Is The Desktop PC Doomed? - InformationWeek

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10/29/2009
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Is The Desktop PC Doomed?

The rise of Web-based apps, virtualization, and a crop of powerful mobile devices have the traditional PC desktop on the run.

What's emerging, then, is not so much a different kind of desktop, but different classes of user -- and different ways to satisfy those various classes of user. Those of us who need a full-blown desktop will have one; those of us who don't now have a range of choices.

Windows 7: The Last Great Microsoft Desktop?

In his blog post, Wolfe went on to say this this about Windows 7, "I believe this will be the last great client-side OS launch we'll ever see."

Client-side is a slightly broader term than desktop, but I think Alex chose that word for a reason: all desktops are clients, but not all clients are desktops.

Most of the discussion about Windows 7 should be familiar by now, especially its lower system-resource requirements. Because Windows 7 was designed to run on a slightly broader range of devices (mini-book to maxi-desktop), it's that much less susceptible to being summarily ignored by the New Desktop folks. This applies even if we ignore the fact that what constitutes a low-end machine today is far more powerful than anything you could get four years ago.

As a result, Windows 7 should be adopted by many New Desktop people, even if only provisionally. The larger question of whether they'll stay with it -- either because of the long-term demise of Windows as a client OS or because of their own needs -- has no answer yet, and deserves close scrutiny.

If a good percentage of them stay with it, up until and through the acquisition of their next device -- be it netbook, notebook, full PC, tablet PC, super smartphone, or what have you -- then Windows may well have bought itself at least another generation of life.

Linux: The Contender?

It's impossible to read a tech-related Web site today (InformationWeek included) without tripping over a piece about Linux being the future of the desktop. A lot of the noise is justified. Linux is a powerful operating system with a huge crop of quality software, a good deal of which may already be familiar to Windows users, and without the security or cost issues that have plagued Windows before.

Truth is, Linux simply hasn't commanded the kind of desktop share that would make it a contender to either the Mac or Windows. Any number of possible reasons have been tossed around. For instance, it's been claimed that PC manufacturers not offering Linux as an option. Many do; but most people still choose Windows thanks to it being familiar and more immediately useful to them.

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