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Gates Claims PC Era Not Over Yet

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the print-still-dead dept.


An anonymous reader writes "Bill Gates has collaborated to pen a response to the Wall Street Journal's recent claim that we are at the end of the PC era. From the article: 'The reality is a little different. The truth is that the model which has fueled the incredible popularity and affordability of the PC will continue to drive innovation and choice in the burgeoning area of personal devices such as cell phones, digital players and mobile PCs. As such, the PC is becoming more important and popular as a key enabler for these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world, from Indianapolis to Istanbul. If anything, it is, to paraphrase Churchill, perhaps the end of the beginning: the end of the first phase in the life of a young and evolving technology that is just now becoming as ubiquitous as the TV or the automobile.'"

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Gates? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348078)

So now we take Gates' sayings as gospel?

Re:Gates? (0, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348168)

When a robber baron [] speaks, the media has to treat it like gospel. Especially on Slashdot. ;)

Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348205)

So now we take Gates' sayings as gospel?

And why not? Hell, I'm still running under 640k and I don't think that the Internet thing will ever catch on.

correction.. to paraphrase Steve Jobs (-1, Flamebait)

acomj (20611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348080)

The computer is the hub of the digital lifestyle..

I wonder if Gates watched that keynote from apple 4 -5 years ago now..
Can't he be even a little bit original..


That's why it will die (3, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348246)

The PC is just that, it is a hub for the devices to hang off for interfacing, connectivity etc. As devices become more capable, the need for a hub falls away.

For example, let's look at internet radio. First off you played it on your PC, then came a range of products that give you remote playing of streams via a PC - but still needed a PC; now a Nokia 770, Palm TX or similar or even a dedicated internet radio player can play internet radio without a PC in the loop.

I need a PC to download stuff from the internet onto an ipod. If the ipod got smart enough (which it probably will soon, or it will lose out to competing products), I'll be able to download podcasts etc directly from a Wifi connection with no PC involved.

As a hub, the PC will surely die just like the need for a ethernet switch falls off as Wifi takes over. Indeed, we're already seeing places where ADSL modem/router with integrated Wifi AP results in completely cable-free installations.

Re:That's why it will die (4, Insightful)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348445)

So I guess this means that I will need the following devices?

-Music Device (downloading from wireless Internet)
-Web browsing device (containing USB port and a really good battery to transfer data)
-Image/Text viewing device
-Word processor device with external keyboard and integration with web browsing device
-Compiler device for various programming languages

Sounds like fun. Now, what if we put all these together... wouldn't that make things so much easier and less painful?
Hmm... what do we have now?
Ingenious! We have a Mac!

Yep, devices are becoming less dependent on PCs and it's a great thing since it makes them useful on the go, but the personal computer is still important to maintain common sense in this whole thing -- sometimes a device can become TOO independent. Do we really want our portable music players, eBook readers, day planners, and keyboards to all turn into proprietary PCs?
One company doing that, in my opinion, is quite enough.

Re:That's why it will die (1)

teknomage1 (854522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348477)

That's all well and good for consumption, but what about content creation? I'm pretty sure an ipod is no replacement for a mix board, and a camcorder is a pretty crappy non-linear editting solution.

E's N idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348248)

So does that mean 5 years ago's speech about embedded everything under the sun was all a pack of hoo-ey...? Methinks if Gates is on it then it's wrong.

Steve Jobs copying MS (2, Interesting)

Branka96 (628759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348305)

The idea about making the computer the hub for digital cameras or digital music didn't originate with Apple. Micorosoft used the concept when introducing Windows Me.
Take a look at CNN Tech [] from September 2000, where the representative from Microsoft states that "Microsoft wants to make the PC act as a hub for other kinds of computing activities".

More likely... (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348326)

SUN's old saw "The Network is the Computer" is already supplanting the notion of a "desktop." The desktop is scarcely the "hub" even now. It's just a node.

gates is right (5, Insightful)

Noishe (829350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348082)

hotels aren't going to put their front desk software on a phone, businesses aren't going to hire people to work on pda's.

I heard another interesting piece of news today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348184)

While the housing market seems to be cooling, the era of living in houses is not coming to an end. I believe it was Dr. Obvio...No, Captain Obvious who was quoted. It's just that kind of wisdom that makes you a billionaire.

Re:gates is right (5, Insightful)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348194)

No, but wouldn't a hotel be better served by using a thin client (Sun Ray or somesuch)?

Many of the places we use PCs are single task workspaces. A low power, low maintenance thin client would work just as well, cost less and be more secure.

The general purpose workstation will always have their place but are expensive overkill for a lot of tasks. The mainframe had some things right all along.

Re:gates is right (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348511)

Companies rarely choose the best product. Thin client stations have been around for ages, but companies buy PCs. They will continue to do so, and most companies will insist on Dell/Intel/Windows regardless of whether or not those are the best choices.

Re:gates is right (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348211)

Hotels and businesses use workstations, not PCs. Although the simularity is almost identicle, there is a fundemental diference. One is a personal computer that does things a person wants it to do. The other is a work station that allows an employee to get work done. The distinction between the two is more of neccesity verses luxury.

I'm not sure they count workstations in the same catagory as personal computers. While thye may be identicle, the fundementals of its neccesity is different. A PC can also be a server. On the same level, would we don't call a pc acting as a server a pc for much the same reasons.

I know of a small but struggling computershop that alost closed it's dorrs because it was trying to market PCs to business'. They went from selling PC's to workstations and increased sales and support revenue. Then one young exec eventualy got lazy and called it PC again just as thier sales droped off again. They never change more to the product then the name (exept gaming rigs). I subed support calls from them and watched this happen as they tryed to remake thier name several times. They are now out of business and i think it is possibly because when they sold PCs, their customers tended to be regular persons and when they called them workstation they tended to get lots of small business sales. I'm not sure why they couldn't split the difference and sell both. It was basicaly the same beige box setup for both (except with gaming machines)

Re:gates is right (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348432)

Although the simularity is almost identicle, there is a fundemental diference.

Mr President, I'd like to be the first to welcome you to Slashdot...

Re:gates is right Or is he just (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348277)

stating the obvious?

It's pretty obvious that, as you say/repeat, phones and computers are not good matches for replacing computers.

Seems there article writer stood to benefit from gates' co-authoring, and gates gets to put his name against something in wide print...

Re:gates is right Or is he just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348353)

Except that the "co-author" is the CEO of Intel.

Re:gates is right (2, Insightful)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348323)

I think there's more to it than that. Mossberg's logic is flawed for a few reasons. The iPod's success might stem partly from its integration with iTunes, but I think it's primarily just due to the job Apple did on the device itself. Apple really beat Archos and Creative. Then Microsoft was in the position of playing catch-up (where they primarily targeted the video player space) and on the mp3 player, the device firmware is still primarily done by the Mp3 manufacturers. It's really not appropriate to say that Apple beat Microsoft, since Microsoft was never in that game. Suggesting that openness and choice are not as important in the "Post PC Era" is not right. What choice and openness have users had? 3rd party software is not supported on an iPod and it's not supported on a windows portable media device either really. Even the stuff that runs Linux is not really open since it runs so much proprietary stuff that you can add 3rd party applications with "hacking it" and breaking the warranty. That's hardly open. The most significant part of the "component model" as Mossberg calls it is the fact that devices you buy under the "component model," which has only been PCs to date, can evolve. They are not static, like most CE devices. I've had computers I kept for many years and I continue to upgrade them and customize them to my purposes. As a result, they have a lot more value. Not so with the "device model" devices, ie everything else. if my DVD burner is missing a feature or has some annoying bug, it's very likely it will never get fixed. In theory, it's true that a company like Apple could take on that entire evolution of products themselves, but is it realistic for one company to take on that entire investment? The benefit of 3rd party applications is clear even on Apple's systems. Actually I think the next era will belong to linux on devices where there is no entrenched party and the playing field is more level: []

Re:gates is right (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348346)

Yes... Gates is right, the 'commodity' PC has got lots more years left. OTOH, the drive towards 'specialized PC packages' - which include Hardware AND Software tailored to the needs of specific segments like Hotels, Hospitals etc. will gain momentum.

The days of a truly general-purpose device from Gaming to Book-Keeping may indeed be over. To that extent, Gates seems wrong.

Re:gates is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348398)

lol yes they are

Re:gates is right (1)

jhoger (519683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348444)

I'm not sure why no one is understanding Mossberg's piece but here goes:

He is saying that the model of buying a white box PC or making one from commodity components might be replaced by an end-to-end solution like a Mac running OSX integrated with Ipod and other hardware. He's not saying desktop computers will go away, but maybe the generic PC built from OEM parts will.

The user experience is better when the software vendor only needs to target a non-moving target for hardware. Also, it gives an opportunity to focus on an integrated UI, and look-and-feel. People really do want their computers to "just work" and be easy to use/

However, I think consumers are being price sensitive when it comes to buying computers. Maybe people would accept an end-to-end solution, but not everyone is going to be willing to pay a price premium for an Apple, or whoever comes along next offering an end-to-end experience. The Ipod got lucky because it's price doesn't hit the > $1000 pain threshold desktop PCs can get to.

-- John.

Re:gates is right (1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348643)

>> hotels aren't going to put their front desk software on a phone, businesses aren't going to hire people to work on pda's.

perhaps not, but picture a hotel with wireless handhelds where the bellhops check guests in..

or in lower-budget chains, self-service kiosks..

or the guest checks himself in via his own phone, and via bluetooth (or other close-proximity wireless technology), his phone becomes his room key.

maybe it's the hotel front desk clerk that's on their way to obsolescence. to be replaced by personal (or business) assistants or concierge services, both requested via the hotel's intranet through the guest's cell phone or in-room interactive tv.

Re:gates is right (1)

drivekiller (926247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348723)

In other news, everyone whose income doesn't derive from Microsoft marketing efforts is sick and tired of "innovation and choice". Time for some new marketing buzzwords.

Shocking (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348083)

So a guy who makes his living selling a product is telling people that the product is something worth buying.

I would have never expected such a thing.

Translation: (4, Funny)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348090)

Hold on, we REALLY might come out with Vista sometime in the next 5 years.

I do happen to agree with him, the PC isnt' going anywhere. Cell phones are overhyped, they are just too limited. But he does have an OBVIOUS bias and motivation.

Re:Translation: (2, Insightful)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348134)

The PC will always be around, but it's no longer driving the tech marketplace. Cell phones aren't a substitute, but they're one of four or five things, which, in combination, leave the PC in the support role.

PC's will be used to produce content, consumer devices will be used to watch/listen/play. Communication will be split among the platforms.

Re:Translation: (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348485)

Cell phones are overhyped, they are just too limited

They're being hobbled on purpose. My phone has as much CPU and memory as most of the computers that ran Office 97 when it was released. With a dock that provided VGA and USB, it could connect to external hard drives, monitor, mouse/keyboard etc and become the core of a desktop machine.

There's a theshold effect here. Once a computer (including PDA, phone etc) has enough grunt to do email/office/web etc, it's enough of a computer for most users. This generation of PDA/Phones has reached that threshold, and I suspect the next generation will surpass it. All they need is connectivity to external display and input devices and they're a complete solution.

The need for the big box and grunty CPU is mostly marketing and mindset.

Re:Translation: (2, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348718)

With a dock that provided VGA and USB, it could connect to external hard drives, monitor, mouse/keyboard etc and become the core of a desktop machine.

That's still essentially a PC, just with a hot-swappable CPU. I don't really see that catching on; what advantage do you have in being able to pick your CPU up, walk around and take calls on it?

It might save a little money - you can get low-end CPUs quite cheaply these days - but it would have a nasty effect on your system. Can you imagine the lag on a system that has its CPU communicate with the bus over USB?

Re:Translation: (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348519)

Microsoft is heavily invested in search revenue, advertising revenue, licensing, patents, hardware, consoles, media players, cell phones, you name it. If the PC goes down, it isn't taking Microsoft with it. They have enough capital to place more emphasis on other markets they are already established in.

Ubiquitous? (2, Interesting)

cokane (16304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348104)


I agree with his assessment that this is a new beginning in ubiquity.

Unfortunately, the comparison is a buzzkill. I have never really seen automobiles nor televisions as "Ubiquitous". This leads me to doubt Gates' actual understanding of the ramifications (an unleashed possibility) of this phenomenon. This will ultimately be the downfall of his "Windows everywhere" vision.

The miniaturization is effectively going to put the PC in your pocket [figuratively]. Moreover, rather than having a "PC at home" I see us having connected devices that send and receive information from a remote server (or servers), and provide us with the mobility without sacrificing the connectivity.

Oh yeah: First post.

Re:Ubiquitous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348152)

I have never really seen automobiles nor televisions as "Ubiquitous".

Wow, that's a new perspective. What corner of North Uqbar do you inhabit?

Re:Ubiquitous? (2, Interesting)

cokane (16304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348240)

I do live in the US (Cincinnati specifically), but I don't own (or watch) TV because it is generally pretty awful. I have a [dying] automobile as well, but can get around just fine without it. The car simply adds extra mobility and flexibility to my life. A lot of people own both of these things (and in the US it may seem like everyone does), but there are many without them. Yeah, they are familiar with the existence, but they are not building blocks of life.

Shoes are Ubiquitous.
Clocks are Ubiquitous.

Google is nearly Ubiquitous, but only within the realm of computer use.

Re:Ubiquitous? (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348289)

Shoes are Ubiquitous.
Clocks are Ubiquitous.
Not in the third world, you insensitive clod.

Re:Ubiquitous? (2, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348699)

I think someone needs to look up the definition of ubiquitous. It doesn't mean "everyone owns one", "necessities of life" it means "they're everywhere". Once you can walk through an American town without seeing a single car, then you can claim that automobiles are not ubiquitous.

Re:Ubiquitous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348422)

This will ultimately be the downfall of his "Windows everywhere" vision.

Actually the new corporate mission is to enable customers to reach their full potential -- potentially without Windows everywhere.


No figurative about it... (1)

mrraven (129238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348441)

PDA with wireless and a home server and you are done. I'd prefer a palm tx and and a dual core Mac as the home server, but that's just me.

Re:Ubiquitous? (1)

orthodoxRebel (962439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348591)

Oh yeah: First post. If by first you mean third...

Re:Ubiquitous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348678)

Urgh. If you're going to be tiresome enough to include "first post" in what is otherwise an insightful post (which I can't see the reason for anyway - if it WAS the first post, then any people who cared would notice anway), then at least check back before you post and don't post 'first post' in the sixth post. Better yet, don't do it at all. It's irrelevant, uninteresting, and doesn't add anything to the post except irritation for those who are here for a serious discussion.

PC willl take lots of time (1)

srai (957404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348122)

PC will take lot of time ... but what about the things going around. He should be worried about all those Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX that are coming around. Again another way to look around ... "Apple sells as many or more songs than the many stores that use Microsoft software." ...

End of the beginning (0, Troll)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348129)

So to paraphrase Churchill, we only have about 5 more years left of fighting Microsoft [assuming they are the Nazis]?

OK I've just compared Microsoft to murderers. The debate is over, we all lose.

Re:End of the beginning (1)

edflyerssn007 (897318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348188)

godwin, for teh win!

Re:Mods being overzealous? (1)

Jim_Callahan (831353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348252)

Troll? Come on, guys, you know this fellow was making a joke, albeit at our Microsoft-hating expense... wait... maybe you don't. I think that's actually scaring me. /shiver

Seriously, though. "overrated", yes. "troll", no, unless you think people are actually that easy to bait. Use the mod system to some approximaiton of correctly, please.

Re:End of the beginning (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348584)

Why intentionally invoke Godwin's law? Poor form.

Re:End of the beginning (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348621)

Perhaps my knowledge of Churchill has lead some to believe I know everything about history and Nazi culture. Who is this Godwin people are speaking of?

I was mimicking a meme from that I saw where someone said that everyone loses once a Hitler analogy pops up. Did I accidentially paraphrase a pro-racist statement or something?

Re:End of the beginning (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348674)'s_law []

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Often people intentionally invoke Godwin's Law early, throwing out the Nazi card where it doesn't belong to call down moderators. It is a tactic used to close down threads online before people can respond, or just a means of curtailing conversation. I thought that is what you were attempting.

Either way, I'm tired of seeing Nazis brought up in every other thread on the magical intrawebs.

too many useful applications (5, Insightful)

irtza (893217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348148)

Until other devices can provide an easy way to type a paper, type an email, view complicated websites, look at your digital pictures, edit a picture, write shell scripts or view large amounts of data conveniently on other platforms, we will not see the death of the desktop. Televisions, PDAs and cell phones lack the resolution to view many useful websites ( /. looks horrible on my palm). What will come next (imo) is the comoditization of the software and the rise of the service model. The service model will work on all your devices including the desktop. What will make money for companies is how well their service integrates with the multitude of devices out there. Apple is using the Verizon approach of controlling the device and the hardware. This means people are locked in to their service and when they decide to pull features on their new devices, there is no out. If music you purchased on the iTunes music store will only play on an iPod, you have reason to keep it. What happens when mp3 files no longer play on the next gen iPod (which u will need to play your online purchases)... many people will lose a large portion of their music library. MS here is like the GSM companies. They will provide the service; you just need to get a compatible device which can have whatever features they put in. As w/ the ability to install MS-DOS on PC clones, this is a great business model that will benefit the consumer in the long run as it gives more options (even if the current gen of iTunes+iPod is better). * now I only was able to read the 2nd article (about apple's business model) becau se the 1st required me to log in... I will wait until someone posts the content of the first to see how off topic I am

Re:too many useful applications (2, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348314)

>conveniently on other platforms, we will not see the death of the desktop.
>will wait until someone posts the content of the first to see how off topic I am

Well, because the WSJ article, appears to be about PC = msft software + generic hardware. Their main competitor to that is a Apple P.C.
and the gates followup is about any microsoft based device that runs more than a single program. I am not sure what would be off topic, more than the gates reply.

Since a P.C. means (to me) something that does what the Person wants, not what some big company allows it to do (be it the company I work for or the RIAA, or MSFT...). I think the term PC is what is being killed, and it has succeeded.

Re:too many useful applications (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348548)

I think the term PC is what is being killed, and it has succeeded.

I agree, but this is not solely the doing of the software companies. It is also the fault of the user base, for not taking the initiative to make their computer "personal", which means substantially more than changing their desktop background.

There is a difference between a tool and an appliance, a large part of which is whether the thing is used actively or passively. Toasters and dishwashers are appliances because they perform their function without intervention from the user (loading/unloading aside). Drills and saws are tools because they must be guided by the user in order to perform properly.

Most computer users think their computer is an appliance, and get frustrated with it because they actually use it like a tool (which contributes to the intimidating stigma of the computer itself). It can be used both ways, but most people can't get past the intimidation to realize that, and rarely if ever get exposed to how to use their computer as an appliance (prime example: cron).

And the big software companies deliberately do little to change this. They know that a consumer who thinks is likely to make an informed decision... and they could choose a competitor's product (gasp!). The same principle is what made Martin Luther so dangerous to the Catholic Church.

People in general will continue to be intimidated by electronics for the next couple of decades. Think about the long-lived joke about setting the clock on a VCR; the same applies to just about anything in the digital age: PC, camera, phone, you name it.

Re:too many useful applications (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348357)

.....What happens when mp3 files no longer play on the next gen iPod....

What advantage would there be to Apple to do that? The vast majority of music on most people's iPods is ripped from their own and friend's CDs. Those are usually mp3 or maybe AAC format without DRM. I doubt that there are very many ipod users who can afford thousands of $$$ worth of downloaded music to fill up their ipods. I know for sure that I don't. Illegal downloads are still vastly more popular than all legal services put together. No **AA and all their lawyers is ever going to stop people sharing their favorite entertainments by all means available to them. They have done so ever since the tape recorder was invented. If all DRM of every type were eliminated, the sharing of content would not change much.

Duh (-1, Troll)

Kurayamino-X (557754) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348151)

This whole article needs to be modded redundant. "PC era" my ass, this is like saying "The automobile era isn't over" in the 1930's when futurists were going on about rocket cars. Guess what? they're still going on about rocket cars, and moller is 40 years and $200 million into a SkyCar that continues to be sucktastic. PC's aren't going anywhere soon.

Depends on the situation (3, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348162)

If we're talking about work and email and such - sure, the PC isn't going anywhere.

But I was asking My Lovely Wife (MLW) if she wanted me to buy her a copy of Sodoku for her iBook, since she's always using my DS to play "Brain Age" for the training and Sodoku. (Which leaves me unable to play my new "Super Mario Brothers" right now.)

She shook her head. "No, because on this, I can write down the answers, while with my laptop I'd have to enter it in, and it would get annoying."

I think there's something here. Look at console game sales opposed to PC game sales - sure, PC game sales aren't going away, but consoles are clearly dominating. Plug in to TV, and done. Look at the Wii - in a lot of ways, it's really emulating the gaming of the PC only in a true console mode (point and aim, swing and hit the ball - simple as can be).

The PC isn't going away - but I don't think it's the big deal it once was for all things computer. It's still important, but not for "all things".

Of course, that's just my opinion - it could be wrong. Now, if I can just get that DS away from her....

Re:Depends on the situation (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348557)

I can see how consoles make it easy with plug n play to the tv, turn it on, put a disc (whatever media) in, and play - it just works, you dont have to worry if your specs are good enough or if your drivers are up to date and whatnot (hell, I loved my PS2 before it crapped out, and I plan on getting a PS3 after the price dies down a bit and people stop selling em on ebay for $1k).

but to counter that, anybody with enough technical knowlege can make peripherals and whatnot for PCs (hell, even *nix systems) - in other words aside from Nintendo's patent on the controller, another company could easilly enough make a PC gamepad just like it. not to mention that new hardware comes out every few months, letting game devs work using the latest and greatest and not be limited by hardware released 2 years ago...

and as for the thing with her hogging your DS, why not have gotten her a tablet pc instead? (sure its not mac, but at the least you could get it a bit closer to mac with some odd distro of linux out there)

Let me guess (-1, Troll)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348163)

Linux is gaining market share, Apple has come to commodity hardware (Intel) and Unix in general is becoming more widely accepted as not only a solution for cheaper and more reliable enterprise computing but as a solution for the endless of buggy patches to Windows vulnerabilities.

Now that Microsoft is scared, they're proclaiming the PC era is dead? Somehow I doubt it. I suspect Gates is trying to evangelize devices where WinCE (er, sorry, Windows Mobile) is the ideal solution, for multiple reasons:

1, The devices are typically proprietary, and what better solution for those devices than WinCE or some other embeddable Microsoft Windows platform?

2. The devices are disposable. People typically upgrade cellular phones biannually or annually, and cellphone providers are constantly looking at ways to upgrade their networks to fuel more upgrades and more contract extensions. Why wouldn't Microsoft want their Windows Mobile Smartphone platform to become the dominant player, instead of that eebil tool of the commie debil Linux hoopla?

3. Microsoft has seen their growth explosion come to an end - they can only go down from where they are. They have been trying increasingly harder to turn customers on to a subscription software model (because deep down, everyone knows when you buy commodity software off the shelf. you OWN it, not license it). By evangelizing subscriptions, then first right of sale will suddenly no longer apply, so the market for used Windows (and other Microsoft software) licenses shall have vanished, because then it will be true thanks to what is now a "rental" that the customer owns nothing but the CPU, RAM, and screen.

The PC is far from dead. Want to sync your MP3 collection with your phone, PDA, iPod, and car's head unit? What will you use? Yep, your trusty old desktop PC. Want a truly flexible PVR that doesn't think you're gay if you happen to tune into Chasing Amy one night? Yep, you'll want a MythTV (or Windows Media ) HTPC with a free program guide, no phoning home to big brother for $15.00 a month (or whatever that ripoff Tivo costs).

Re:Let me guess (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348193)

Oops, mis-read. I thought it was Gates who was proclaiming the PC dead. I see it's the WSJ who did. Sorry! Should RTFS more closely.

Re:Let me guess (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348301)

I can't believe that this is moded higher than a 0 Flamebait! MODS, the parent is factually incorrect.

But what does Netcraft say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348171)

Reason: You can type more than that for your comment.

Not if Netcraft says you're dead.

Couldn't agree with Bill more (2, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348201)

the PC is becoming more important and popular as a key enabler for these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world,

Very true, but not the Windows PC.

Vista may well mark the end of the Windows era.

Re:Couldn't agree with Bill more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348264)

Wait until Apple opens the source code to OSX in early Q3 of '06. That will be the end of Windows. /NDA? doh...!

Re:Couldn't agree with Bill more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348454)

And replaced by what - Linux, which has been touted as the "ready for desktop" for the past 6 years? Or Apple, which in its 25 year existence has only managed to become a niche player? How is Office, SQL Server, Visual Studio and the like that is used by virtually every company on the planet going to be replaced? If you knew anything about corporate environments, you'd know that Windows is going to around for a loooong time. And thats coming from an Ubuntu user.

Bill would want it to be the Windows PC (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348521)

That's why there is so much effort to get everyone using Windows DRM for future media. Bill wants all your home appliances to be connected to your Windows PC, and only a Windows PC will do. In the current legal climate where we have legally enforced vendor lock-in over file formats this may be quite easy to do.

      Windows is on most PCs.

      People who want to sell devices that work with PCs will target Windows users.

      Windows users will most likely be using the bundled media player. (ITunes is an interesting exception here, possibly a spanner in the works for Microsoft).

      Bill makes it easier, even encourages, device makers to work _only_ with the proprietry Windows protocols and formats. He got his wrists slapped for this recently by the antitrust courts - too little too late of course.

      It is now illegal to reverse engineer those protocols for compatibility and make competing devices.

It's a pity, as Windows and its software is not even that good. It's often been shown to be pretty poor and there's a lot more innovative stuff out there - but people have ditched better working systems so they can be compatible with Windows.

If you think Microsoft are uninovative now, imagine a world where they don't feel they have to compete because they effectively have a legally mandated monopoly over the media format that everone uses.

Maybe I'm a bit confused.... (3, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348207)

But why should we trust the predictions from a guy, with more money than god, who can't even get his own company to produce product on schedule?

Yep, slamming Bill is often a passtime, but I have to admit, he's making this one easy... so easy, its not even fun really. If Bill or MS tells me that the sky is falling, I logically realize that we have 2-3 more years before it begins to fall, and there will be several false alerts before it actually does fall.

Wow, just wow

Re:Maybe I'm a bit confused.... (1)

humungusfungus (81155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348486)

.....if it falls at all.

Re:Maybe I'm a bit confused.... (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348545)

But why should we trust the predictions from a guy, with more money than god.

Precisely because he HAS more money than God, made from technology investments, I think qualifies him as someone we should take notice of. Put it like this, whether you like him or not, his money hasn't come from a potato farm in Idaho - he obviously knows a little bit about the tech industry.

Re:Maybe I'm a bit confused.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348698)

> But why should we trust the predictions from ...

Exactly. The first printing of "The Way Ahead" made no mention of the Internet at all (someone else fixed up his shortsightedness and reprinted).

A survey of home users found that the computer was often in the same room in the house as the TV. Bill concluded that users wanted the computer and the TV to be one unit - NO, it was just that, unlike Bill, home users don't have 22 rooms in their house to spare.

Bill also predicted that PC hardware would be given away and users would rent software (note: Dell should give away the hardware and MS will collect all revenue).

Bill also claimed, around the time of the '$100 laptop', that hardware was the cheapest part of the system and that the money should go to software.

His 'predictions' are merely his deranged ideas about how captive users _should_ be sending their money to Microsoft.

How typical! (5, Funny)

Godji (957148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348223)

these new digital scenarios in every corner of the world, from Indianapolis to Istanbul

As usual, the USA is the center of a world, and those exotic other places are in the corners. Sir William Gates should be awakened to the realization that as an approximately spherical object, our planet does not have corners!

Eh, but don't get me wrong, I'm used to it. After all in the room analogy, the USA must be the Windows (TM) of the world, and that's a lot worse than being in a corner ;)

Re:How typical! (4, Funny)

Jim_Callahan (831353) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348267)

Or, if you want to use the calculus explanation, it has an infinite number of corners whose shape diverges only infinitessimally form the planar.

Assuming, of course, that the world is perfectly spherical, which it isn't. Realistically, anyplace with a pointy hill or pyramidal landmark is a corner of the world.

This moment in taking too literally a reply to a comment that the parent took too personally has been brought to you by James Callahan. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

As Christine Keeler once said... (2, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348263)

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

Re:As Christine Keeler once said... (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348276)

Yes, I do realise it was Mandy Rice-Davies, so don't bother telling me.

Re:As Christine Keeler once said... (1)

miro f (944325) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348631)

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

does anyone else have an image in their head of Bill Gates with his hands over his ears and his eyes shut saying "lalalalalalalala I can't hear it it's not happening!"

10 signs the PC era is over... (5, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348273)

The PC era can be declared over, if and when:

1. Windows Vista - Service Pack 2 is released.
2. Microsoft releases a complete OS under "GPL 3.0 or later".
3. Software patents are declared illegal in the US.
4. Chinese firm releases complete PC - hardware and software, fully developed and built in-house - at under $100.
5. SCO defeats IBM and buys RedHat.
6. nVidia releases GPL drivers.
7. Symantec withdraws from security market, declaring Vista is 'unbreakable'.
8. DRM is declared illegal, DMCA revoked, and the RIAA dissolved.
9. Hurd 1.0 is available for download.
10. No more chairs in the Chair-Man's Office at Redmond.


Re:10 signs the PC era is over... (1)

Skythe (921438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348309)

11. The RIAA supercedes the US government in a grant of 'emergency powers' and becomes the new world government.

Re:10 signs the PC era is over... (1)

AhtirTano (638534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348459)

I think 10 should have been 1 and 4 should have been 2.

Oh, they aren't ranked by decreasing likelihood? Nevermind then.

Re:10 signs the PC era is over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348479)

10 seems a wonderful punch line, though.

Re:10 signs the PC era is over... (2, Funny)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348464)

Shouldn't Duke Nukem Forever be on that list somewhere?

No one gives a crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348293)

what Gates thinks anymore.

Who cares? They announce the death (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348344)

of the PC every six months or so. It seems to have started with the idea of "dumb" terminals in the 90's - which would lead us back to servers (mainframes) which the PC got us away from in some part in the first place. From then on, that same idea has been resurrected time and again for some reason (and hidden agenda).

Unless they annouce what will take it's place (typing on a PDA, playing games on a cellphone? I don't think so) - I'll just take the predictions as more mindless punditry and don't even need Billy to tell me such.

Re:Who cares? They announce the death (1)

craXORjack (726120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348428)

For once I agree with Gates. The PC is not dead yet. Of course, he had his fun back in the nineties when Microsoft would have their hench-pundits predict the death of Apple and Unix every few months. That wasn't really happening either. Just guerrilla marketing tactics.

Myopic... (5, Insightful)

TheIndifferentiate (914096) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348347)

Looking through Microsoft glasses is like trying to look through a stained glass window. The colors are pretty, but you can't make out anything clearly on the other side. The rise of the networked PC was supposed to be the end of the mainframe, but we are seeing a resurgence there. Big bad IBM isn't so bad anymore. The multimedia PC miracle that was being pushed to ignorant consumers buying 486SX PC's only started achieving its promise almost decade later. The Internet _is_ a big thing. .Net is not multiplatform for any of Microsoft's doing. Linux is not a toy OS. OSS is not a cancer. Java is not dead. NT wasn't bullet proof. XP wasn't secure. Tablet PC's aren't everywhere. And people weren't stupid enough to fall for Hailstorm. To their credit, they've done a lot of stuff, but predictions is not something I think they do well.

Re:Myopic... (2, Funny)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348676)

And we all need more than 640K of RAM.

No shit, sherlock! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348373)

Wow, Gates is SOOOOO smart! What's his next observation going to be? That the sky is blue? That water is wet? That Slashdot is full of sarcastic idiots like me with no life?

Suprised? (1)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348381)

Of course ole Bill will have us believe the age of the PC isn't over. How else will he profit from the company he has built?

What PC? (3, Informative)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348405)

What PC is the author talking about?

My Personal Computer could be pretty small, but it's still a personal computer.

In fact, I am hoping to eventually give my very small PC the capabilities of a cell phone... which brings up the question which is the purpose for this rambling thread that I've made:
What is better? A cell phone attempting to be a PC, or a PC attempting to be a cell phone?
I suppose that question calls for an analogy: Remember that dumb movie called Armaggedon? Wouldn't it have been more intelligent to send astronauts trained to be oil drillers to the moon to deal with the asteroid instead of sending up oil drillers trained to be astronauts?

I have to say that he is right (2, Insightful)

aphaenogaster (884935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348433)

The only thing standing in the way is the current monopoly on ip addresses and the crappiness of the average OS. If every person could have their home computer running as a server all of this would be different. All we need is static IPs assigned to everyone with a broadband connection (not fricking crap, IP addresses, yes they are in fact easier to remember and understand than PHONE NUMBERS!!!!). I cannot begin to count the number of times others who do not know what they are doing have envied my ability to serve them pictures, my own pages, whatever. When that happens, everybody will want a 2 processor dual core 4 gb ram dell box. You would think the computer companies could figure this out on their own. Oh the implications.... The really ironic bit is that Bill Gates POS operating system is the major obstical (right behind the phone companies) for this. The next really big move in computers will be a truly open internet and everyone running OS X, Linux, BSD, or Solaris. When that happens, everything will change.

Re:I have to say that he is right (1)

Xlylith (846092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348627)

"All we need is static IPs assigned to everyone with a broadband connection (not fricking crap, IP addresses, yes they are in fact easier to remember and understand than PHONE NUMBERS!!!!)"
When IPv6 is finally implemented, IP address will be much longer than your phone numbers Then you will appreciate the use of FQDN When will it be implemented? After Vista SP2 released, I guess... :-)

Is There Really a Substitute For Nice Big Screens? (4, Insightful)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348436)

I see the PC being only partially supplanted by cellphones and other mobile devices. Did tiny portable televisions supplant the living room television? No, because they're just not as nice.

Mobile phones have largely replaced landline phones for a lot of people because they're able to do almost everything better than landline phones (portability, easy address book address) at a comparable price (an extra $20 a month or so).

However, mobile phones and PDAs do not do everything better than traditional PCs. Their advantages are price, portability, and simplicity - all extremely important traits that will allow them to carve out more and more market share over time.

However, for the forseeable future (10-20 years?) PCs will be several orders of magnitudes more powerful than mobile devices when it comes to storage capacity, power, display, and input devices.

Other aspects will take even longer (25+ years?) to be bested by mobile devices due to the sheer physical limits of mobile devices - big screens and comfortable input devices. Over time, I'm sure creators mobile devices will overcome these challenges. We've all seen scifi movies where users have portable 10-megapixel displays that are the size of dimes and can be worn as an eyepiece and I'm sure bright MIT grads are working to make that a reality in some lab somewhere.

umm. (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348449)

isn't microsoft his company activly trying to consolize the pc doing the exact same thing that bill gates here is denying?

do I hear the sound of a million monkeys typing? (0, Troll)

humungusfungus (81155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348451)

.............blah blah blabbityblah blahblah blahblah blahblah blahblablablahblablablablabla blah blah blahblah blahblah blahblablablahblablablablabla blah blah blahblah blahblah babhbahblah babababablah bababababababablah 640 k ought to be enough for anyone blahblablablahblablablablabla blah blah blahblah blahblah blahblah blahblah blahblah blahblah blah blah blabbityblah blah blah blabbityblah blah blah blabbityblah ..............

Nice Equal Sign (=) (1)

nullchar (446050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348457)

Reminds me of reading=
email from the command=

Everything will be a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15348460)

I think that in 20 years, we will be living in a world where embedded microprocessors are inside of almost every product, and IPV6 will mean that everyday objects will have IP addresses and will be individually addressable. All those people who work ferrying information between machines will be out of work. When you really think about it, a very large number of people's jobs involve following scripts of one kind or another. That will end. The result is that each job will have to be justified by its owner as doing something truly unique.

All those unemployed people? The world will stop pretending that unemployment is a crime of laziness and it will realize that without consumers, the global economy will implode. My guess is that we will see a golden age of sorts, eventually, but there will be growing pains as the elite try to criminalize everybody to prevent the creation of a world in which everybody can eat and continue to live, even if their wage labor is no longer required.

There is one thing ending (2)

Allnighterking (74212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348469)

...and that is the Windows concept of "Bringing the main frame to the desktop". In the windows concept of development the objective was to allow everyone to have their own personal mainframe. All applications run and are installed locally. The idea of a distributed computer, (as apposed to distributed computing, altogether different subject), is a totally foreign idea to windows. I can't for example, run an instance of word which displays on my screen, from another computer without bringing the entire desktop, and all of it's bells and whistles along with it.

The era of "The network is the computer" though long possible in *nix, is just now being forced upon, and in many ways leaving Windows behind. With a *nix box (and Apple runs *nix with a hobbled desktop, looks good though) you can actually have a display in location A and apps running on B C D E F and the data stored on a SAN or NAS system in location G.

IMHO over the next few years you are going to see an increase in powerful, portable, displays that access applications and data from multiple locations as if it was all held in the palm of your hand. These systems will have little if any OS or storage locale to the device. Those orgainizations still tied to the old model of immobile all in one devices, or pay by the installation software model, will slowly at first, and eventually significantly loose market share. Many will go the way of Harvard Graphics.

Already if you are outside the US you are seeing the beginning of what I'm refering to. Many so called "3rd world" Nations have little if any land line setup for telephones. But everyone has a cell. In more advanced countries outside of the US people are in large numbers giving up their home phone and just using cellular systems. Already a large chunk of the bay area is free wireless, or soon to be free (legitimate free not war driving style) San Jose the heart of the Silicon Valley will the the last to go since it's the largest city and the one with the most attention from ComCast and AT&T.

The era of the PC gone. Not really. However the era of the putty colored tower with a 2 ton monitor, is IMHO already going bye bye. As time and the advantages of mobility become something bean counters can count. Then increased interoperability will be the order of the day. No longer will just the exchange of data be enough. The sharing of the means to manipulate the data will also be required. Sooner or later it will be learned that contolling the code is a waste of time and money. Controlling the API is where it's at.

Don't bother registering to read the article: (2, Funny)

humungusfungus (81155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348505)

Article synopsis:



My name is Bill Gates. I might very well watch my huge multi-billion dollar empire fade into obscurity and impotence if,

a) The PC era is over
b) You believe the PC era is over

In light of these facts, I have an announcement:

"The PC era isn't over."

You can stop holding your breath now. Carry on!

PS I'm not saying he isn't right, but come on........

old technology (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348572)

Looking at the history of technology, and the acceleration, the days of the PC, as a primary force, may be limited. It has had it 20 year run, and that is about as long as any computer mature computer technology has lasted.

The best case in point in the mainframe. It was developed into a mature product over the mid 1900s, and then reached it peak in the late 60's. By the late 80's, the microcomputer underdog was replacing the mainframe in many applications. Sure there are still places a mainframe is used, but the PC was seen to be more flexible, and allowed a more democratic use of technology. The PC became the GPC, and the mainframe was relegated to a few verticle markets.

Well the PC has had it's time in the sun, and we are seeing the same problems. Huge investments, not really in hardware, but in software. Single vendor lock backed by the holding for ransom of critcal company data in proprietary formats. Incredible problems on managing thousands of individual machines. THe expectations that novices can manage thier own machines. All this has proven quite unrealistic.

Some of us will continue to use the PC for many years in the same way that some of us welcomed mainframe access until the terminal was torn away from our grasps. However, those that just want a solution, might choose other routes. Web services might be that route. For a bussiness we might have a hybrid situation of central servers and cheap smart terminals. This has been tried, but what has killed it is that MS still wants the full license fee, so there is not cost saving. We still need to pay MS, and we still need to have a computer that can run the OS, even if we need this power for nothing else.

Some enterprising accountant will one day force the question of why does every worker bee need an individualized mid range computer, when all we really run is 2 applications that can be served over the network, email, and a browser, all of which can be run on a much cheaper machine and *nix. No reason to have MS extort money, no reason to have the BSA on our asses and in our bussinesses. I know people who worked with IBM, and they said this kind of greedy behavior is exactly what almost killed IBM, and it will be what kills the PC.

And Dell and the others are scared. MS needs to sell upgrades of the OS. Dell needs an excuse for consumers to by new machines. If the office goes to cheaper appliances to run the few applications, instead of the GPC, then the employess will run the same stuff at home. Some who wants games might go with a PC, or a console. Other might go with Apple. But most might go witht the Wal*Mart special that will do what it needs to do, connect to the web services, and not require the $100 investment in spyware protection, the continuous security upgrades, and the annoying serial numbers. It will just work.

Gates want the pc era to last forever because MS does not learn the lessons of history. Therefore they are going to be destined to repeat the history. In 10 years it will be as quaint to have a PC in your house as it is to have a wood burning stove.

That one little thing..... (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348642)

In relation to what the article says about end-to-end production.

Yes, Apple produces a lot of products that work well together. Ipod works with Itunes works on Apple computer which runs I[insert name] software.

The problem is when the user needs something slightly different than what they offer. The one little application that only runs on windows is enough to stop people from buying anything apple related.

Apple's boot camp aims to fix this problem, but it clearly states on their web site that they don't support windows or boot camp itself. Who's going to risk destroying all of their Apple files so they can run one little windows application? (people who visit slashdot don't count).

Apple needs to make a version of boot camp reliable enough that they can support it for anyone who's bought an apple computer. I'd buy an apple laptop in a second if I knew there was some assurance that I wasn't going to corrupt my entire Apple OS install when I try to dual boot.

I suppose this might seem a little off topic, but I didn't see anything related to mobile devices in the article. Oh and by the way, one of the articles in the post is only available to subscribers of the web site it's hosted on.

Re:That one little thing..... (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348687)

give it some time. boot camp is still beta. and virtualization is the way to go in the future anyway. much less risky to boot :)

What about internet-apps? (1)

grrrl (110084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348645)

While I will never part with my own personal computer, I know many people who are happy to work off whichever terminal is around - think gmail, flickr... with an on-line word processor and somewhere (gmail?) to store your files, many people are happy to use whichever computer is nearest and connected to the internet.

I don't think anyone is going to start selling less-powerful machines, but net cafes and other access points might as well have dumb terminals, all thats need is to be able to access and use the applications that run in your web browser.

I think the biggest hurdle to this accessibility is DRMd files - you can't go into a net cafe and buy a song off iTunes to dl'd to your ipod, unless that is the only copy you will ever want (and wont delete it) (or can you? can you once-off authorize the computer? - seems counterproductive if you cant get the song off your ipod later).

More Gates nonsense (2, Insightful)

Cannelloni (969195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348686)

Gates may be right in that the PC isn't going away tomorrow, but as always, it's a pain having to endure his annoying big brother attitude, patting our collective heads, telling us what's what: "The reality is a little different. The truth is..." Technology is continually moving forward, and Microsoft's thinking apparently isn't, so things will probably change rather rapidly. The truth is we don't know what things will look like. Nor does Gates or Microsoft.

cummon (1)

koroviev (begemot) (924304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348750)

nice, the article needs a login.. -1 for the poster

i for one welcome our new overlords (1)

montale127 (307830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15348752)

i can't believe no one's said that yet

seriously, though, isn't it likely that the answer to the once-nauseatingly-ubiquitous ("bingo!" for those of you playing buzzword-bingo as you read down the page) question about What Will Be The Digital Hub of your networked life? is: the PC?

in this week of PS3 price-shock, it seems even more ridiculous than it once did to think that the PS() woulda/coulda/shoulda been the Hub

i'm biased, definitely, since i work at [] but still i think the idea that some other device is going to become the hub, when the PC has all this processing power, huge footprint, strong extendability, is comic - and there are lots of folks making the PC something more in the background than it ever was before

now if only apple would license its OS...
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