The PC Isn't Dead, It's Just Evolved Into New Forms

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-08-13 Print this article Print

title=We're Really Entering the Post-Platform Era}

Let's use as an example the most ubiquitous computer in the civilized world. Yes, we're talking about the computer that controls your microwave oven. Chances are, you haven't even thought about that as a computer. You just put your recently cooled cup of coffee in the oven, enter a command on a keypad, and your coffee is hot. But behind that is really a computer that interprets the command you enter, tells the magnetron how long to run and at what power level and then turns it off, alerting you with a beep.

This is an example of how a computing device has so insinuated itself into daily life that nobody thinks about it anymore. There are no platform wars about which microwave oven operating system is best. There are no pitched Internet blog wars about the microwave oven user interface. They are simply part of life.

Ultimately, this is the future for computers. We're not so much entering a Post-PC world as we're entering a post-platform world. It's already the norm for the well-equipped executive to own and use several different devices that are clearly computers, but clearly not the same.

How many times have you traveled through the security line at the airport and seen a fellow traveler with a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop computer and a music player, along with a set of noise cancelling headphones, maybe a GPS and perhaps a digital voice recorder. That's seven identifiable computers right there and all of that travels in a single briefcase. And that's not counting the computer you may have in your wristwatch or perhaps in your digital hearing aids.

As you can see, we're already entering the post-platform world as the things we carry with us look less and less like computers as they gain more and more power. How long do you think it will be until you're interacting with computers that are taking place of what you once used PCs for? It's already happened tablets and smartphones. How long before personal communications stop obviously being computing devices and simply become communicators that take on the aspects that are necessary to do the job?

But of course there will still be computers that are obviously computers because sometimes that's what's needed to carry out a specific function. But it still makes platform partisanship look a little silly in a post-platform world.


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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