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The Desktop Is Dead, Long Live the Desktop!

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the don't-abandon-your-battlestation dept.

Hardware 453

theodp writes "'The desktop or laptop is now in decline,' writes John Sall, 'squeezed from one side by mobile platforms and from the other side by the cloud. As a developer of desktop software [by choice not necessity], I believe it is time to address the challenges to our viability. Is software for the desktop PC now the living dead, or zombieware.' While conceding there's some truth to truisms about the death of the desktop, Sall believes there's still life in the old desktop dog, 'We live in a world of computing where dreams come true,' Sall concludes. 'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses. But at each step along the way, some applications find their best home – and other applications as well as new applications find the more convenient and smaller home better...So let's keep our desktops and laptops, our PCs and Macs. They are amazingly good at what they do.'"

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453 comments

make my day... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593785)

Go ahead. Fire up SolidWorks on your pad or phone. Or AutoCAD. Go On. I dare you.
Now tell me the desktop is dead.

Re:make my day... (4, Funny)

BreakBad (2955249) | about 5 months ago | (#45593999)

Desktop is dead (except for India) because all your SolidWorks and AutoCAD work has been outsourced. Enjoy angry birds on your smart glasses. Remember, buy Chinese!

Re:make my day... (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 months ago | (#45594115)

Even outsourced jobs require a desktop. Just they won't be sold in your first world market. Aaaanyway I don't see the desktop as dying, but I do see it moving into a niche for power users, developers and gamers.

Re:make my day... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594117)

Desktops are used a lot by the neo-Nazi movement and other hate groups to produce documents that further their intolerant and evil goals.

Re:make my day... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594203)

You know this, of course, because you are a neo-nazi.

Re:make my day... (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#45594163)

Rubbish.

The only people who can migrate are the people who only do Facebook/Youtube.

Reason: People who do any kind of job/work need a screen bigger than 10".

The PC market will stabilize again once those people are out of the way.

Not dead, just a mature market (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#45594003)

Exactly. For content consumption, small and mobile devices are very convenient. For quick interactions, they're OK. For serious content creation, they are just not the right tool for the job.

The trouble for the PC vendors is that for most serious content creation, desktops and laptops were already powerful enough a few years ago. Only those who really need local power, like creative media or CAD types in business or gamers at home, are interested in buying newer and more powerful machines often any more. For everyone else, the desktop isn't dead, it's just a mature platform and they already have it.

Re:Not dead, just a mature market (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 5 months ago | (#45594107)

Yes, this is the biggest issue. Mobile devices increase 50% in speed each year, while desktops are meeting everybody's needs so there's no reason to upgrade. My home laptop is four years old and showing no slowdown that impacts me. Work laptop is a little diff, because they always buy the cheapest hardware possible.

There are some task that are right for my computer! some tasks hath at are right for my tablet, some tasks that are right for my smartphone, NAND some tasks that are right for my game console. This isn't a problem.

Re:Not dead, just a mature market (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594119)

Exactly. For content consumption, small and mobile devices are very convenient. For quick interactions, they're OK. For serious content creation, they are just not the right tool for the job.

For consumption, that depends on how you define an entertainment system.

Plenty of hipsters define that as an iPad an a pair of $5 shitty earbuds for "surround sound entertainment." I sure as hell don't.

Re:Not dead, just a mature market (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 5 months ago | (#45594221)

Mobile devics are not better for all consumption. General internet browsing is still much better on the laptop/desktop because of screen size and fine manipulation. I only browse on my phone when I am out and need to browse.

Re:Not dead, just a mature market (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 months ago | (#45594295)

Exactly. For content consumption, small and mobile devices are very convenient.

Who exactly spends all of their time simply "consuming" on these devices? It's virtually impossible to spend more than a day online without feeling the urge to add to the conversation, and all iDink devices and touchscreen interfaces do is get in the way of that (2-way) conversation with the outside world.

As to the consumption itself, as far as I can see, everything is clunkier on touch device. Everything. Designers are having to make buttons and icons cartoon sized in order to accomidate simple viewing on these "computers".

I simply cannot accept the proposition that people are -- willingly -- going to accept a future of either creation or consuption on these restricted devices. Even if the whole industry collectively decides to abandon PCs, in a decade or so the current infants playing with iDinks will manage to "rediscover tactile touch based text input devices once called 'keyboards' " as a faster, better method of interfacing with their computers.

Eventually, some of them will even rediscover the command line as well.

Re:make my day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594259)

Go ahead. Fire up SolidWorks on your pad or phone. Or AutoCAD. Go On. I dare you.
Now tell me the desktop is dead.

With the appearance of holographic displays and the evolution of motion detection - it is a matter of time till your mobile device will help you design 3D objects faster and better.

Re:make my day... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#45594393)

Assuming bandwidth is available for both spooling print/plotters jobs and RDP (RemoteFX technologies used too), you could just run thin-clients throughout the office.

Every year (5, Insightful)

twocows (1216842) | about 5 months ago | (#45593791)

Every year we hear about how the desktop is dying and every year it doesn't. When will these idiots realize that desktop PCs are a niche that's not going to go away? It might shrink, especially compared to other forms of computing. But reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

Re:Every year (2, Interesting)

twocows (1216842) | about 5 months ago | (#45593797)

I guess I should finish the summary. What he seems to be saying is more or less fair and basically what I said. My bad.

Re:Every year (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594293)

Don't feel bad. It's not often that I can be bothered to even read the title. I usually just jump right in to the flamewars and trolling. We're a lot alike, you and I. Let's meet up and fuck each other's asses. I hope you're not afraid of a little HIV.

Re:Every year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593825)

The comments about the death of the desktop isn't for you, or me. It's for people investing in manufacturing of desktops, so they know that their ROI will be lousy.

Re:Every year (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 5 months ago | (#45594011)

So you're saying it'll eventually be a components market instead of a packaged product market?

Re:Every year (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594103)

Every year we hear about how the desktop is dying and every year it doesn't.

Except that it is.

Seriously, are you not paying attention to every single metric that tracks PC sales? They are in decline. They are dying. Or do you come from the school of thought(*) that says it isn't dying until it's dead?

Sorry, but the truth is simple - the desktop PC is dying. It may not vanish completely but it most certainly is in decline and manufacturers and developers would be smart to recognize that fact and make plans for it.

*That would be the same school of thought employed at RIM/Blackberry and Nokia...

Re:Every year (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 months ago | (#45594205)

Not dying, just moving towards a much smaller equilibrium point to reflect the size of their niche. Most people realize now that they can get all their computing needs from a phone. Some people will always need the raw computing power, the graphics power, the server ability, etc that only comes with a desktop. Poking around at a clumsy interface with your fingers is ok for occasional tasks, but keyboards and mice are specialized in what they do and so far nothing more efficient has come along to replace them. The same with multiple, big monitors. I have 3 23" monitors on my desk side by side - I love the horizontal real estate. It lets me track several things at once. Until you can give me a phone that I can plug my monitors, keyboard and pointing device to and that has the same speed, RAM and graphics ability I will be staying with desktops. I see no reason to "downgrade".

Re:Every year (3, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#45594289)

The incremental improvements in hardware performance haven't justified buying replacement computers for the last few years - that three year-old Core 2 Duo running at 3 GHz with 4 or 8 gigs of RAM runs everything the vast majority of users choose to run pretty well. For most home users the real bottleneck in their computing is the speed of their internet connection. Quad core CPUs don't make Facebook pages render that much faster. And Windows OSes have gotten better the last few outings (Win8 performs better than Win7 on the same hardware, Win7 performs better than Vista on the same hardware, Win7 and Win8 run better than WinXP on the same hardware.), and like it or not, most users run Windows OSes (some 90% or more, by some estimates).

What makes a fourth generation i3, i5, or i7 CPU/system so much better than a third or second generation i3, i5, or i7 CPU/system FOR THE TYPICAL END-USER?

The vast majority of new computer purchases are for either replacing dead/dying hardware or new users with no previous system.

but but.... (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45593801)

The Desktop Is Dead

Isn't 2014 going to be the year of the Linux desktop?

Re:but but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593945)

Just for the record, Android is a Linux distro. Linux already owns more "Desk Tops" and "More Displays" than all the others combined. But it isn't that sexy when you say Android ...

Re:but but.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594043)

No. Android uses the Linux kernel. That's not the same as being a Linux distro.

Re:but but.... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#45594077)

No. Android uses the Linux kernel. That's not the same as being a Linux distro.

no? how the fuck no? now it might not be saying the same as GNU/Linux so rms might be cursing his beard. but I don't understand how it is not a linux distro if ubuntu is

Re:but but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594235)

The Desktop Is Dead

Isn't 2014 going to be the year of the Linux desktop?

Linux did one better - it anticipated the death of the desktop, and jumped on board smart phones and tablets with Android.

Soon we'll be asking when it will be the year of the (successful) Windows tablet/smartphone.

Re:but but.... (3, Interesting)

plankrwf (929870) | about 5 months ago | (#45594409)

Have mod points, but will post instead:
Although your '...year of the Linux desktop' is a very old statement, my observation is that now (end of 2013/start of 2014) is indeed the year of the Linux desktop.
Just as last year, with the Nexus 7, it was the first time I felt comfortable giving a "non-iPad" tablet to my father, this time
when their XP laptop died, it was the first time I actually considered giving them a laptop with Linux on it. So I searched for that lone laptop which still had Windows 7 (and hence: no UEFI problems), installed Linux Mint on it (for the cureous: Mint Cinnamon, Petra, RC at the time), and let them loose with it. And so far they are really happy with it.
The reasons I could do this were:
- Linux Mint is a simpler experience then Windows 8(.1) and looks close enough to XP;
- Libre office (writer, calc) look close enough to the office version they had previously.
It is/was the first time I knew that giving them Linux + Libre office was a better choice then giving them Windows 8(.1) and the ribbon...

And this from someone that hasn't really used Linux since those early years when you downloaded Slackware on 40+ floppy's, and who uses a (Windows 7, fortunately) laptop from my employer.

Developing software (4, Interesting)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 5 months ago | (#45593811)

For the web, desktop, tablet or phone, PCs or Macs are where development happens. We often need more power than a laptop can handle, so we use quite a few desktop PCs. For the general public, tablets may fill the need, but for development there will always be desktops.

Re:Developing software (3, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 months ago | (#45593845)

nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now. Apart from the small screen (which can be good as a secondary thing to run your email or whatnot on), the laptop has as much power as your desktop.

I have a i7 laptop with 8 Gb RAM on it - that's plenty for development and running the dev environment, including db and services. If I need more than that, I'll be running the code on a server box, not a desktop.

Desktops are just cheaper, that's their only advantage nowadays.

Re:Developing software (3, Interesting)

santiagoanders (1357681) | about 5 months ago | (#45593903)

LOL. Let me know how long your laptop can sustain my desktop clock frequencies before throttling. It may have the same chip, but it sure doesn't have the same POWER.

Re:Developing software (5, Informative)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45593961)

Unless you are stress testing the latest and greatest PC games, very little development in my experience requires sustained high CPU frequencies. A lot of development requires little more than Notepad++ which I've got some decade old laptops that do quite well with that.

The primary limitation I've found at work has unfortunately been memory due to someone deciding 2Gb was just fine for a Win 7 machine. When running half of the corporate apps I'm already into virtual memory... ug. This of course has nothing to do with the power of laptops, just the unfortunate inability to get anyone to plug an additional $25 memory chip in my laptop.

Re:Developing software (1)

santiagoanders (1357681) | about 5 months ago | (#45594057)

And everybody must have the same usage patterns as you right? Unless you're "stress testing the latest and greatest PC games"? LOL

Just because you don't have demanding applications doesn't mean other people don't. Games aren't the only scenario.

Re:Developing software (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45594157)

Which is where "very little in my experience" and "most" comes from. No I'm not quoting research numbers, just my limited experience that from what I've seen a laptop covers a majority of needs with little trouble.

Re:Developing software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593981)

Long enough to compile WebKit, the kernel and half of the userland in between.

Of course, it would be faster on a desktop, but it's even faster on the the dual Xeon server running distcc somewhere in the basement, so why bother with a desktop? Give me a laptop with a docking station (!!, not some fucking MacBook where I have to summon demons every time I want to move it, because it has 50 wires hanging from every side) and I'll be much more happy.

Re:Developing software (1)

santiagoanders (1357681) | about 5 months ago | (#45594199)

Not everyone can justify spending that much money on a dual Xeon server.

Re:Developing software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594343)

To answer on a level you can comprehend:

OLOLOLOL
your bad

Re:Developing software (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 months ago | (#45594237)

Or the same ability to deal with all the heat that comes with that power. Anyway 8GB... I have that in video memory alone. System memory is 64GB. And yes I use it.

Re:Developing software (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 months ago | (#45593947)

nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now.

You forgot to add the "except for gaming" at the end of that.

Re:Developing software (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 5 months ago | (#45594171)

You forgot to add the "including for gaming" at the end of that.

FTFY, I haven't come across a game I wanted to play yet that my laptop couldn't handle. Sure you may still get marginally better performance out of a desktop, but a modern laptop is going to be good enough. After all most games now are targeted at console hardware, which is seriously lacking when compared to a laptop from just four years ago.

Re:Developing software (1)

Chatterton (228704) | about 5 months ago | (#45594291)

No, they are good enough even for gaming. It is true that i can't activate every little graphic options and set them to the max. But my 3 year old laptop is good enough to be able to play any recent game.

Now if you are one of these player that think that 160fps is not enough and they need mooooaaar power even if their screen can display only 50-60 fps. In that case, even your desktop should not be good enough.

Averages are OK, but high end still = desktop (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#45594395)

nope, modern laptops are just as good as desktops now. Apart from the small screen (which can be good as a secondary thing to run your email or whatnot on), the laptop has as much power as your desktop.

An average laptop might have as much processing power and RAM and disk space as an average desktop, but the upper bound on a desktop is still far, far higher. To pick an example someone mentioned earlier, you can't get a lot of laptops with dual fast processors and 64+GB of RAM, which is a good but realistic specification for a professional CAD workstation. If you're rendering video or working with high quality audio, you might be thankful for a local RAID array with a few TB of capacity (as well as the large SSD for OS/applications and probably networked storage for larger capacity, obviously).

Also, in terms of peripherals, laptops are stuck in the dark ages. I'll take my two large monitors (try driving 8+ megapixels from any laptop's built-in graphics), my ergonomic keyboard and mouse, my real graphics tablet for sketching and precision work, and my real surround sound speakers over whatever feeble imitation the best laptop you can find has to offer, thanks. Sure, you can plug all of these into a modern laptop (until you run out of USB ports, at least), but if you're going to do that and shove the laptop out of the way, you've just bought an expensive and less reliable/upgradeable desktop anyway.

Re:Developing software (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594421)

You are wrong in every possible regard.

Testing your latest map and reduce functions for 8 hours against a data set - before you decide "perfect" and drop it on 2,000 servers, is not suitable on any laptop. Especially not a mobile i7 with 8gb of wrong like you mention. We do real work - I'm not sure what you do.

Re:Developing software (3, Informative)

alphatel (1450715) | about 5 months ago | (#45593877)

Not to mention but managing all those virtual servers, real spreadsheets, serious management software - it's all desktop and 2-3 monitors minimum. Let everyone have their 'gadgets'. Serious PC/Mac users will remain there and leverage the smaller components for remote access or travel work. Productivity on a real system though is at least 150% higher.

Re:Developing software (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45594281)

The main thing is tables (including smart phone style devices) are primarily output, not input devices. They have input capabilities but it is extremely limited. A tablet setup as an extended screen to a desktop or just for use of reference materials in support of a desktop is extremely powerful. A tablet on its own is almost worthless (to me anyway) for development.

Re:Developing software (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45593991)

The concern I have is when you are developing on the same device that consumers are using, there is a good chance that what works on your hardware works on theirs and the costs of your development hardware are kept lower by the number of poeple using it. When everyone is using tables and developers are on desktop, the consumer devices may now differe drastically from development devices leading to compatibility issues, as well as development machines are now expensive speciality devices... hopefully it never gets that far but...

Not just that, but creating anything (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 months ago | (#45594033)

Tablets tend to suck for creation. There are limited exceptions, but for the most part a mouse n' keyboard, and a screen without your fingers in the way, are what you want for creating things. This includes software, of course, but also more mundane business things like financial spreadsheets, e-mails, and so on. It applies to other creative pursuits such as writing, video editing, and so on.

Basically tablets are reasonably good if you want to consume content. You can read a book, surf the web, etc with ease on a tablet. However when you start to talk creation, they are not as good. They can do in a pinch, but much better to have a real keyboard and larger screen.

What we are actually seeing is not desktops and laptops "dying" but rather maturing. The market is more or less done growing. However that doesn't mean it is going away. The two states are not "growth" and "death". Rather it can be stable.

We've already seen this in things like mainframes. Desktops didn't kill off mainframes. You can still buy them, and people do. There are more of them now then when there were only mainframes. However it is a mature market. There aren't many organizations that want one, and you don't replace them that often. So there's no growth, but it isn't dead by any means.

That's what is happening with desktops. Go in to a business, have a look around, they have not tossed all their computers and started playing with tablets and phones. There is a computer on every desk practically. However, as noted, there is a computer on every desk. They've got their computers. They buy for replacement now largely, not to increase the numbers.

The only people who think desktops/laptops are going to "die" are either kids who just play on their smart phone and don't do productive work with a computer, or idiot tech journalists.

You Should Get An iPad (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594079)

For the web, desktop, tablet or phone, PCs or Macs are where development happens. We often need more power than a laptop can handle, so we use quite a few desktop PCs. For the general public, tablets may fill the need, but for development there will always be desktops.

You should get an iPad an do like I do. I take my iPad down by the beach and then I tell Siri to develop new apps for me while I'm swimming. Then I jet over to Paris for dinner. I use the iPad on the plane to tell Siri to develop some web apps for me. On Friday I count the Bennies. I guess I could make Siri do that too, but I kinda enjoy doing that myself.

PCs are so dead, dude.

P.S. Watch out for my new Siri developed social networking, dick pic sharing website startup with accompanying Siri developed smartphone app. VCs are all over this thing. It'll blow your mind, dude.

Re:Developing software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594133)

Agreed. And besides development, there are often roles for desktop units which a laptop/tablet/phone cannot handle - ie: storage, printing, and connecting everything together.

Storage: Before you say, 'to the Cloud!', I have a 10TB server built inside an older case with an older mobo/processor (Gigabyte board w/ phenom x2 cpu) running FreeNas. I have room with the addition of a raid card and a drive cage (3 to 5 drives in the 3 upper 5.25 bays) for another 20TB for the cost of the drives and card. As more and more people create digital memories and have digital lives they need digital storage, and as the NSA snoops more and more, people are starting to realize that trusting third parties to store those files is not the most secure way to do it.

Printing: Face it, 99% of all printers are supposed to be connected to a computer via USB. While certainly a lot of things have been digitized, there are still many occasions when you need to print a packaging slip, a label, or just -something- for your records. While printing from mobile is getting better, it's still pretty convoluted. Right now I can print from my smartphone, via google Cloud Print, but face it, I still have to have a -printer- attached to a -computer- to do it. I'm not sure what iOS' solution is yet, as I don't have an i(device), but if I'm not mistaken, it's not much better.

Lastly, tying it all together: These desktop computers are really the way to tie it all together because they are the only way to -easily- connect to these other devices. Mapping to the storage server as a network drive gives the desktop access to the files. Connecting to the printer - plug and play. Then some client software and you simply remote into the computer to access it all from wherever you are.

Of course, some of the newer windows tablets might make this easier (connecting to local storage and printers), but the vast majority of devices sold are still going to be Android, and connecting to those local storage and printers is still a bit problematic. Until that's sorted out in a simple and effective way, the desktop will still have it's place.

not dead just people dont like windows 8 (5, Informative)

servo335 (853111) | about 5 months ago | (#45593815)

I can say as a computer repair / consultant shop the desktop/laptop is not dead. people don't like windows 8 and when i tell them i can still get windows 7 they are ecstatic and want me to build them from scratch a computer!

Re:not dead just people dont like windows 8 (5, Insightful)

Lester67 (218549) | about 5 months ago | (#45594081)

For some reason that is the 800lb gorilla in the room... Windows 8 did more to damage the Laptop and Desktop market than anyone is willing to give them credit for. (8 and 8.1 are actually not too bad... ON A TABLET.)

Not going away (1)

prisoner (133137) | about 5 months ago | (#45593833)

Something with a decent HID will always be around. It might be a tablet with a keyboard and mouse but it will always be around. The platform to consume content will relentlessly evolve but content creation has a pretty standard set of requirements for those humans that do it. This paradigm will drive the PC market to the niche where it might belong. Stuff that is truly creative and commercially viable generally isn't produced on an ipad and uploaded to youtube for your 31337 friends to fawn over. Yes, the bar to create this kind of stuff has been lowered but it still requires actual talent to do it.

personal computing (5, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 5 months ago | (#45593835)

The personal computer is not a form factor, it is a philosophy.
No dependence on centralized service, computing done by the user, for the user.
Unless done properly, cloud and toys (smartphones, tablets) are a regression into the mainframe era. Give your toys enough control and you'll see.

Re:personal computing (2)

gx5000 (863863) | about 5 months ago | (#45593891)

They already HAVE given their toys so much control over their lives it's frightening.... I probably won't live long enough to see the cloud fail, and get shredded to bits over security, performance and privacy concerns but I hate it when I remember who runs the show, the money and corps, not the technologists that see the train heading for the brick wall. Technology might have been brought forth to make our lives better, it was indeed funded to create more wealth for the yada yada yada.... I need to retire soon but I'm not obsolescent quite yet.

Re:personal computing (2)

Jahta (1141213) | about 5 months ago | (#45594123)

The personal computer is not a form factor, it is a philosophy. No dependence on centralized service, computing done by the user, for the user. Unless done properly, cloud and toys (smartphones, tablets) are a regression into the mainframe era. Give your toys enough control and you'll see.

Mod parent up! These days I use a laptop rather than a desktop; it's just more convenient. But it's still my personal computer. I'm not dependent cloud services, or even in some cases even a network connection, to do useful work; and I control the software and data on my device.

Maybe it's just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593843)

But, tablets and phones have shitty specs compared to a laptop or a computer.

I'd rather keep a 3.00GHz+ quad core x86 PC than some shitty 1.2GHz ARM tablet.

Different form for different function (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 5 months ago | (#45593861)

The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses

Each of those form factors has a different balance of convenience and functionality, with the smaller device being more convenient but also more limited. As the first post pointed out, you're not going to be running CAD software on Google Glass anytime soon. You might run a client interface to a server, but not the CAD software itself.

People like convenience most of the time, so we're quick to get smartphones and tablets, because they offer convenience doing the tasks we do most often. For bigger jobs than that limited hardware can handle, we'll move up to a bigger machine, sacrificing convenience for the necessary power. As technology improves and tasks can be moved down to smaller devices, we're also discovering new problems (and solutions to old ones) that fill in the gaps at the top of the chain.

The death of the desktop is not approaching any time soon. The death of computing's status quo is upon us, and has been for decades.

Just separate I/O from processing... (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45593869)

I know I'm crazy but I still think we need to separate the processor from the I/O devices (well I supposed a desktop kind of does that but...). I've always envisioned two types of processors, mobile (such as a smartphone, small but not as powerful) and non mobile (very powerful but does not fit in your pocket). Then all I/O uses wireless communications to the processor device.

So now you use your desktop from anywhere in the house with a wireless keyboard/mouse and wireless monitor. You want a little more mobility you can use a think client "laptop" that connects wirelessly to your non mobile processor at home or your mobile processor when not at home. Same thing with a tablet, no on board processor for your 10" touch screen, just wireless connection to the primary processor.

I suppose if it was worth doing this it would have already been done though. Must not save enough money by pulling the processing out of a laptop or tablet style device...

Re:Just separate I/O from processing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593987)

One problem with that is GPUs use a lot of bandwidth. More than any wireless can sustain.

Think playing a game over RDP. That's what it would be like over wireless.

Re:Just separate I/O from processing... (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45594007)

I've thought of streaming 3d data rather than pixel data but then the "thin" device requires a GPU which does lessen the simplicity of that device. Probably just a pipe dream.

Re:Just separate I/O from processing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594083)

So now you use your desktop from anywhere in the house with a wireless keyboard/mouse and wireless monitor. You want a little more mobility you can use a think client "laptop" that connects wirelessly to your non mobile processor at home or your mobile processor when not at home. Same thing with a tablet, no on board processor for your 10" touch screen, just wireless connection to the primary processor.
I suppose if it was worth doing this it would have already been done though. Must not save enough money by pulling the processing out of a laptop or tablet style device...

Latency is the problem with this, the internet connections the response time is not consistently low enough to have this as a replacement for our current solutions. You will feel a lagginess in many locations (and you will need one bigass mobile dataplan).

Re:Just separate I/O from processing... (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 5 months ago | (#45594191)

I'm talking about short range wireless applications, not long range like the internet gaming they tried a while back. That is where the mobile processor comes in so when you change location your thin devices can use your mobile processor (probably in your pocket) instead of your home processor.

Maybe. But it will come back soon. (2)

scottnix (951749) | about 5 months ago | (#45593887)

The reason desktop sales has slumped isn't just because of competing devices and the cloud. It's because there hasn't been a compelling reason to get new hardware for a long time. The reason is simple: game consoles. In the last 13 years, PC games have taken a very different course than the previous 20 years. For the better part of the 80s and 90s PC games were targeted solely at PCs. For the last 13 years game publishers have targeted Xbox[360], Playstation[2/3], as well as the PC with the very same titles. This caused them to focus on the lowest common denominator hardware; consoles. This had the unhappy affect of holding back their developers from writing games to fully utilize the PC. Therefor PC gamers didn't need to upgrade their computers with the same frequency as they did the previous 20 years. This caused a gigantic PC sales slump. I see a very large increase in PC sales in the next few years due to new lowest common denominator: Xbox One and Playstation 4.

My pad, phone and desktop should cooperate (1)

davecb (6526) | about 5 months ago | (#45593889)

I should be able to have my desktop use my phone and a password to do a 2-factor authentication, and transparently share with my pad, and with the older pad that lives in my office. I should be able to have one reference book open on the pad, a second open on the old pad, and a notepad program and open office open on my desktop, and cut and paste from any of them.

The author of the article does stats, while I write books and programs. I should have some serious support from all my hardware vendors for what I do for a living, instead of phone support for messaging, pad support for "consuming" media and desktop support for doing actual work.

--dave

same again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593901)

I do 3D design so I want a very large screen, blindingly fast rendering and a high quality mouse. The people who proclaim that the desktop is dead are usually talking from a very limited perspective on the use of computers as work tools. I find it hard to imagine being able to design a tablet computer, using only a tablet computer bu maybe in 20 years or so, when the tools and interfaces become a little more 'holodeck' like in their intelligence and intuitive operation we might be able to ditch the desktop as we currently know it, but we are a long way from that point.

The Title should say Long live the Tablet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593907)

Being picky, but i just can not stand every time I see this phrase used incorrectly, and it's almost always in the same wrong format where the same "king" is dead and being told to live long, which just makes zero sense if you even think about it for a second. The phrase "The King is dead, long live the King" refers to the first king dying and the next being crowned. When the current queen of Britain dies, and her successor will be a king, the correct phrase at that time would be "The Queen is dead, long live the King". Please don't let me see this again, or I might have to post for a second time in my life on Slashdot.

somewhat humble cofounder: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45593909)

I was suprised by:
"I've invested my life in it. My net value, it's all vapor, tied up in company valuations. It's not real. I don't go out and buy yachts or do other strange stuff. I spend most of my time working," he said.

Desktops are required... (2)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 5 months ago | (#45593929)

To develop the apps that run on smartphones, tablets, smart watches, HMDs, etc.

Desktop gaming beats mobile gaming and console gaming every day of the week.

Oh yeah, and what tabet are you going to use to download those 10 seasons in 1080p of your favorite TV series.

Yes, those use cases are incredily niche uses by today's standards, but they'll keep desktops alive for the foreseeable future.

Creators versus Consumers (4, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 5 months ago | (#45593949)

There is no true death here: only an inevitable and natural partitioning of platforms based on target usage. Desktop PCs had a good run (three decades) as a platform for both creation and consumption, but the world has changed. Phones and tablets are better-suited for consumption (literature, movies, music, games, web-browsing), but PCs are still the best practical platform for creation (writing, editing, composition, game development, web-site building). And yet this is all pretty obvious. Of course PC market-share will go down, way down, as it must. But the sensationalist media can't help but to bandy about terms like "living dead" when describing the desktop PC industry because - as any MBA is more than happy to tell us - in business, lack of growth equals death.

It's as though they have seized upon a mercantilist mentality of a world divided exclusively into winners and losers. World ain't like that.

I think creation and consumption on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594113)

the same platform is somehow important, and fueled a creative outburst that's not likely to be duplicated.

You're sitting there consuming content, and you think "Hey, I can do that better", and right there you have
the platform to do it. Things like Hypercard and being able to edit HTML by hand and view the file
in a browser made the capital investment low and the turnaround fast. With both these barriers very
low, a lot of people got into the action.

Re:Creators versus Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594217)

I would have to disagree with games being better suited for phones and tablets.

My wallet says otherwise (5, Insightful)

DEFFENDER (469046) | about 5 months ago | (#45593963)

Haven't you seen the Star Citizen promo? Here. [vimeo.com] The PC and it's capabilities are not dead to the tune of $33.7 Million USD and counting.

Just because a newer or different technology sells well and meets one segments needs (business) doesn't mean that the old one will die. I mean seriously, how many of you are still running a tape library out there?

methinks yout worry too much (1)

nightcats (1114677) | about 5 months ago | (#45593985)

Youtube (along with large HD displays) will always keep the desktop viable. TV/video in general will -- small may be cool and convenient, but big still has panache. And don't forget the demographics: those retiring baby boomers will continue to demand ease of use and visibility.

No. The Desktop Lives. (4, Insightful)

crow (16139) | about 5 months ago | (#45593997)

The desktop isn't even pretending to die.

Yes, it's not the big hot thing anymore. Laptops took over the hot spot a few years ago, but for the purpose of software, they're generally the same as desktops. Now tablets and phones are cutting into the laptop market.

But the markets are huge. Even a 90% decline would still leave a substantial market with opportunities for new products. It's only a problem for companies with established dominant products. If you are depending on upgrade or support sales to an established base, then a declining base is a problem.

The comparison to mainframe may be particularly apt. While everyone likes to talk about how the mainframe was replaced my mini computers and later desktops, this isn't really true. There are lots of companies with large mainframe deployments. It's still a multi-billion dollar industry.

Desktops are about the format itself (2)

Z80a (971949) | about 5 months ago | (#45594001)

While in the future you will be able to have a tablet that is like 10x faster than a current desktop, and it offers enough power to work on basically anything needed, the format itself of the tablet is bad for working.
The "virtual keyboard" is always worse than a regular keyboard, and as its a portable device, the screen will always be small and will need you to hold it.
Of course, you can plug a keyboard on the tablet, and can plug another screen on it or put it on a stand, but the end result? a battery powered, slow desktop computer.
Maybe the "computer" of the future will be a small box or a pendrive like device that will be plugged on several different "shells" for perform different functions.

What? (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 5 months ago | (#45594009)

There's many, many more PCs in the world than there were last year, and there will continue to be many, many more PCs next year.

Just because it's rate of growth is slower than it used to be, does not mean there will be fewer PCs used - PCs are not actually getting less popular, they're just not getting more popular at as fast a rate as before.

The 'desktop' is as necessary, and as used as ever - there's just fewer folks needing a new copy right now. The role of PCs in doing most of the creation of content, serving of data, and as a customizable platform will not be reduced - there's just other specialized devices getting into their own growth phases in popularity, consuming the content created by an industry of PCs and PC servers.

It's like saying that micro organisms are in danger, because they've filled most of the world, they aren't doubling in number periodically anymore, and other creatures that eat them are increasing in number. But none of those 'competitors' actually fill the same niche, and they all depend on the lowly class of micro organisms to function in the end.

Ryan Fenton

Re:What? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 months ago | (#45594299)

Er, the desktop market shrank by 20% last year. That's not a lack of growth, that's an actual decrease in size.

Steve Jobs explained it well (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594031)

The traditional PC is the truck. Not everyone needs a truck, so most people drive other things, but for those who need to do heavy work, trucks still exist.

Angry Birds Space (2)

StreetChip (870758) | about 5 months ago | (#45594047)

Desktop software lives strong. After all, Angry Birds Space (http://www.angrybirds.com/) is still available for the PC or MAC.

Uh huh, just look at the sad state of PC gaming (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 5 months ago | (#45594067)

Aren't they always saying that PC gaming is dying too--and have been saying that for a couple of decades now? For something that's dying, it sure still seems to keep kicking. It's got a longer death scene than Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs, I guess.

Re:Uh huh, just look at the sad state of PC gaming (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 months ago | (#45594423)

It's a slow decline into "one of many niches" rather than a "dead and gone" sort of thing. More and MOre the PC Gaming market is turning into the late Amiga game market. Games from US/UK developers that have little/no console experience....yet, but will do so eventually (Blizzard is a good example), Cross-platform games and Ports, and games from European developers too poor or too partisan to do console games.

After all there was a time not so long ago when die-hard PC gamers said things like:

You'll never have an action packed blood soaked slugathon like DOOM on a kiddie console.

Or.

You'll never have MMO's on a console.

Or.

Bioware and Bethesda will never do a console game.

Consumers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594099)

Yes, the PC boom for consumers is gone. What the PC market is losing is basically all the people who only ever used their desktops for cat videos, email and a little word processing. All of those tasks can be done on a tablet or a smart phone. Tablet's and smart phones however are not currently in position to replace the less mundane tasks.

However when my phone has the power to fully run Photoshop et al. and dock to a keyboard and my big monitor, then the PC may die, until then...

Here's a conundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594121)

How would all this mobile software be programmed if it wasn't for desktop systems with proper development environments?

This is beyond ridiculous (1)

X.25 (255792) | about 5 months ago | (#45594175)

Desktop/PC is not dead. It's just that people, until now, didn't have any other option than to purchase a PC, in order to do tasks they are interested in.

Now that they can get a tablet/phone to do this, they don't need PC. They never did. They just didn't have a choice.

The problem is a lack in innovation. (1)

plebeian (910665) | about 5 months ago | (#45594177)

why would I want to buy a new PC when my 5 year old quad core 3Ghz AMD system with 12 GB of ram with a R5770 graphics card can do 99.99% of what I want in a desktop. Honestly it boots and runs every program I throw at it almost as fast as the new $1200 I7 I have at work(as perceived by the human Eye and not some benchmark). If the innovation in desktop processors/graphics cards kept up with mobiles I would buy a new desktop. But for now there is no need.

Dominance Vs. "Dead" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594195)

Last time I looked in our server room, there were still some mini-computers hard at work. I know of companies that still have "Big Iron" running. While not dominant any more, both are still "alive". Yes the desktop form factor and even laptop form factor are in decline, they continue to server a purpose and will for many users, for many years to come.

What a desktop is (2)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 5 months ago | (#45594197)

People often forget to ask themselves what is a desktop. Most of you thinks that the desktop is a big tower stuffed in a desk, but the desktop is actually:

1) Big (by comparison to phones and tablets) screen.
2) Full physical keyboard
3) Mouse or other pointer device.

The tower by itself does not make a desktop. I think in the end you will just plug your phone or watch or whatever into a big screen screen with bluetooth mouse and keyboards to do your work. Your phone os will also have a desktop interface (like windows 8, but without sucking) that will come up when you plug a big screen.

The final device (1)

Exitar (809068) | about 5 months ago | (#45594319)

"'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses"

In the end we will have a device with no screen and a single button: "Like".

What's a desktop? (1)

mythix (2589549) | about 5 months ago | (#45594365)

The desktop was never even alive. It's called a computer. It runs windows. That's all people know. whether it's a laptop, a tower an all in one or in the future you phone that you plug a screen/keyboard/mouse combo in.

People don't care. shut up about the death of the desktop already.

As a developer, the only thing you should care about is on what OS it runs and what the input devices are, not if it's powered by a tablet or a phone or a tower or a laptop or a server or a "cloud".

Why are old people so desperate to have a big box next to their desk while hardware is shrinking to pocket sizes? Or do you really believe a mouse and keyboard are going to disappear along with that hideous box of yours?
i mean, have you ever tried playing a decent game on a touchscreen? oh no wait, you are an old fart too busy complaining about desktop sales decline.

Saturation? (3, Insightful)

sub67 (979309) | about 5 months ago | (#45594373)

Whenever I see news or discussion about dwindling desktop sales I don't see anything about market saturation. Computers are relatively durable appliances that people aren't typically going to replace without the need to do so.

When was the last time you replaced your toaster just for the hell of it?

No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594419)

They'll have to take my Desktop PC from my dead, cold hands.

PC Desktop as Privacy vs Security firewal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45594429)

Maybe the best use of the PC Desktop needs to be focused on protecting the user Identity and his/her Privacy. Like a firewall focused on protecting identify and privacy of the users of the system. First step would be to harden the desktop so we would at the very least, know the desktop is doing the owners bidding rather than a commercial interest or worse a hackers maliciousness. I want a desktop that feels like it's my private space to create, research, write, form ideas and communicate Privately at my discretion.

Creativity ... (2)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 5 months ago | (#45594433)

... cannot and will not be confined to a 7-inch screen. Nor can the range of artistic inputs be entirely duplicated by a touch screen. In time holographic displays and other technologies will displace some of the current hardware requirements to run, say, multiple displays, but we aren't there yet.

Not dead: just trying to grow up. (5, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | about 5 months ago | (#45594455)

The PC market (where P = personal and 'PC' includes Mac,Windows,Linux etc.) has had a 30 year honeymoon period during which specifications were increasing exponentially and real-time prices were dropping. Customers had a real incentive to upgrade their hardware and software every 18 months or so, because they were trying to to jobs that were pushing at the limits of their hardware.

Now, that has come to an end. Your 3-year old PC can effortlessly run a GUI-based OS like Windows 7, OS X 10.6 or your Linux distro of choice. It can do non-linear HD video editing fast enough for 'pro-sumers'. It can render web pages as fast as your broadband can deliver them. It can play FPS video games at 60 frames/sec, at levels of detail that are just this side of 'uncanny valley'. The only reason it would even break a sweat doing wordprocessing, DTP or spreadsheets is if the software is a bloated mess mentioning no names). The 4GB-8GB RAM you got is probably still enough and the only thing that can really fill up a 500G+ HDD for personal use is your video pr0n collection - for which cheap external HDs (convenient to lock in a cupboard) are available.

Of course, there are still specialist niches who need Moore's Law to keep rolling - but they will increasingly be looking at things like multi-GPU computing, clusters and the Cloud (£1 in the swear jar) rather than traditional Personal Computers.

Upgrading might get you a 10% improvement, but that's not going to turn your movie render from "coffee break" to "instant". I think the last, great upgrade for most people will be to switch from spinning rust to SSD (which does produce a dramatic speed up for many users) - after that, the only reason to upgrade will be if your computer breaks, suffers planned obsolescence or if the vendor sells you a stylish new model on non-technical grounds (Apple are the only real masters of that - possibly why they are doing less badly than others).

Sure, tablets and smartphones are part of the picture, but I suspect that it is more a case of people spending their spare cash on the latest fondleslab as a supplement to their 2 year-old PC rather than junking PCs for tablets.

There's also a case of self-fulfilling prophecy, with manufacturers obviously spending their R&D money on mobile devices rather than coming up with anything new in the PC line (beyond bunging touch-screens on their laptops) and software houses screwing up their offerings in a misguided attempt to make them more tablet-like (Windows 8, Gnome 3, Unity).

The only reason the PC will die is if modern hypercapitalist corporations decied that they can't be arsed to support a mature market that is no longer in its boom years and unlikely to generate short term windfall profits.

Quite frankly, computing could do with a few years respite from 'if it works it is obsolete' to give people a chance to finish upgrading their DOS software to a system that may still be around when they finish the job.

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