When we use the term “Personal Computer”, we are generally talking about machines that can trace their ancestry to the original IBM 5150 PC, the computer architecture that brought computing to the masses. Introduced in 1981, the 5150 architecture, along with the Microsoft PC-DOS operating system, became the standard upon which the modern computer industry is based.
Arguably, the Microsoft operating system and the Microsoft Windows OS’s which followed had more influence on computers becoming a part of our everyday life than the hardware it ran on. There are voices in the press saying that the latest version of that software, Windows 8, is a nail in the coffin of the personal computer.
Resuscitation By Killer App
If the PC is truly dying, than the factors pushing it under are mobile and Cloud technology. The desktop computer is seen as a place to sit, to remain in one place and do work. Mobile, on the other hand, is all about being free to move about, experience the world, and share your discoveries with your friends. Mobile devices are well suited to Cloud based applications where the actually computing functions are based in the Internet, largely independent from the device the end user is interfacing with.
Sales of tech devices, especially personal computers, have traditionally been tied to the “killer app” phenomena. One manifestation of the killer app was the periodic releases of new and improved operating systems. Whenever a new OS was released by the gang in Redmond, hardware manufacturers raced to release new equipment to run the software. By and large, there there has been a steady progression of hardware improvements that more or less match the upgraded Operating Systems. This has made putting a new OS on the street an occasion for consumers to upgrade their hardware.
Widows 8, Deep DooDoo
In the half year since Windows 8’s release, PC sales have dropped, fueling supposition that the personal computer is dead. Windows 8 users generally have reactions ranging from confusion to outright anger over the changes in the new OS.
Windows 8 is largely an attempt to combine desktop and mobile interfaces with a single operating system. This approach has obvious merit- as we become more accustomed to multiple devices, any aid in switching between them, using the Cloud as a conduit between devices, will be welcome. Some knowledgeable critics have accused Microsoft of moving too fast in their attempt to release Windows 8 in time for the 2012 Christmas season. Others complain that the interface is better suited to the swiping of a touch screen than clicks of a mouse.
The bottom line, at this point, is that Windows 8 has been an unmitigated flop. A solution nay be around the corner. This week Microsoft announced the impending release of Microsoft Blue, a re-release of Windows 8 that is expected to remedy the most OS’s glaring problems. The Financial Times call Microsoft’s reaction “one of the most prominent admissions of failure for a new mass-market consumer product since Coca-Cola’s New Coke fiasco nearly 30 years ago.” (You’ve never heard of New Coke? THAT’S how big the soft drink failure was!)
By Pete Knight
Image Source: http://oldcomputers.net/ibm5150.html)