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Microsoft IT

The PC Is Not Dead 451

Posted by Zonk
from the revolution-will-be-emailed dept.
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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The PC Is Not Dead

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  • by soluzar22 (219097) * <soluzar@hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @01:58PM (#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...
    • by plehmuffin (846742) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:08PM (#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.

      • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:14PM (#12014552) Homepage Journal
        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.
        • by arkanes (521690) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {senakra}> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:39PM (#12014853) Homepage
          Administration is where it makes sense, but I still think thin client is a step backward. A full-powered workstation is *cheaper* than a thin client. It's stupid to waste all this computing power, only to channel more and more money into more and more powerfull app servers. Better admin tools (and actually, despite the lack of pre-rolled tools, Linux actually shines here) are what we need, not a fall back to dumb terminals. We've got incredibly cheap computing power that would have been unimaginable even 20 years ago, lets not waste it all - design ways to leverage to power of workstations while alleviating the administrative overhead.
          • by Unkle (586324) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:53PM (#12015000)
            A full-powered workstation is *cheaper* than a thin client.

            I think you've hit the nail on the head right there--PCs are so cheap today. When you can get a full Dell (just for example) with monitor for only a few hundred dollars, thin clients have a much harder time being justified--especially since you're going to need some kind of server for them to run off of, the cost of which would be spread out accross all clients when comparing to a stand-alone PC. And, for most work uses, these cheapo PCs are more than enough. If you need more (i.e., graphic artists), you probably wouldn't be going with a thin client anyway.

            • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:11PM (#12015225)
              Yes, but with thin clients, I can change an application for 50 users from my desk, ONCE. Its that versus updating 50 machines. Even automated updates don't come close to the ease of thin clients as there's always some where the update didn't go right and needs to be re-done, by hand.
              • by Taladar (717494) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:26PM (#12015402)
                And with thin clients 50 users can go home and have some unplanned free time if the server takes an unexpected timeout...
              • by gewalker (57809)
                I'm been writing Windows apps for a long time. With a well-engineered app (no Visual Basic for starters) this is not an issue. Deploying and updating well-engineering windows apps across scads of workstations is simply not a problem, done it many times.

                You must lock down windows to keep all of the trojans, trashy games, etc. that will destroy your stable environmment otherwise.

                Need I point out that I've seen thin client apps having problems on certain machines? The browser itself is very fat and full of i
          • by wwest4 (183559) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:09PM (#12015195)
            > A full-powered workstation is *cheaper* than a thin client.

            This is usually false, both in terms of hardware cost, lifetime expectancy, power consumption, and deployment cost, yadda yadda. Any way you slice it, a workstation is not cheaper than any but the most unfairly-priced and poorly-designed thin client.

            > It's stupid to waste all this computing power, only to channel more and more
            > money into more and more powerfull app servers.

            A bunch of single processer machines, each with its own board, memory, IO, fans, footprint and power supply (w/ AC-DC transformer) is neccessarily more "wasteful" in terms of resources than a WTS running on an SMP machine. That's basic physics. When the cost between one and the other becomes insignificant, then you start to have a point; or if you're rich enough, maybe it doesn't matter. Nowadays, though, it usually does.

            > We've got incredibly cheap computing power that would have been unimaginable
            > even 20 years ago, lets not waste it all - design ways to leverage to power of
            > workstations while alleviating the administrative overhead.

            That's exactly what VM clusters and terminal servers do. For workstations, the best you can do is: imaging, or scripted installs with SMS/Netinstall; either case requires a server infrastructure anyway. So you're back to having thick clients AND extra machines in the back room (which are idle most of the time, like fat clients).

            This is an age-old argument, and there are sometimes cases where thick clients are a must-have (3D or even 2D graphics, or non multi-user aware apps, for example). But most users can go without and suffer no loss in productivity; hell, they can even benefit, because it's easier and cheaper to engineer reliability into the system.
            • by arkanes (521690)
              10 PCs that can run, say, Office will be cheaper than one big machine than can run 10 copies of Office (plus virtualization overhead, of course). You need far, far more server resources to run all your applications at a central point than if you distribute them to your workstations. Further, you need to engineer a lot more reliability into those resources, because if they go away *everyone* is down, rather than one user. Basically, you can view an office full of workers as being a big collection of parellel

        • Only problem is when the main servers go down you're killing not just one user but a whole organization.

          Uh, that's a pretty big problem.

          But then again, a single point of failure usually is.

    • by oGMo (379)

      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 o
    • by squiggleslash (241428) * on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:16PM (#12014569) Homepage Journal
      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.

      • by iabervon (1971)
        The shift to thin clients will be piece by piece. Lots of families these days have a computer per person. Before long, the effort of keeping data while upgrading these will make network-attached storage worthwhile for the family.

        I wouldn't be too surprised if the home of 2015 has all of the storage on a file server appliance, and the things that act like PCs boot off of USB sticks and look a lot like flat panel iMacs.

        Desktops will never offload the processing power, because processing is cheaper than comm
    • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:22PM (#12014655) Homepage
      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.
      • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:57PM (#12015031)
        You miss Bill's main point.

        You will need all that extra processing power and hard drive to drive all the spyware, adware and viruses that will be comming out.

        Now I am still trying to understand why the cashier at walmart needs a full fledged PC, just to sell me my stuff.

        Or any call center agent....

        • Excuse me, but I work at a call center (Support Desk) and we absolutely need our P4 2.6ghz HT processors with 512mb RAM. Otherwise, World of Warcraft and BZFlag will have too low of a frame rate.
      • by RevMike (632002) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ekiMver>> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:16PM (#12015277) Journal
        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.

        I do consulting for a major Wall Street firm. Their VPN/Remote Access solution includes the ability to use Citrix to access Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc. 80% of their workforce can access all the tools they need to do their day-to-day job from any half way decent internet connected pc.

        On top of that, if someone needs to access a non-standard app, they can use Citrix to access their own desktop via Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connectivity.

        Even working as a developer, the only time I've ever needed to actually go to the desktop is to insert a usb thumb drive. Citrix has solutions for this as well, however, allowing you to use local USB devices like thumbdrives and printers as if they were attached to the remote machine.

        With this level of remote computing, it is very easy to "pull the PC's from the desktop" for most users. Just assuming for a moment that you want to continue with a Microsoft based environment, you'd probably do the following...

        1. Put together a redundant farm of Windows Server 2003 boxes in a datacenter or two. You probably need one high end server for every 50 or so desktops wish to replace.
        2. Reimage all the older machines, putting on them a very locked down OS. You might put a Citrix client or VNC client on each, or you may just use Windows RDC.
        3. When the user log in to "their PC", a connection is instead made to a remote session on the server.
        4. Only a few copies of software like Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office need to be installed, maintained, and patched.
        5. Backups can be made in one place.
        6. When more power is needed one server needs to be upgraded, not 50 desktops.
        7. The desktops need far less maintenence and administration. They are appliances with no valuable data on them. They last longer, and when they do need to be replaced they can be replaced with a Wyse WinTerm.
    • by eno2001 (527078) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:37PM (#12014825) Homepage Journal
      Well... I moved my family to a thin client system based on RedHat 9 a few years back. So far it's worked out great. There is very little functionality that most users need that require a fullblown PC sitting in front of them. The current list of apps we use in thin client model are:

      VNC +GDM - Remote Desktop Functionality
      GNOME - Desktop Environment
      Firefox - Web
      Thunderbird - Mail
      Sunbird - Calendaring
      OpenOffice.org - Office Apps
      GIMP - Image editing
      Xine - Media player
      XMMS - MP3/OGG player
      WINE - For those "must have" Windows apps/games
      GAIM - IM
      DOSBox - For old DOS games
      OpenVPN - To remotely access our VNC desktops

      Printing is handled by the centrally attached Epson Photo printer and the "thin clients" are laptops with wireless NICs, custom scripts and VNC clients.

      It works very well for our needs. I would say that the only needs not met by this set up are things like scanning photos (since the server is headless in the basement, putting a scanner down there would be inconvenient) and 3D games that need fast screen performance. This would be better if I moved to 802.11G probably. (hehehe.. I've played Quake 3 using VNC over an SSH tunnel viw a DSL line. Too slow to be playable, but it works) My point with all of this? It's possible to do this sort of thing. The fact that a non-geek like me can set it up indicates that it can certainly be done by experienced developers. It's just that no one has tried hard enough or had a decent plan to do it. Realistically, if the bandwidth was available on a wireless device and it was no more than a display, kb, mouse and audio terminal for a really powerful backend box, this WOULD take off for the home user. Why should our desktops be married to one location? That's just stupid. Your desktop should be accesible everywhere with all functionality available. The only thing that needs to catch up is bandwidth.
      • by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:04PM (#12015130) Homepage
        The fact that a non-geek like me can set it up...

        Go back and re-read your post... That seems to be some big geek mojo to me. ;-)
        -N
      • The fact that a non-geek like me can set it up indicates that it can certainly be done by experienced developers.

        Truly sir, you contradict yourself. Anyone running a wireless Linux thin-client network out of their house is inherently a geek. No matter how many nights a week you play softball, attend the opera, or whatever it is you may do, you are most assuredly a geek. Fortunately, you seem to have found the proper support group.
  • Yawn (Score:5, Funny)

    by MoxCamel (20484) * on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @01:59PM (#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.

    Mox

    • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Funny)

      by pla (258480)
      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!
    • Freedom is on the march? Says who? Name your sources, please...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:00PM (#12014346)
    Does a zombie PC count as alive? Can anyone confirm/deny?
  • PC is dead (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigHungryJoe (737554) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:00PM (#12014352) Homepage
    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by delirium of disorder (701392) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:05PM (#12015154) Homepage Journal
      Mod it funny if you want, but Sun thin clients probably offer the best price/performance ratio of any setup out there for an office environment. I know of one network (one of the largest corporate law firms in the world) where every user has a PIV desktop that just runs the Citrix ICA client. It is locked down so user's cannot acces any local applications, just boot windows 2000 and run Citrix. All these PCs are a waste of money! A Sun ray thin client would be a great replacement, and could allow every user to upgrade their environment simply by upgrading the Citrix or Sun Ray server, and allow every user to cary the same session to any computer they work at (authenticate via smart card and username/password). It would also allow seamless intigration of remotly accessable apps running on Linux, Solaris, or another version of Linux. Sun thin client laptop's with wifi are also a pritty cool solution. They are finally available for under a grand. Check it out: http://www.tadpolecomputer.com/html/products/mobil e/comet/

  • http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan 2005/tc20050119_5359.htm [businessweek.com] Its an editorial piece in which the author basicly states that the PC has hit its peak.
    • 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 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:01PM (#12014372) Homepage
    According to mc chris [slashdot.org], "PCs are lame".

    I recommend slashdot host a discussion panel, mc chris on one side, Bill Gates on the other.
    • by gl4ss (559668)
      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..

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:02PM (#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. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twifosp (532320)
      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 d

      • > 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.

    • 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

    • by macrom (537566) <macrom75@hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:22PM (#12014650) Homepage
      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.
  • by newdamage (753043) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:02PM (#12014388) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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.

    • Ears? (Score:3, Funny)

      by sczimme (603413)

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

      Next time don't read the article aloud - just move your lips as you go.

      HTH. HAND. :-)
  • by ninjamonkey (694442) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:02PM (#12014390) Homepage

    The only "diverse ecosystem" I know of lives in my dirty laundry.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:03PM (#12014408) Homepage
    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.
  • by ChuckleBug (5201) * on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:03PM (#12014410) Journal
    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.
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:05PM (#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!
    • by The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:12PM (#12014525) Homepage Journal
      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
    • I agree with you. I was in IT in the late 70's and early 80's when PC's came into vogue. Prior to that, everyone used a central mainframe or minicomputer through dumb terminals. IMHO a few things promoted the acceptance of PC's in the corporate world: mouse/desktop interface, spreadsheets, "turbo" programming languages, AutoCAD, "instant" response time and a few other things. A few of these were available on host computers, but there wasn't the sense of privacy/ownership/entitlement that folks now enjoy
  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:05PM (#12014431) Homepage Journal
    What if it's running BSD?
  • "I think I'll go for a walk." "I feel happy, I feel happy, I feel...(THUD!)"
  • by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:05PM (#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 [businessweek.com] 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.

  • 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...
  • by ites (600337) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:06PM (#12014442) Journal
    ... 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.
  • by WombatControl (74685) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:06PM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaos.geo (587126)
    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
  • 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.

    HBH
  • by aftk2 (556992) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:08PM (#12014471) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • aka the film about the Profumo Affair.

    "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?"
  • by Mr. Cancelled (572486) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:10PM (#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...
  • by Himring (646324) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:11PM (#12014501) Homepage Journal
    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....
  • Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

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

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:11PM (#12014508) Homepage
    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.
  • by pocari (32456) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:11PM (#12014513) Homepage
    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.

  • 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
  • "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.
  • by ShieldWolf (20476) <jeffrankine@ n e t s c a p e . n et> on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:13PM (#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

  • 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
  • I'm confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    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?
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:14PM (#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?

  • by mwood (25379) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:16PM (#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*.
  • by hoggoth (414195)
    > Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

    Companies like, oh say... Microsoft.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:19PM (#12014617) Homepage Journal
    ... that blue screen usually dissapear after restarting it"
  • 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 Lu

  • by imnoteddy (568836) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:25PM (#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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ElitistWhiner (79961)
    ...in 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. ...in 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. ...in Healthcare PC's stop your every point of progr
  • by tmhsiao (47750) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:26PM (#12014712) Homepage Journal
    I got mad at the PC
    For screwing up the Jumble caper.
    I hope I don't see its name in the paper.
    In the obituarieeees,
    'cause that would mean that it's dead
    The PC Is Not Dead
    I'm so glad the PC is not Dead.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:28PM (#12014731) Homepage
    The CRT is not dead! I see dozens of them in use every day and CompUSA has lot of them!

    Film is not dead! I can buy those familiar yellow boxes of it right in my supermarket checkout line!

    Vinyl LPs are not dead! DJ's still use them and you can buy new turntables in Best Buy!

    The vacuum tube is not dead! Audio hobbyists still insist on them!

    CP/M is not dead! It survives on in Novell Netware servers! Which are not dead, either!

    The Oldsmobile is not dead! I still see them on the road!

    VHF analog broadcasts are not dead!

    Typewriters are not dead! Carbon paper is not dead! Slide rules are not dead! Rotary calculators are not dead! The Bodoni typeface is not dead! The Cinerama wide-screen process is not dead! Spirit duplicators and mimeograph machines are not dead!

    Bill Gates is not dead! And neither am I!

    But Bill Gates and I are both older than we used to be.

  • from users when I say, "Your PC is dead." Only, they usually respond by screaming "Nooooooooooo!"
  • "As processing power, network bandwidth, storage capacity, and advanced software continue to evolve at rates that meet or beat Moore's Law..."

    Is it just me or does Moore's Law say nothing about networking, storage, or software? And also, hasn't the pace of technology been not quite keeping up with the Law recently? For example, despite other enhancements such as faster buses, CPU clock speed seems to have hovered around 3 GHz for a while.

    Hmm... if Bill Gates can be this intellectually lazy, maybe Linux ha
  • by NZheretic (23872) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:34PM (#12014803) Homepage Journal
    Read the article [businessweek.com] that Bill Gates, chief software architect, is reponding to. Consider the number of MAJOR enterprise API overhauls that Microsoft has presented to in-house developers to interface with Microsoft Office, Access and client side Internet Explorer. Client side development on the Microsoft platform has become a decade long Vendor Dependent Death March [slashdot.org].

    As "chief software architect", Bill Gates is responsible for killing a lot of in-house client side development. And don't make the claim that .NET is going to improve that situation, because Microsoft is going to introduce yet another major paradigm shift with Avalon.

    Read Vendor Dependent Death Marches VS Open Kaizen [slashdot.org]

  • by krray (605395) * on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @02:39PM (#12014852)
    Bill may be right ... this time. No, the PC is not dead. It's just getting started IMHO. For the last decade X10 has controlled the lighting in both home and office for myself. Along with other misc functions such motion detected lit hallways, stairs, etc. not to mention the HVAC unit. MINIMAL hardware expense, nonexistent licensing costs (Linux based, of course :). All of which has easily paid for the cost of hardware in temperature control alone -- with light savings as an added bonus.

    Of course the down side is the wife always complaining when we go somewhere that their bathroom doesn't light itself. :)

    The iMac has slid in comfortably as a entertainment device -- almost beating out TiVO. For sound nothing beats another device - the SliMP3 player which happens to tap the iMac for its source of music. Of course ... have iPod, will travel. :)

    There's only one thing missing in everything I've mentioned: MICROSOFT
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:02PM (#12015103)
    Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt.

    You mean Microsoft would grind to a halt.

    Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would slingshot themselves to mach speed in terms of productivity.

  • by Quirk (36086) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:15PM (#12015270) Homepage Journal
    mp3s, dvds, gamepads, cell phones, all peripherals are/will be the "thin clients" of what is now the PC which already has the power of early mainframes. Household appliances will either connect directly to the net or for security and other reasons connect through what is now the PC which will archive and update
  • by ShineyMcShine (799387) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @03:26PM (#12015398) Journal
    It's like asking, "Is sex dead?".
  • by faxafloi (228519) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @04:34PM (#12016159)
    "Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt."

    "Now, let's talk about Web Services!"
  • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Tuesday March 22, 2005 @04:37PM (#12016188) Homepage
    Take the personal out of computing, and most companies would grind to a halt

    I seriously doubt this.

    One of the problems with "Business computing" is that it's become far too personal. While a business user may want the latest, greatest version of Webshots/RealAudio/Screen Saver of the Month, they don't actually need any of the "personalised" touches to perform their basic job.

    System administration is hard enough with just operating system(1) and hardware variables(2) mucking things up. Adding personalization privileges to a few hundred end users, while nice and sweet on an emotional level, quite frankly causes more problems than a business should have to deal with.

    It is completely uneccesssary for a user to be able to spend hours online looking for the perfect wallpaper. Equally unecessary for things like Solitaire or Minesweeper. While I laud Microsoft for introducing millions of people to computers (thus creating my field), I really hate the fact that the touchy-feely approach to user hand holding is the largest contributing factor to a slew of problems like viruses, spyware and spam. I used to love my job, but now, it's become just that: a job. A job where a significant portion of my day is spent explaining to users things like, "Just because the flash games website demands ShockwaveX, doesn't mean I'll be making a 30 mile trip to upgrade the version you currently have installed."

    1) Whichever f*cker thought it'd be a bright idea to have Windows do a scheduled task scan of the entire network EVERY TIME Windows Explorer launches should be shot . . . multiple times.

    2) Two words: "DLL Hell".

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