7. Before this machines tended to run twice as fast as a machine three years old and you needed that power to run the latest copy of Office (and you needed the latest copy of Office to open the files your pointy haired boss sends you with his shiny new machine loaded with the latest copy of Office).

* if you notice a speed differnce it is likely due to xp being comprimised and your machine is mining bitcoins as a zeusbot. The differences are small and won't be noticed until the machine is pushed to the limit.

avatar

captainjack

Truth has been spoken! I'm consistently surprised at how little the "memory wall" is brought up during MPC discussions.

avatar

roberto.tomas

I kinda disagree. I agree that PCs aren't going away ... but over the next few years they are certainly going to disappear from the living room or spare bedroom. Even Microsoft is developing the next xBox *primarily* to serve as a personal computer ... ie, consoles even are being prepped to replace PCs. The shift within the PC market has put laptops ahead of PCs, and in the past year the PC market has fallen by more than 10% — it is all giving way to the phones. It won't continue at that rate, but in the near future I'd expect only enthusiast PCs and business machines to hold bite-sized chunks of the market.

avatar

DoctorX

not in this house... and we have 3 pcs, 1 server, 1 laptop, 1 netbook, 1 CR48, 4 tablets, 3 android phones, 4 rokus and 1 mvix. My study is my sanctuary. I make money from there and relax after doing it. I have my worklaptop hooked up to 2x 27" samsungs and my hexacore via a high end kvm switch. Tablets are fun toys as are phones, but any serious work goes on in my study. I do not even use a laptop elsewhere in the house. I am like most in IT, task oriented. I cannot get any real work done in the other areas of the house.

There will never be a console in this house ever... Last one we bought was the original nes.

Tablets, phones, etc are nice toys and such, but forget real work on them.

avatar

jgottberg

I hear this term all the time - "real work" - what exactly do you mean by that? That isn't meant to come off as argumentative although I'm sure it will be taken that way.

Reason I ask is because a lot of functions we used to need RAID arrays with SCSI drives and dual procs can be accomplished wth an SSD and an i7 or similar.

Now if you said "real gaming" then I'd agree.

avatar

maxeeemum

The best description I've heard as to what's going on with the PC market is to say "We have reached PC saturation".

avatar

wumpus

We've had PC saturation since forever. What we have now is either the death of Moore's law, or more accurately the irrelevance of Moore's law (since those transistors aren't getting much cheaper or faster when they get smaller). Those saturated PCs don't need to be replaced.

avatar

Jeffredo

Haven't bought a retail in ten years and I pass my oldies on to relatives. All those PCs don't show up on anyone's sales chart that Apple is showing in the pic.

avatar

mikeyfree

Add up the cpu/motherboard bundled sales and include it in with pc sales, a home build rig should qualify as a pc sale too.

avatar

jgottberg

I understand where you are going but it's flawed logic.

If a person blows the engine on their car, they don't count it as a new car sale if they buy a new engine for the car. We are all passionate (or we all should be if we are on this site) about rolling our own rig but we are still a vast minority of PC users. Even if there were able to quantify new PC purchases bases on home builds, it wouldn't really make a dent in the numbers. It would be like adding a cup of water to a 1000 gallon fish tank.

avatar

mikeyfree

New motherboard, means "New build". Its that simple, here at MPC they posted this: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/operation_upgrade_how_we_rebuilt_three_old_pcs_part_part, so you would agree with MPC upgrades then. Well sorry to inform you that once you replace the motherboard it is a new build; so this is why I put the consideration as cpu/motherboard bundle. Because if you buy this type of bundle its typically a new build and not a replacement.

avatar

jgottberg

Like I said, I get what you are saying but there is no guarantee that if someone buys a mobo, they are buying ALL the parts needed to build a PC. A mobo on it's own without the other needed hardware really isn't a PC, is it?

btw - I checked out the link, good stuff man :)

avatar

DoctorX

bad analogy... people do not buy their own chassis, parts and engines and assemble their own cars, unless you building a classic car.

I have to disagree with you on building... I think i know only one person who buys prebuilt pcs at work for personal. We are a very large company. Everyone else builds their own systems.

You show me an oem pc that is worth a shit, then i may consider it. But not one of them use good parts. That is the main reason for me.

avatar

jgottberg

I'd also have to respectuflly disagree. You said it yourself, people DO buy those materials to build cars, they just aren't the majority. Kit cars are a huge hobby for a lot of people. A buddy of mine just completed a Ferris Bueller Ferrari kit car (which is FREAKIN cool).Like us, they are enthusiasts and want the best possible craftsmanship or pride of knowing they built it themselves.

I never said anything about showing anyone a better pre-built system in my post, I didn't think... Personally, I build my own but for family that doesn't have the know-how, I have no problem sending them over to Dell or HP to get a home machine. At least they will have ONE vendor to call if they have problems as opposed to calling mobo, proc, video card, etc, manufacturers trying to sort out where the problem is and get an RMA... Let alone try and install the part.

Back to my original point though... I still don't think custom built PC's should be considered. If they were to count them, what governing body would keep track of the sales of home-buiilt machines?

avatar

devastator_2000

Amen! I have not bought a name brand PC in almost 15 years. I build all mine.

avatar

PCWolf

Yup. My 1st PC was the only pre-made PC I ever purchased. & that was back in 1997. Seems the Idiots who call themselves Experts don't take into account the Self Built PCs, & only Focus on Premade Sales, & the Sales of iPads.

avatar

DoctorX

^This^

I have bought just 1 OEM pc ... that was in 93... The only other one i bought was a netbook in 1997. I build all my systems.

avatar

Blackheart-1220

Fight for the glorious PC gaming master race until we die!!!

avatar

PCWolf

+10 Internets

avatar

cr8n

"Frankly, sales would be better if Microsoft hadn’t buried Windows 8 under a baffling user interface."

That's pretty subjective and based on your opinion. It might well be true, but by using the word "frankly" you state it as a fact, which it most certainly is not. As a matter of FACT, most people find the interface easy to understand, not baffling. It's just that they don't like it (supposedly).

avatar

maxeeemum

@cr8n

"As a matter of FACT, most people find the interface easy to understand, not baffling."

The average person is completely baffled the first time they use Windows 8. I was!!!!!! And I'm not the average user! I don't know anyone who knew how to use W8 the first time using it. I had to use another PC and google what to do.

In fact for me my first experience with Linux was easier than my first experience with W8. I have it all figured out now but WTF. Win8 is the absolute worst OS M$ ever put out!!!

avatar

wumpus

Baffling? Enraging is my experience. It isn't just the start screen: every time you run OS or included Microsoft software it grabs the entire screen and won't let go. Start menu? Whole screen. Fixed the start menu? Fine, the control panel is still whole screen. Any icons on the start screen that you didn't directly grab the screen and won't let go.

This is a desktop machine. I have a bit more room on my display than a phone, but Microsoft has decided to use my machine to sell me a phone and won't let me see more than what will fit on a phone regardless of the real estate of my monitor. Back when win8 was being hyped, we heard endless hype about upcoming metroUI apps and how they would be the next new thing. Haven't heard a thing about MetroUI apps (or even what they are called now that is the GUI formerly known as metro) even though they are required for surface RT & phone (no really, it's important. Go write those apps!) or to make surface PRO work well without manually reattaching the keyboard & mouse every time you want to use an app on your tablet.

The only reason win8 is still on my machine is that I use it as a game launcher. Anything else gets done in Linux. If you use windows strictly to launch apps and then stay in the app for hours, win8 isn't bad. I wouldn't want to actually have to live on the desktop, though (then again, I don't particularly like any windows desktop).

avatar

maxeeemum

Yes that too! At first I was baffled that I could not figure out how use W8. Then when I figured it out the "rage" kicked in. And ... the rage continues .............................

avatar

PCWolf

CR8N

I love how people like you claim that most people like windows 8. If its so Great like you & all your friends claim, why is it failing so badly? Why has it been called "The Worst OS Since Vista"? Seems the only place Windows 8 is great, is in your Imagination. But Hey, If you like, it, stop worrying about how others think about it.

avatar

Granite

You seem to be suffering from CDD (Comprehension Deficit Disorder)

The person you responded to did not "claim that most people like windows 8".

Just saying....

avatar

igoka

Yours "most people" is also subjective and based on Your opinion. Everyone i know don't like Win8 because of user interface. Just because you like it doesn't mean everybody like it as well.

avatar

PCWolf

Agreed. Windows 8's UI stinks. Seems Windows 8 lovers act like Mac Users.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.