October 25, 2012

Windows 8 Marks the end of the PC

EETimes - a veteran PC executive (Shapiro) claims the new operating system marks the beginning of the end for PCs and the OEMs who make them.

Shapiro claims over time Microsoft will deemphasize traditional desktops and their compiled x86 apps in favor of iPad-like tablets like Microsoft Surface and their interpreted apps. The move parallels how Windows initially included then later discarded DOS.

“Everyone invested in [traditional PCs] is screwed,” said Shapiro, who spent 14 years at IBM before becoming a consultant and entrepreneur. “With Metro and Windows 8, Microsoft is essentially walking away from the PC and leaving it to die,” he said.

Companies who make PCs will see their already thin margins wither away over the next few years from a lack of investment in PC software, he argued. “You can already see the train wreck in HP and Dell—rather than defending the PC, they are running away from it,” he said.

“It’s my contention you need to stimulate PC software development, but the only group doing that today is the computer gamers—they have the only software that comes close to stressing a PC,” said Shapiro. “Nobody wants to develop for the PC anymore because there is no money in it, and VCs won’t support PC software startups because they only support apps now,” he said.

PC salvage?

Shapiro believes his company, Imbue, could help revive the PC software industry. Imbue has a patented method for quickly loading software on PCs that he claimed enables OEMs to offer custom software images to consumers.

2. EETimes has a slideshow related to Windows 8.

3. The Verge has a Windows 8 review

The most striking changes to Microsoft's new operating system are evident as soon as you first switch on a Windows 8 PC. The boot process is surprisingly fast for Windows: gone are the days of staring at an ugly splash screen or waiting for Windows to apply computer settings before you can log in and progress with your day. In fact, the boot process is so fast on new hardware that you barely see the redesigned Windows logo that greets you ahead of an entirely new OS.

There are a variety of ways to purchase Windows 8. Typically, it will be available pre-installed on machines from stores and online outlets, but anyone with an older system running XP, Vista, or Windows 7 can also upgrade for $39.99. Microsoft is using an online installer to let users check compatibility with their systems and upgrade.

Microsoft is also introducing a new version of Windows designed for ARM-based chipsets. Windows RT is based on Windows 8, with the new Windows 8-style user interface, but it will not run traditional desktop applications — an important difference to understand.

Good Stuff

* Touch-friendly interface with Live Tiles
* Enables tablet and laptop hybrids
* Free streaming music from Xbox Music
* Solid improvements in Desktop mode

Bad Stuff

* A steep learning curve
* A lack of Windows 8 style apps
* Awkward to control with traditional keyboards and mice
* No true windowing on Windows 8 style apps, full-screen

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