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.
The impression I get is many folks seem to think that shifting "heavy lifting" work from PC to the cloud would result in more use of tablet and less of PC. However, these so called clouds consist of large server farms FULL of PC! Those rack mount systems may not look like your regular PC, but there are PC none-the-less. Many of these are custom-built and as a result may not be counted in typical market survey. The larger server farms may each have over a million CPUs for "heavy lifting". So no matter how you cut it, the demand of CPU bandwidth is increasing, not decreasing. The numbers floating in popular press are just a matter how the accounting is done.
Well, I may be the anomaly here, but:
I don't own an iPhone, nor do I own a smart phone.
My wife has a iPAD.
Between our offices and home, I and my wife use 6 desktops or laptops.
So my percentages would look more like:
For home use, a NAS box with tons of storage has become a critical component -- our own "cloud." We have several desktop PCs (never giving those up!), and I've gotten tired of replacing hard drives just because someone's C drive is almost full -- mostly with media files. The laptops and iPad also share that cloud nicely.
My biggest complaint regarding our various devices is the lack of "whole home" sharing of my biggest content-aggregator device -- the cable DVR box. How nice it would be to be able to watch that content on any desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone in the house, and to be able to archive content on the NAS box. The MSOs are slowly addressing the first issue of multi-screen sharing, but in their own closed-system kind of way, and content owners will never allow NAS archiving of their content. If they would, my "whole home" content sharing problem would be solved immediately.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.