Why the Much-Hyped Post-PC Era Never Arrived

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-01-10 Print this article Print
PostPC Era

These products exist because someone is buying them. In fact a lot of someones are buying them as Chris Preimesberger reports. Those buyers include students, of course, but they go far beyond that.

Knowledge workers, content creators or simply workers who need to see a lot of information at one time need something that goes beyond the limited capabilities of phones and tablets. That call center operator you talked to on the phone recently was on a desktop computer because they need to see all of your details at once, and they need to be productive.

But there's more to it than just the form factor. The companies that make desktop and laptop computers have learned a lot from watching the mobile world. Part of what they've learned is that simplicity rules.

Just as simple, inexpensive apps thrive in the world of phones, they're also gaining a great deal of traction in other arenas. One of the things that Windows 8 and recent versions of Apple's Mac OS X have offered is access to app stores where users can download a wide variety of applications directly without having to shop for and later install software from a box of CDs or DVDs.

For a while there were glitches, such as when Microsoft tried to force everyone into a touch-screen world with Windows 8, regardless of whether they had a touch-screen device. For a couple of years, the annoyances of Windows 8 threatened to drive desktop PCs into oblivion, except for those made by Apple.

The remarkably long lifespan of all those Windows XP machines was also a factor. But those models are absolutely obsolete and the withdrawal of XP technical support by Microsoft in 2014, no doubt, helped finally drive much of this surviving inventory into retirement in favor of Windows 7 or, to a lesser extent, Windows 8.

Now, things are changing. Microsoft is testing Windows 10, which looks like it's the version of Windows that the company should have produced all along. Over at Apple, Mac OS X Yosemite has not only benefited from the lessons of the mobile world, but has embraced that world with a global paradigm that allows information to flow from device to device without impediments.

Microsoft has similar plans for Windows, so that your Windows Phone will offer similar experiences with the Windows version on your desktop or tablet and, in some cases, even run the same apps to make it much easier to share data between devices.

What's happened is that instead of being overwhelmed by the mobile world, the desktop and laptop computer models that companies use every day have benefited from the lessons learned from those very mobile devices that were supposed to drive them into extinction. Mobile technology has only succeeded in making PC and application design more efficient and effective.

Instead of moving beyond PCs, the mobile world has helped PC designs evolve along with them. As a result, there is no post-PC era, but rather an era in which the device you use is the one that works the best at the time and under the circumstances.



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