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The PC Is Not Dead

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the revolution-will-be-emailed dept.

Microsoft 451

Belle writes "Bill Gates has an op-ed in this morning's BW Online, in which he responds to the magazine's question Is the PC dead? with a resounding "No!" and argues that the most revolutionary years for personal computing are yet to come." From the article: "The result is that the personal computer has become far more than a cog in the machine of corporate computing -- it's an essential tool for every individual in the organization. Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt."

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Maybe next year, eh? (5, Insightful)

soluzar22 (219097) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014318)

In addition to Bill's reasoning, which I don't entirely follow, there is also the question of the hobbyist/games user. Business users may choose to go thin-client, but in my opinion, the user who is technically-minded will never be satisfied with any of the so-called replacements for the personal computer, and I don't personally think that any of these replacements will ever take off outside of the office.

If businesses switch to the 'thin client' model, or anything similar, then this will be a step backwards, technologically speaking, and it will be a decision which is based entirely on financial motives. Those who appreciate technology will have little reason to follow this lead, and therefore will not.

On the other hand, those home users who do not enjoy technology, who simply wish to treat their computer as a dumb interface to DRMed MP3s and the web/email will probably be delighted with a 'thin client'. There will still continue to be money in the other market for a while, though. As for 'thin clients' in the office, then I say, sure, they will take off there - it's a cost thing. They just won't kill the home PC. That's my take on this.

Last of all: Is it just me or does someone predict this every year? I first heard it in about 1996, and I'm still waiting! This claim wears even more thin with every passing year...

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014397)

Go away, you damn troll.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (1, Interesting)

theVP (835556) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014411)

Have you ever worked in a Citrix environment? Have you ever experienced using a thin-client for the course of a year or more? You might want to consider that fact that the computer is nothing more than a TOOL and not a decoration.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (3, Insightful)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014638)

the computer is nothing more than a TOOL and not a decoration

I disagree. I decorate my room with computers, you insensitive clod. I have one atatched to the wall behind me. This is Slashdot after all.

Citrix sucks compared to X anyway, except on the ease-of-use factor for the majority of business desktop users (open browser, click link on homepage, enter password, application appears). Come to think of it, I've seen X running that way too.

X uses a lot less resources on the machine where the application is actually be executed. It's only a matter of time before people start running apps in Wine on Windows, just so that the output can be displayed in a browser via X11. That'll be the best thing since sliced bread.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (5, Insightful)

plehmuffin (846742) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014474)

If businesses switch to the 'thin client' model, or anything similar, then this will be a step backwards, technologically speaking, and it will be a decision which is based entirely on financial motives. Those who appreciate technology will have little reason to follow this lead, and therefore will not.

Um, no. It's simply a realization that for some users within an organization, a full fledged workstation is not required. If someone is only using their computer for Office, web and email, it doesn't merit paying for a full workstation; a thin client will suit them just fine. Such a move does not imply a failure to appreciate technology.

Also, I wouldn't quickly right off thin-client server systems as being technologically backwards. It takes some amount of neat tech to make a thin client seem as, or near as, rich as a full workstation.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (4, Interesting)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014552)

Not to mention administration. The biggest time-waster at my company is fixing users computers (hell sometimes mine included). Updating, upgrading, trying to hunt down and unreg all the gator entries, ...

Administration costs are insane for large corporations. Thin clients make that task a little more manageable. Only problem is when the main servers go down you're killing not just one user but a whole organization.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (2, Informative)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014509)

Business users may choose to go thin-client, but in my opinion, the user who is technically-minded will never be satisfied with any of the so-called replacements for the personal computer

I would. Definitely. But maybe we're not talking about the same thing; I want modularization. I'd take the following over current offerings in a heartbeat:

  • Thin client "terminal" with a focus on graphics capabilities and human interface components (hardware)
  • Server backend (which I own the hardware for and have on-site) with massive computational abilities, easy to upgrade and add more capacity, and cluster.
  • High bandwidth, low-latency network for streaming media---both ways, so I can push 28-channel audio from my studio gear back to the server.

That would be nice. I could add more terminals where I needed them for a reasonable price (say $100 for a low-end model) and have the benefit of backend processing.

Of course, I guess you could pretty much do this today with some imacs and a server or something. Not for cheap though.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014569)

I agree. In that sense, the PC will never be dead. Different markets will have different needs, and while individuals have need of computing, they'll have personal computers. These may be highly optimized platforms like games consoles (eg optimized to one type of application) or more universal systems. Time has told us that people are never happy with a single, limited, box - when games consoles went up against home computers, the latter won. Games consoles only came back when it became normal to have both a computer and a console.

It's a li[tt]le like the ocean. You have your sharks and dolphins (big businesses and little businesses, with specific business needs), and you have your regular fish - clownfish, for example, for those who liked "Finding Nemo", and cod. While they all may swim in the same ocean and have similar needs, the fact these needs aren't identical means they end up eating different things. Sharks, for example, will happily eat seals, not so cod. What you end up with is a different style, sharks will not even hunt for their food in the same way as smaller fish. An algae-eater, for example, will constantly be feeding on the walls of coral and other areas where algae may hang out.

In the same way, centralised computer systems may make sense for businesses. But for individuals, families, and other households, they're just inappropriate. A large business can eat a seal and not have to feed again for a while, but an algae-eating games player needs localised power at their fingertips to provide them with the game playing environment they crave. Grandma, wanting to surf the net or write email, will want the computing equivalent of plankton, power available when she needs it, localized to her.

Personal computing will simply never die. It will go through periods of being more or less application specific, but I suspect if you were to draw an image of the average household in 2015, then, like it was in 1995, will you see a PC in every home. Just as you do more with your PC today - manage MP3 archives, view remote web pages, etc - than you did in '95, so will the PC of 2015 be a more sophisticated, more important, engine.

Re:Maybe next year, eh? (5, Insightful)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014655)

In addition to Bill's reasoning, which I don't entirely follow...

You're not the only one. Bill's article distinctly lacked reasoning, at least as would apply to rebutting what Nicholas Carr said. Carr's main point is that modern PCs are ridiculously overpowered for the needs of the typical home or office user. I couldn't agree more, and Bill's predictable road-ahead fluff piece didn't address that point at all. Yeah Bill, we know computers and software are going to keep evolving and all sorts of cool things are going to happen. But does the average desk jockey need a 3GHz processor, 160Gb hard drive and 19-inch LCD monitor to send email, run Excel and Word, and surf the web? No. That's all Carr was really saying.

1st Post!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014320)

First Post!!!! I made it you faggots!!!!

Seriously... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014330)

What dumbass would really think the PC is dying? Have they not been in an office or home lately?

Only if it's running BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014419)

then it's already dying

Re:Only if it's running BSD (1)

affinity (118397) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014498)

I thought BSD died last it was unable to build a driver (Adaptec) for for a raid card that hosted it's CVS (previous post)...

no shit sherlock? (0, Flamebait)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014333)

stupid question to ask at this point anyways.

just about as much value as asking..
is the car dead????? no.
is the bolt action rifle dead? no.
is pizza dead? no.

all might be true at some point in the future..

Re:no shit sherlock? (2, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014377)

Pizza isn't dead yet but it's only a matter of time. Didn't you see Demolition Man?

Re:no shit sherlock? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014401)

is pizza dead? no.

all might be true at some point in the future..
Never! Heresy! BTW, some guy named Guido wants to talk to you out back ...

The PC isn;t dead, just that so many ar filled with spyware, worms, virii and other crap that it might be more merciful and productive to give many users a "dumb terminal", or at least a web-based app that can emulate the functionality of one.

Re:no shit sherlock? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014470)

If anything the pizzia I got last week is now more alive then ever!

Yawn (5, Funny)

MoxCamel (20484) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014339)

Bill Gates says PC isn't dead. In other news, freedom is on the march, and be sure to get your free iPod.

Wake me when Bill Gates runs Linux on his Mac.


Re:Yawn (2, Funny)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014432)

Wake me when Bill Gates runs Linux on his Mac.

Yeah, some mornings I'd like to sleep forever as well. So wake me when OS-X runs on PC hardware.

IPod... Heh, how cute. Must... not... mention... Vorbis!

Re:Yawn (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014688)

Freedom is on the march? Says who? Name your sources, please...

Linux! (0, Offtopic)

redelm (54142) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014342)

Of course "the most revolutionary years are yet to come". MS will be deposed!

If you're running windows (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014345)

.....It will probably kill it.

semantics really (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014346)

Does a zombie PC count as alive? Can anyone confirm/deny?

Re:semantics really (5, Funny)

varmittang (849469) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014475)

Remember, kill the original zombie, and everyone who is a zombie returns to normal. So if you kill the head PC zombie (the hacker), then all zombie PCs will be back to being normal PCs. Until they get bit again.

Re:semantics really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014532)

Your thinking vampires

Re:semantics really (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014661)

Yea, so what ever you do don't start chopping zombie's heads of left and right.

Re:semantics really (1)

smackjer (697558) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014514)

Well, they're "undead", which technically means "not dead". So Bill is right!

PC is dead (5, Funny)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014352)

Java thin clients are where it's at. Sun has known this for years, and that's why they are doing so well in the market.

Re:PC is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014412)

Alright moderaters. This guy is trying to be funny []

Re:PC is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014448)

Yeah, and Oracle's stock price just jumped 200% thanks to Larry's Network Computing vision.

Im cynical. (2, Funny)

DeathByDuke (823199) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014355)

'Is the PC dead?' asked the reporter.

'No!' says the man who once said we all need only 640kbytes of memory...

In response to this article (2, Interesting)

Danimoth (852665) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014360) 2005/tc20050119_5359.htm [] Its an editorial piece in which the author basicly states that the PC has hit its peak.

Re:In response to this article (1)

klugerama (823835) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014521)

Hmm. I'd be concerned about a physician that would recommend phone numbers for funeral homes after telling me I've reached my peak.

This reminds me of the old joke that says something about all the money out there that Bill Gates doesn't have yet.

I kind of doubt the PC has peaked yet...there are still billions of people who don't have one, almost entirely because they can't afford it or think they don't need it, but the ceiling has been dropping for years. It will soon come to a point when affordability of a PC will be compared (at least on the level of necessity) to that of a home, car, or even clothes.

Re:In response to this article (1)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014683)

So, according to the author....the corporate IT departments, who allegedly can't manage, protect, and maintain corporate PCs and user data, are going to be able to set up a productive mainframe and thin clients that rely entirely on them?

That sounds a little scary.

zerg (4, Funny)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014372)

According to mc chris [] , "PCs are lame".

I recommend slashdot host a discussion panel, mc chris on one side, Bill Gates on the other.

Re:zerg (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014446)

has little to do with the point under discussion though, because macs are PERSONAL COMPUTERS just as well, which is the thing that PC in a question like this represents.

were the pc dead then apple would have to start scrambling on to thin clients or whatever..

Re:zerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014457)

That would be a debate, not a discussion, you fool.

Ah..billy billy billy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014374)

>> Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

Take the trojans, spyware, and spam out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

(Especially true for M$!)

That's funny. (5, Funny)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014382)

When they asked the richest man in the world, who happened to have amassed his wealth in the PC business what he thought about the PC business, he had nothing but positive things to say.

Re:That's funny. (3, Insightful)

twifosp (532320) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014546)

Yes, sor?

He amassed his weatlh in the PC business. One might say that's a measurement of success. One might also say that such a successful person is qualified to speak about it more so than a random journalist. If he says positive things about it, where's your pile of cash that qualifies you to argue about it?

Now granted, I'll immediately concede that most of Microsoft's success comes from less than ethical business practices and marketing, rather than technology innovation.

I'd also admit that I detect a bit of underhanded marketing any time Bill Gates says ANYTHING about the computer industry.

Having said that, I'd still take his opinion over some cynical slashdot poster or ill-informed journalist about the computer industry.

Questionable quality and poor business practices aside... they are managing to sell a lot of stuff to a lot of people without the use of gun point. Though, they do buy and stop the sale of a lot of things at legal gun point.

Oh, who am I kidding with this post. Sorry, I'll revert. MICROSOFT BAD! BILL GATES ARE EVIL! BRAINS!!!!

Re:That's funny. (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014646)

> Oh, who am I kidding with this post. Sorry, I'll revert. MICROSOFT BAD! BILL GATES ARE EVIL! BRAINS!!!!

That was pretty good. You had me there for a while. Then I realized it was the evil twin of 'Twifosp' from an alternate dimension.

I should have known from the evil-goatee beard you were wearing while you typed.

Re:That's funny. (2, Insightful)

Mac Mini Enthusiast (869183) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014563)

When they asked the richest man in the world, who happened to have amassed his wealth in the PC business what he thought about the PC business, he had nothing but positive things to say.

Not just that, but most of Billy's wealth is still amassed as stock shares, which is potential wealth. Ie, that wealth isn't really his yet. So if he ever says anything disparaging against Microsoft he'll LOSE a truckload of money if the share price goes down.

That's why I really don't understand why investors take the word of company executives seriously, the executives are merely trying to keep their stock prices high.

It also seems somewhat wrong to let Gates write journalism columns anyway, because of the above conflict of interest. It's more-or-less giving Microsoft free advertising space (Or - can anyone point out any message where Gates actually said something worthwhile and also negative about Microsoft?). While I'm sure many journalists own certain stocks themselves, Billy is in a whole different class. He owns enough stock to buy several small nations, so giving him a platform in a supposedly neutral magazine to advertise just doesn't seem proper.

Re:That's funny. (4, Funny)

macrom (537566) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014650)

In other news, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud announced that oil other petroleum products were excellent sources of clean energy, with no need to search for alternative fuel and energy sources for the next 10 years.

Well, There You Have It. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014383)

"Bill Gates has an op-ed in this morning's BW Online, in which he responds to the magazine's question Is the PC dead? with a resounding "No!" and argues that the most revolutionary years for personal computing are yet to come." Well, there you have it, I guess I might as well toss the thing in the bin when I get home. He's about as visionary as an american entering a water drinking contest in rural Mexico.

My head hurts from the market speak. (5, Insightful)

newdamage (753043) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014388)

I just read that so called op-ed piece and I think my ears may be bleeding from the sheer amount of marketing speak.

Bill may think web services are the next great thing for the PC "ecosystem" (WTF? when did my office become wild planet?), but quite frankly, he needs to worry about making the PC safe, secure, and usable first.

Re:My head hurts from the market speak. (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014494)

I too thought my head was going to explode from the rich empowerment of enabling verbage in such a diversely dynamic environment.

Bashing of his interests in the debate aside, a "Viewpoint" piece really should be devoid of marketingspeak, whether the author is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Linus Torvalds.

Re:My head hurts from the market speak. (1)

bob670 (645306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014674)

Of course, part of that responsibility and "safety" should fall on the user as well. XP can be run with little to no issue if you take some basic precautions, if this it too much for mom and pop to handle then maybe we need more web appliances? And overall XP is just as usable, if not more usable than OS X and is still years in front of desktop Linux.

Diverse Ecosystem? (5, Funny)

ninjamonkey (694442) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014390)

The only "diverse ecosystem" I know of lives in my dirty laundry.

Re:Diverse Ecosystem? (2, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014642)

The only "diverse ecosystem" I know of lives in my dirty laundry.

Is yoru underwear really "laundry" if you never launder them? Just wondering...

The PC is not dead? (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014408)

Can we really believe Gates on this? He's got a vested interest... maybe we should seek confirmation from Netcraft... they seem to be the authority on these matters.

Re:The PC is not dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014459) was running Microsoft-IIS on Windows 2000

so if it isn't already, it will be soon enough

Re:The PC is not dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014556)

Can we really believe Gates on this? He's got a vested interest... maybe we should seek confirmation from Netcraft... they seem to be the authority on these matters.

I think I know what Netcraft would say about those PCs that happen to be running BSD...

So...boring...losing...consciousness... (4, Insightful)

ChuckleBug (5201) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014410)

I hate this kind of tech marketing drivel. I'm not just bashing Gates specifically, and in fact I'd say this article isn't as bad as most, but it still boils down to a trite load of platitudes. You can summarize this kind of article easily:

"Long time ago dumb terminals look now richly appointed digital tapestry personal computing unleash potential provide collaborative strategic business enhancers future digito-infotainment convergence aggregation hub integrating synergies for advancement of opportunity. Buy more. Thanks. Oh, and thin clients suck, give people their own hard drive for all the above to happen. Thanks again."

Seriously, is there anything notable here? So very insight-free.

Dumb Terminals For Everyone (5, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014427)

Quite honstly, most users could work perfectly fine with a dumb terminal. All most office workers need is printer access, a web browser and basic office apps. Why do I need to set each of them up with a PC for that?

And now with Flash memory sticks, you can run entire environments separate from the OS entirely!

Re:Dumb Terminals For Everyone (5, Funny)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014525)

Quite honstly, most users could work perfectly fine with a dumb terminal. All most office workers need is printer access, a web browser and basic office apps. Why do I need to set each of them up with a PC for that?

Administrator Logs: March 22 2005

Remote Application Usage:
word.exe 14
excel.exe 9
access.exe 3
powerpoint.exe 53
sol.exe 13420194

We are at war.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014430)

"We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Gates waffles and backtalks more than any politician in history.

since the history books are written by the winner i wonder how Gates will be portrayed, evil capitalist, or savior of the human race?

Are you sure the PC isn't dead? (5, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014431)

What if it's running BSD?

"I'm getting better!" (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014434)

"I think I'll go for a walk." "I feel happy, I feel happy, I feel...(THUD!)"

Just One Question... (5, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014437)

I've heard things like "BlueTooth is dead" and "The MP3 is dead" and "Apple is dead." I've heard "3.5 Floppies are dead" and "FreeBSD is dead." In the world of technology, lots of things die... and lots of things are declared "dead" when in fact they aren't. That's fine.

But I think Gates' response should be modded "-1 Off-Topic." The article he's responding to [] doesn't say the PC is dead--it says the corporate desktop PC should die. Bill responds, "Nah, look at all the nifty things that are coming up to use more processing power!"

The argument in the original article seems to be that all the "nifty things" are precisely the problem--that they aren't improving the way we do business, just increasing the amount we have to spend.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that the original article is correct or incorrect, the above is just my analysis of the discussion so far.

Re:Just One Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014632)

large form factor PCs are the perfect crown to go with the Emperor's new clothes.

im sure there will allways be space for them in homes but with the cost per square foot of most office buildings its just not effective to use LFF PCs. where i work they switched from LFF to SFF PCs and were able to put 15% more people in teh same space, saving my company over $5million a year.

and thats just one building.

"People who don't see the Emperor's clothes usually get accused of lacking vision."

-- Alan Smithee

Personal computing today is a rich ecosystem... (2, Interesting)

affinity (118397) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014439)

that is fast becoming dependant on the network and the network's application. This is regressing the PC to a media rich dumb/network terminal...

Not dead but very sick... (5, Interesting)

ites (600337) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014442)

... the PC as an island of personal data is facing real threats:

- invasion from parasitical software
- competition from smaller devices
- competition from web-based services
- ever cheaper hardware

Of course I'm typing this from a PC and I can't imagine any other way of working, but still... in 10 years' time:

- would I have to move physically to a box somewhere in order to read slashdot?
- would I have my data sitting on a single hard disk somewhere under a desk?
- would I be surfing on the public Internet using the same infrastructure as I use to (e.g.) access my bank accounts or write contract proposals?

The PC as "personal computer" is running out of reasons for being... ... the future belongs to secure virtual infrastructure, secure distributed data, and redundant portable devices.

The PC will eventually be relegated to a keyboard, mouse, and screen.

The PC Is Evolving, Not Dying (5, Insightful)

WombatControl (74685) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014443)

What we're seeing is really the continuation of the gradual shift from "big iron" mainframes to "microcomputers" to PCs to PDAs to iPods. Technology is becoming cheaper, more flexible, and more diversified.

I think the traditional PC is close to saturation. Where the money is are in things like media center/home theater PCs, secondary computers, and specialized machines. Since most everyone has a PC, the real quest is to use PC technology to replace other existing gadgets.

That's why small cheap computers like the Mac mini and home theater systems like Microsoft's Media Center Edition systems are growing while the PC market itself is relatively stagnant in comparison to the boom years.

Of course, the massive success of the iPod also points to a totally new market for consumer electronics that interfaces with a traditional PC acting like a "digital hub" as Steve Jobs calls it. That's why media features like DVD burners, FireWire and memory card inputs and large displays are the big selling points in PCs these days. It's not about a monolithic device that makes you sit in front of it to do everything, it's about a whole slew of gadgets that work seamlessly together to perform different tasks.

The concept of the PC won't go away, but the way in which PCs are used is slowly changing. It's like evolution usually goes - the big creatures die out and those smaller more agile ones flourish in the aftermath.

Year after year (2, Insightful)

kaos.geo (587126) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014450)

Year after year some guru/tech hotshot pronounces the death of a key technology (last year Gates singlehandedly declared the death sentence of DVDs)
The truth is that these are plain shots in the dark.
IMHO the PC is far from becoming dead, and I am happily watching as tech honchos tear their hairs off as most of the world population refuses to upgrade their equipment/software in 2 year-cycles, and realizes that 1ghz of ANYTHING plus 256MB of ANYTHING plus a 20GB drive is more than plenty for the average user's websurfing, mail-sending and pr0n viewing! :P

Take the personal out of computing (1)

bitswapper (805265) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014458)

"Take the personal out of computing"

Isn't that pretty much what microsoft did/is doing?

Bill's right, though, that the most revolutionary years are yet to come. Linux's just getting started...

Microsoft: "Is the PC dead? No!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014461)

"But we'll keep trying until it is!"

Bunk (1)

HotButteredHampster (614950) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014462)

A thousand words from the pen of Mr. Gates, and not once does he make a solid case for the PC. He discusses capabilities and ubiquity, which he correctly points out has been brought by the PC. However, it does not follow that the PC will continue to be the provider of these, as new and more effective means to deliver are developed.

Meh. We'll wait and see.


This is about mid-level, office computer usage (4, Insightful)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014471)

I know that Gates is replying to Businessweek, and so he has to claim that PCs will continue to "empower workers" as they gain in processing power and capability, but if he wanted to make an even more convincing argument, he should have talked about home users.

As computers get more and more powerful, I think it's going to mostly affect the two groups of users at the opposite ends of the spectrum: super-users and home users. Super users are those who need all the power they can get, all the time. These are the people working in medicine, in modeling, 3D work, video, etc...

Then you have the home users. Why will this effect home users more than corporate users? Because home usersdo more things! They'll start experimenting with audio and video on the computer (many of them already do). They'll try to run the latest games.

Finally, you have the middle-of-the-road office computer users - probably the very ones that BusinessWeek was originally talking about. These are the people whose PCs are supposedly doomed. And they might be. But the PC as a whole (as the Slashdot title would have us believe?) Not a chance.

Just One More Vulnerability (1, Informative)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014473)

Every PC used by a computer illiterate (or at least average office employee), is just another excuse to get viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, etc.

These people couldn't give a shit about your responsibility to maintain security; they want the latest mouse cursors and to answer that email from Zimbabwe.

Remove there ability to affect the rest of the network. Remove their PC and give them a thin clien/dumb terminal.

Empowering workers! (1)

Mumpsman (836490) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014484)

"...there will be even more opportunities to empower workers and transform their productivity"

What, exactly, am I supposed to be transforming my productivity into? Because if it's /. posts, then the future is here now!

Reminds me of the quote from "Scandal" (1)

tjrw (22407) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014491)

aka the film about the Profumo Affair.

"Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?"

Boss, I finished writing the Business Week article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014492)

I boiled down your book "The Road Ahead" to two pages and sprinkled a couple references to Web Services, cell phones and Tablet PC. Good?


Isn't Bill always like this? (3, Insightful)

Mr. Cancelled (572486) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014493)

It seems like every interview I see with the guy, he's going on about how computing's future is so bright ya gotta wear shades, so-to-speak.

And then shortly after such claims, he always follows them up by pointing out that Windows will, of course, be there, paving the way for the next wave of computing.

There's something about overly optimistic people that make me immediately doubt what they're claiming. Bill's no exception... By always ignoring the bad (Windows exploits, virii, etc), and gushing about the very operating system which is causing most of these problems, he really paints a picture of someone who's totally out of touch with the modern computing scene.

To me at least...

Yet, Windows isn't geared toward business (5, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014501)

The more you work with their bread'n'butter OS, the more you realize that Microsoft gears their software towards the home user, not the business. Enterprises are challenged to make XP conform to sound security models. Little things such as the fact that Windows Media Player overrides a screensaver lock by default (and good luck getting the group policy to fix this in Active Directory), to the assumption of root access by default on the XP workstation much less in the NOS itself (try changing the default network access from anything but the default -- suddenly, you can't view other machines in network neighborhood and users can't change their own passwords). Bill Gates gives "business" tongue and cheek service whilst his developers write an OS for the home and for entertainment....

Automation (1)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014506)

Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

Isn't this what a good expect [] script is for? ;-)

South Park had it right (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014507)

General: I thought this new Windows 98 was supposed to better?

Gates: It is!! Over 78% more [BANG! the general shoots him in the head]

[Gates falls dead]

He is correct (4, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014508)

I don't see the PC leaving us either today, tomorrow or next year. People walk around with them (laptops) so they can work away from the office, or they have their own special programs on their machine.

I think what he misses the opportunity to talk about isn't if the PC is going away, but "does Windows matter"? The last company I was at switched 95% of the company to Open Office to save costs (a 400 person environment for huge saving for them). Many of the penetration testers and security analysts I work with now use Macs because they can get to all of the UNIX tools they need without having to reboot into Windows to work on Microsoft Office files. (I know, they could do that in Crossover, but the Macs are easier - and these are hard core OpenBSD/Linux guys).

So the question is, does Windows dead? No, not yet, and I think like IBM they will always be around. But others are nipping at the heals, between Firefox on one end, consoles (which is eating away a lot of the game market from the PC), Apple is rising again (back to 5% by the end of this year by some analysts) - so MS can't just use the monopoly as a battering ram to force Windows on everyone.

They kind of remind me of Napoleon's march in Russia. Lots of momentum, big army, took over everything - but over time, the things that Napoleon couldn't fight (the weather, like Free software compitition), or supply chains (consoles eating away at the game market), or just dumb luck (Apple's iPod success turning into a method to draw users to buy new Macs, especially at $600 a pop) brought him down. Maybe 10, 15 years from now we'll look back at a market 33% Windows, 33% Apple, and 33% Linux (on the desktop - the server I imagine will be 40% Windows, 40% Linux/Unix, 20% Apple) and wonder how it all happened.

Funny that one of Mr. Gate's big heroes is Napoleon. I hadn't remembered it until I was almost done writing this.

The PC isn't dead, but PC innovation is (5, Interesting)

pocari (32456) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014513)

Typewriters were around for a long time virtually unchanged. There is no doubt that the Intel/Microsoft platform has become the Wang word processor of the 21st century, essential to every office.

The circumstances that led to the PC revolution are long since past. When the anti-trust case against Microsoft was settled four years ago with no consequences, investors and entrepreneurs were told that there is no reason to bother to do anything Microsoft might have an interest in, because Microsoft would be free to use the Windows monopoly to crush them.

During the dot-com boom, almost all software talent went to Internet development, sucking the oxygen out of innovation meant for the PC. Bringing things on-line is important and valuable, but the 10,000th brochure website, or even the second on-line bookstore, is not innovation.

The dot-com crash in Silicon Valley has meant the loss of 400,000 jobs there and 400,000 people moving out of the valley. It's debatable how much of this is due to outsourcing, but for every job lost to some other location, that's one fewer young engineer cooking up ideas in a garage. India and China have gained, but the software industry has lost something by the scattering of young talent; the disappearance of tech veterans has long-term consequences, too.

There are still business opportunities in cleaning up security messes and customization of enterprise software products, and there always will be, but none of this really counts as innovation.

When I moved to Silicon Valley in 1995, it wasn't obvious that Microsoft was going to dominate the way it does today, or that the Internet would suck the oxygen out of other kinds of software projects for a while. The smart money and adventurous people have moved on to other things. Forever.

Garr's Idiotic Sturm and Drang (1)

stonedonkey (416096) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014518)

I don't know about you guys, but my company, on the order of 350 people nationally, doesn't upgrade every time a new CPU comes out, and we all have at least one computer at our desks. And as we all know, weak security is overwhelmingly a Windows problem, not a PC problem. Oh, but he said it happens every couple years. Oh, but before that, he implied that it's a constant stream of upgrades. Never mind that security has overwhelmingly been a Windows problem, not a PC problem. Twit.

And when it comes to hosted apps, that's probably more cost-effective in the long long as you can guarantee rock-solid uptime and consistently updated security...Oops. Better not be using PCs for that task, eh? Twit.

There, now you don't have to wade through Gatesian propaganda.

How long have we been hearing this drivel? (3, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014520)

"The PC is dying; it'll be replaced by single-purpose Internet enabled devices".

Not only is the PC not dying, it's uses are being expanded more every day. And the onslaught of gaming consoles certainly hasn't hurt the PC, or PC gaming. If there was ever an "Internet enabled PC killer", that should've done it. Keep in mind that many of the people predicting the PC's demise are manufacturers of these competing devices. It's in their interest to tell you not to buy a PC, but to buy their gadget instead.

PC Economics according to Microsoft: (4, Insightful)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014527)

"For a few hundred dollars per employee, companies can now empower their workers with raw processing power that would have been unfathomable just a few years ago. "

Cost of Windows XP Professional: $299 plus taxes.

Cost of hardware: apparently $0

Personal computing will thrive, but the PC won't (1)

Nooface (526234) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014533)

He is right that the most revolutionary years for personal computing are yet to come, but the "PC", as defined by an Intel Processor + a Microsoft operating system, is dead. That doesn't mean that the PC is somehow vanishing or becoming irrelevant. Mainframes and minicomputers were once also thought to be obsolete, but those platforms continue to be used widely today. It simply implies that, like its predecessors, the PC will remain important, but its central role as a driver of innovation in the technology industry is waning. The real growth and innovation is happening with new kinds of devices that are definitely "personal", but have a completely different design from the classical "PC". For example, worldwide mobile phone sales jumped 30 percent [] in 2004, reaching 674 million units. That compares with PC shipments that grew 14.2% [] to 176.5 million units. Other devices like handheld music players are just getting started. These types of devices will define personal computing for the vast majority of users in the future, not PCs.

PC is dead! (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014539)

Yay! I'm going to celebrate by planting a big kiss on my boss' lips (she's female). Then I'm going to e-mail some dirty jokes to everyone. Finally I'm going to change the sign on the HR department to MAN department. I'm so sick of this political correctness.

I'm confused (2, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014548)

If, as he suggests, the "Web-services revolution blurs the distinction between information, applications, and services on PCs and mobile devices", how exactly is the PC "the centerpiece of the innovation"? Wouldn't Web-services, and thus Web standards and networks, be the focal point?

For digital rights, the PC must live. (2, Interesting)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014550)

The PC (and the Mac, etc) must survive in order for us to retain digital rights.

It is a lot easier to overcome fair-rights-denying DRM on a console where you can run and write programs that do this for you. It is a lot harder on an "Audrey", an iPod, or a Palm Pilot.

Do you think there would be anything like "PlayFair"/ hymm (which let us listen on our own machines to something we paid for) for iTunes files if iPods typically were connected directly to the Internet for music download, and there was no PC or Mac in between?

No surprises there... (1)

what_the_frell (690581) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014570)

This statement coming from the guy whose main bread and butter came from the PC industry, and will be firmly cemented there for quite some time.

And there is much of my quarrel with BillG (4, Interesting)

mwood (25379) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014585)

Certainly some computing should be personal. But some is not and should not be. I have to work ten times as hard on Windows PeeCees as I do on other computers to get them to do impersonal things, like send me a summary of their own activity for the last week without my having to push a button.

Some very useful computation is not personal, interactive, exploratory, or "an experience". And Microsoft traditionally just didn't "get" this. Like the old robots in Asimov's "Runaround", supposedly automatic processes just won't go without a human in the saddle giving orders. They are getting better at this, but still have far to go in order to catch up with the 1960s, let alone the 21st century.

I often laugh bitterly when I hear about the "increased productivity" attributed to gadgets that make me do everything manually rather than just doing the work and sending me a note on how it went.

If you want my recommendation for your software product, ask yourself, "would there be any point in having this run automatically when nobody is around?" And if the answer is "yes", *make it easy to do so*.

of course not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014586)

here i am typing on it just fine, and nothing at all is wrong wi

Grinding to a halt... (1, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014597)

> Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

Companies like, oh say... Microsoft.

Bill Gates- "The PC is not dead... (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014617)

... that blue screen usually dissapear after restarting it"

Bill should know (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014621)

M$ has 5ki77z kidtalk.mspx

Here it comes (0, Offtopic)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014629)

I'm just waiting to see how many comments until someone pulls out all the Apple/OSX/Mac knee-jerk partyline stuff, and then everyone else either counters it or gives the already trumped excuse of "if only their hardware didn't cost so much..."


(i'm a schnoock, i know ;))

the pc is dying (1)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014665)

And the DRM and MPAA and the.... are the ones instigating. Only time will tell, but I've always felt PC's are mostly a novelty and the ONLY thing that has kept the buying public in lockstep so far has been the ongoing promise of "This time we really really mean it when we say we've vastly improved it (Microsoft, especially), and it is MUCH easier to use...", with the implicit eventual promise PC's will become sublime. If you've ever read the Peanuts cartoon, and remember the ongoing relationship between Lucy and Charlie Brown with Lucy promising "this time" she won't pull the football away when Charlie Brown tries to kick it, you may have a feeling for whay I think the PC industry is pulling off (away?).

The only way PC's will become sublime is when they've sublimated into the background as os's tend more and more to be implemented as embedded technology, thus making other ordinary items and appliances more efficient, more effective, easier to use, more powerful, etc.

Let's face it (IMO)... computers are amazingly complex machines, and it's close to a miracle they can be navigated at all, but I'm not seeing any evidence they are becoming easier to use, just more confusing. But I AM seeing evidence of people throwing up their hands and giving up... (my neighbors have gotten rid of their computer, my parents only keep theirs because I PROMISE to continue to help them and support them with it.... many others I know never use their computers and say they really don't have a need for further purchases...) Maybe the marketing machine can continue to sustain the PC marketplace, but I doubt it...

Not dead, but loosing the mindset wars (1)

Sr. Zezinho (16813) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014666)

The issue is not whether the PC is dying or not [insert Netcraft joke here], but that the landscape around it has changed. Gates is correct when he talks about a "rich ecosystem", but he isn't able to support is idea that the PC will remain the dominate force in the future.

He also isn't able to justify how can the PC bring more productivity to the office. I haven't seen any signs of that lately, but maybe I've been working in the wrong places. I can see increases in productivity in replacing the PC in many situations, though.

It is hard to defend that the PC era is just beginning when so many of us already dont have some of our most important information on a PCs: our email, contacts, personal photo archives are often elsewhere.

The article is a bit strange because it identifies real trends, but jumps to illogical conclusions. It is a sign of the times that Bill Gates can't offer any clear vision of the future and that the reality that he describes can exist without Microsoft.

Slashdot is dead! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12014671)


Mr. Gates has selective memory (4, Insightful)

imnoteddy (568836) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014692)

From Mr. Gates article:
Back when IBM (IBM ) launched its first personal computer in 1981, business computing was a scarce resource. If a company was large enough even to afford computers, they were mostly so-called dumb terminals hooked up to large mainframe computers.

Mr. Gates seems to forget the Apple II, which a lot of businesses owned before 1981. IBM did not create the idea of personal computers for business, they merely responded (grudgingly) to their customers.

Bill should know this - unless he's forgotten that his company existed before 1981 - he's no doubt just trying to spin it his way. In any case he doesn't actually address the issues in the original article which argues that intranet/internet based applications will make life easier for corporate computing.

People who can only spin the past are likely to be spun by the future.

PC inefficiency (2, Insightful)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014694) Retail the PC is responsible for customer wait times at the checkout counter - compared to 20 years ago transactions depended only on the skill of the cashier not PC software. Automotive service car repairs require as long as 20 mins. for a Service Writer who's sole job is only to intake cars and enter their problems into the computer - compared to 20 years ago the car got dropped off someone took the keys and you were on your way 10 mins max. Healthcare PC's stop your every point of progress through the system to verify your birthdate, name and address - compared to 20 years ago a nurse asked what you needed to see a doctor for took 5 mins.

Embedded is the New Personal. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014697)

PC's aren't dead, they're just cheaper, and easier to use, and everywhere, and not just running the same operating system, and not exclusively a Microsoft thing, any more, either ..

What is dead is the "use the desktop war as a straw man" tactic. Too much code written for that to be a nuisance now!

thanks.... (1)

crumbz (41803) | more than 8 years ago | (#12014700)

I love the tagline.

"Chief Software Architect"

yeah....thanks alot. At least he is man enough to take credit for Windows.

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