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.
ok - so real heavy lifting work will still be on more powerful hardware. But how much work IS heavy lifting? I would suggest that very few people ever stress the computational power of their PC's for their work - they may stress it for games. So do we see a division where you have the heavy lifting shifting off to "the cloud" (possibly even in the case of games, there are services that already do this) with most work being done on tablet like devices or smaller - possibly with voice interfaces to get around the pesky touchscreen typing, and what is seem as a PC being just a dock for the tablet with a keyboard etc?
In which case - is there any money still in making local heavy lifting PC's? If there is not the volume there then either people stop making them or they get really expensive. If the volume is not there then the chip guys will focus on mobile devices or what powers the cloud, not on local serious compute for PC's.
As I do everything pretty much through PC's (including laying out rather large chips) it concerns me if such machines will get more expensive
I think I see the overall problem. There are actually more different cases than we imagined. For example, my previous office workplace migrated from desktops to notebooks en masse about a decade ago, over the course of 2-3 years. Very expensive, but the company could afford to do so, in the name of (supposedly) higher productivity. I heard of a similar migration to tablets going on at one local spot recently, but I think that might be urban legend stuff for now. If there are still some places today where these migrations to higher mobility still cannot be afforded, that's part of a bigger problem.
Yes, high-end (desktop) workstations are still needed, especially for the graphics-intensive or data-intensive jobs. And also the servers to run these crunches in batches (which don't need to be called from desktops, but can be called and viewed from notebooks). But the ratio of users to these high-end computers should be growing not declining.
That's reasonable, IMO. Although these days many people work from home, at least some of the time.
And similarly, students usually can't go back home, or to their dorm room, and do nothing productive. Whether they're writing papers, lab reports, writing software, doing statistics homework, what have you, it just doesn't seem possible that they're doing all of this on iPads or iPhones.
Maybe on a Microsoft Surface, eventually.
I don't dispute that people are glued to their handheld toys most of their waking hours. I'm just saying, those same people also use PCs every day.
Maybe the decline of PC can be viewed in a different light. There are many applications in the business world where traditional PC cannot be replaced. However, many home PC are definitely over powerful. The second group is the one that is being replaced by mobile devices. There is no doubt that PC in this second group will decline. However, one cannot say PC is irrelevant. The overall PC market may be shrinking, but the first group may actually grow, maybe at a much smaller rate. This is my two cents.
The nature of the handheld devices is what makes the apps small, cheap, and nothing remotely comparable to Office. Plus, you CAN get all manner of freeware "apps" online, for PCs. Even stuff like Google Earth. Or games packaged with Windows.
Our office assistant person came to me to show off her new piano keyboard app, for instance. On a Wintel machine, that sort of app is usually packaged with Windows. Like games, for instance.
(And parenthetically, I quickly programmed an "app" of my own, to play piano notes from pressing keys on the keyboard, just to make the point that many of these gimmicky "apps" are just that. Gimmicks.)
Regardless of the hardware form factors -- desktop, notebook, ultrabook or tablet -- what I am more curious about is what will happen to the software business model in the future?
Consider the fact that on a mobile device, we don't call it "software," we call it "apps", and we don't pay big money for "apps". Most are just a few dollars. Will MS still be able to charge a big price for the Office suite in a world where people have grown accustomed to paying only a few bucks for an "app"?
I think we are seeing the decline of the low end home PC. A missed opportunity here is the need for high end work stations. No one seems to be giving much thought to what is going to be sitting on peoples desks at work in the near future.
I guess this nonsense about the demise of the PC has me wondering about this one fundamental point: what do people do to earn a living?
And let me answer my own question, to get the point across better. If you're a student, in high school, college, graduate school, or an academic, or just about any stripe of office worker, an engineer doing just about any kind of engineering, an architect, a graphics artist, a fashion designer, a music composer, and only time makes me want to stop here, you can't be productive on a smartphone alone.
Any student who manages to get by using only an iPad or iPhone, I have to suggest, isn't getting very good grades.
So, what is it all these people do day to day, who claim they don't need a PC?
I read a lot of stories here at eetimes but if there is ever one I disagree with it's ironic it always seems to be written by you Mr Rick Merrit.
If one wants an intelligent discussion of this article then making statements like "no one is developing for the pc anymore"
Is about as retarded as your original headline and content.
Your talking to engineers and techs here not mindless consumers.
Name one package that you use that is no longer available in an updated version because they only produce it for a tablet or phone now.
Your not working for some tabloid newspaper show some responsibility in your reporting.
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