2013 the Year the Desktop PC Dies - Executive Viewpoint 2013 Prediction: Firebrand Training

By Marcus Austin (Profile)
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Wednesday, January 2nd 2013
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Why the cloud and Microsoft are set to kill the desktop in 2013

Certain parts of the IT world have been heralding the end of the desktop for at least the last ten to fifteen years, and until now they’ve been wrong, totally wrong. However the tide is starting to turn and next year should be the starting point for a new world where the desktop no longer exists as we know it - thanks to the cloud.

The cloud is killing the PC, and 2013 will provide its death blow. But the biggest move to the end of the desktop is coming from Microsoft themselves, in their desire to emulate the success of cloud applications from rivals like Apple and Google. The problem with cloud applications for Microsoft is the constant speed of change. Microsoft just can’t compete with applications that change and expand on a day to day basis, when their own applications only change on a two to three year basis. Just look at Office, in the last 17 years it’s changed seven times. In the last 17 months a cloud based application will have updated five times or more.

In order to counter the cloud Microsoft is rumoured to be contemplating updating its own apps and OS on a more frequent basis. So apps like Office will now be updated on a quarterly basis, and its OS probably on a yearly basis. However while this is seen as a good thing for a cloud-based solution, it’s a nightmare for desktops. IT managers are going to look at the options; a desktop PC with a constant update headache versus a virtualised solution with a much reduced headache, and they’re all going to come to the same conclusion: so long PC.

But it’s not just with software where the cloud is provoking Microsoft into killing what it helped create. Alongside the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft also launched Surface, a device so unlike the current desktop PC in concept and execution that it should have “this device kills desktops” ground into the VaporMg magnesium casing.

The device seems to be devised with the sole intention of cannibalising the desktop that has provided Microsoft with funds since its beginning back in the ‘80s. Why would you want to own a desktop when everything can be done on your Surface via the cloud? Perhaps this is a reason why President of Microsoft’s Windows division Steven Sinofsky left the business so soon after the Surface launch? Had Microsoft realised they’d just killed the goose that lays the golden egg?

But it’s not just the PC manufacturers that are preparing for a PC-less and cloud only future. Viewsonic has been a traditional manufacturer of displays for 25 years, however that’s about to change. Rather than concentrating on creating displays that plug into a computer, they are instead creating intelligent “smart displays.” These connect to the cloud, and work with any device from smartphones to the soon-to-be-made-redundant PC.

Those old enough to remember the days before the PC will look at the display and say it’s just a thin-client in disguise, and in a way they’d be right. The Viewsonic “smart display” device has no on-board storage, uses a low-power processor, and it runs Android. However because it’s connected to the cloud it can run any application you want to deliver to it.

For an IT Manager it’s a no-brainer, there’s no moving parts, the power consumption is low, there are no OS upgrades and bug fixes to handle. Plus, everyone gets the same device so admin is easier and everyone is always on the same version of the application.

So join with me in raising a toast to 2013 and the death of the PC, “so long and thanks, it was nice knowing you.”