SAN JOSE, Calif. – On the eve of the release of Windows 8, a veteran PC executive claims the new operating system marks the beginning of the end for PCs and the OEMs who make them.
Still, Joshua Shapiro said he has a technique to enable mass customization of software loads on PCs he says could help revive the platform.
Windows 8 includes essentially two environments—the traditional Windows operating system that runs apps complied for the x86 and a new run-time environment formerly called Metro that interprets byte codes for either x86 or ARM processors.
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Shapiro claims over time Microsoft will deemphasize traditional desktops and their compiled x86 apps in favor of iPad-like tablets like Microsoft Surface and their interpreted apps. The move parallels how Windows initially included then later discarded DOS.
“Everyone invested in [traditional PCs] is screwed,” said Shapiro, who spent 14 years at IBM before becoming a consultant and entrepreneur. “With Metro and Windows 8, Microsoft is essentially walking away from the PC and leaving it to die,” he said.
Companies who make PCs will see their already thin margins wither away over the next few years from a lack of investment in PC software, he argued. “You can already see the train wreck in HP and Dell—rather than defending the PC, they are running away from it,” he said.
“It’s my contention you need to stimulate PC software development, but the only group doing that today is the computer gamers—they have the only software that comes close to stressing a PC,” said Shapiro. “Nobody wants to develop for the PC anymore because there is no money in it, and VCs won’t support PC software startups because they only support apps now,” he said.
Shapiro believes his company, Imbue, could help revive the PC software industry. Imbue has a patented method for quickly loading software on PCs that he claimed enables OEMs to offer custom software images to consumers.