Editorial: The Future Of Personal Computing Revisited

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Back in October, I wrote an editorial on the future of personal computing, right around the time Windows 8 was launched. I want to revisit some of my thoughts today, about 6 months later, and see how accurate I was in my assumptions. There have been quite a few articles on the internet recently about the decline in the PC market, and most point their fingers to Windows 8, but is it really to blame?

When looking at stats, there’s a few things to consider, such as the economy and the type of technology we’re looking at. When I think of personal computing, that covers everything from PCs and laptops to tablets and smartphones. Today’s reports show that there’s been a 14% decline in the PC market. When it comes to smartphones, some companies show a decline but others are picking up the slack, so more and more people are getting smartphones.

In my article from October, I wrote about the shift from a traditional PC and laptop market to a tablet and smartphone market, and I still believe that is what we’re seeing today. With each new smartphone that comes out, you can do even more with it. Outside of work, I don’t use a computer as much as I used to because I have my smartphone. I’ve already made the shift to the tablet world too and I haven’t looked back. Windows 8 has made people want a touchscreen device, which are still expensive for large desktop PC monitors, while tablets are more affordable.

With the economy of recent years, people are saving more money and not upgrading things as quick as they used to. If their 5-10 year old desktop still gets the job done, then why upgrade it? There’s no real benefit to them, other than the fact that it might be a little faster, but with that benefit comes the few hundred dollar price tag.

Another thing to look at is the specs. For probably 90-95% of the general population, specs for a PC were maxed out about 5 years ago. Sure, things are getting faster and smaller, but most people don’t need a 500GB solid state drive or 8-16GB of RAM with a suped up graphics card. They are perfectly content with their 250-500GB 5000rpm hard drive, 4GB of RAM and integrated graphics. Hardcore gamers are the exception to this. As more advanced games come out, the hardware will follow. For the “everyday” person though, they can get their gaming fix playing Angry Birds on their smartphone or tablet.

As for Windows 8, there’s still a huge learning curve and it’ll still take time to catch on, but I don’t see it as the reason the PC market is failing, but I do see it as the reason for the shift we’re seeing to touchscreens and tablets.

What are your thoughts?

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