The end of the Desktop computing era? 52 replies

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What does the Fox say?

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23rd November 2002

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#1 8 years ago

Something that I have been pondering about, is how much longer the Desktop PC will be around.

The Apple iPod has proved that the Tablet PCs can function, and that there is a market. Not to mention that these devices have been a dream of designers for decades. As well as a popular sci-fi computing device (such as the Star Trek "Padd", etc), where it was touted as the future of computing.

Now that such a mainstream alternative to the Desktop PC is available, why would people buy desktops? Furthermore this latest generation is now growing up with mobile computing devices. It is very unlikely they will ever need an old-fashioned "desktop" computer. Their phones will be able to access any online content they desire. Their time with desktops will likely be limited to obsolete school, and work technology.

Sure our current generation is tied to desktops, and any PC gamer will purchase upgrades for as long as they are affordable, and perhaps longer. However, given the current and likely trend of computing, how much longer will the desktop be affordable. We have been enjoying steadily dropping prices on the components of the desktop, a side affect of mass production. As the masses move onto something else, we will watch those prices first stabilize, and then begin increasing.

The desktop will definitely last for four more years, but beyond that, who knows. Perhaps that is why Bill Gates released a "signed" edition of Windows Vista, and then retired. He may well have come to the same conclusion. I wonder if Windows 7 will be the last release for the desktop, or if there will be one more. After all, Windows XP survived an entire decade. How many decades does the deskop have left?

What comes next? Laptops will likely replace the role of the deskop, and may well become more upgradeable. Upgradeable graphics chips are currently being "tested" on the market. It would be interesting to see the teething issues involved in that transition.

For most, Tablets seem to be the market trend. Given the push for the last couple of decades, I doubt these devices will end up as a fad, or like 3D TV. Tablets are here to stay. The Apple iPad is now proving that there is a market for games, entertaiment, and productivity apps on such devices.

Mastershroom VIP Member

Frag Out!

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18th November 2004

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#2 8 years ago

The desktop has always been the best for sheer performance, as well as lowest cost for performance. Laptops can be powerful, but still not to the level of desktops, and those that come close are much more expensive than a comparable desktop setup. Tablets don't even factor into the discussion when it comes to performance.


Modern Warfare

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1st January 2005

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#3 8 years ago

I can't believe someone as knowledgeable as you would seriously suggest such a thing Monster. Besides the obvious, perhaps not considered is many people don't need the mobility and portables will never have the freedom of a separately purchased large size display. One of the best things about desktops is the many cases to choose from though, which allow for great airflow and ease of maintenance and upgrades.

God forbid the day should ever come that we are so space conscious desktops are considered too cumbersome, or so trendy that everyone is fiddling with their portables in public rather than actually paying attention to their fellow beings. Oops, I think the latter's ball has already been rolling for some time due to the many addicted to their cell phones and iPods.

I've always considered myself a gadget freak, as long as the gadgets serve a necessary purpose and are not distracting to an otherwise healthy lifestyle. I'm not so sure most of these portables fall into those criteria, and I for one applaud the laws popping up here and there making driving with a cell phone in hand illegal.

Mr. Pedantic

I would die without GF

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8th October 2006

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#4 8 years ago

I contend such a thing would not happen anytime soon. While I will not stoop to exactly the tone of Omen's post, I do think that such a statement is...shortsighted.

Desktops have a place that will be hard to replace with any mobile, or indeed, any ensemble of mobile devices. Gaming? OnLive is immature and gives crappy IQ, but even when it gets all the wrinkles ironed out (which I predict will be a fairly long time coming) such an experience on a 10" screen will be sadly lacking, at best. Productivity? I like the iPad now that I have a friend who's bought it and I've gotten to get a bit of a feel for it, but nothing - and I really mean nothing - can improve productivity more than having a second monitor. And for both gaming and productivity, you've got a relatively huge monitor sitting on a desk anyway. Why not go the whole monty?

The mid-high performance niche is completely owned by the desktop. While cloud computing is becoming a lot more popular, and is something that I think is a good idea, it still doesn't completely make the desktop obsolete. And when all's said is done, mobile devices are advantageous purely for people who are mobile. And I know a lot of people who, for example, want an excuse to keep their work separate from their personal life, or who need the pure performance of a set of full LCDs rather than an anaemic 10" screen, or who want the comfort of typing on a full-sized, ergonomic keyboard. And while DTRs are tempting, in my experience they tend to be hot, inflexible, and virtually tied to a power point in any case.

Mr. Matt VIP Member


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17th June 2002

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#5 8 years ago

Apple's iPad is a funky little gizmo. But Apple's closed community and anti-software-installation policy will consign it to the casual users in the long-run, and it's about as useful for advanced functionality such as professional photographic editing as a lame dog.

Laptops are handy for casual users, for they offer the same functionality as a desktop while taking up a fraction of the space. My mother, who does nothing but check her e-mail and play solitaire on her computer, has a laptop because she doesn't want to have a desktop PC cluttering up the house. But laptops are never going to be as powerful as full-scale desktop PCs, and if you've ever tried writing on them for prolonged periods of time you will know the joy of a full-sized, ergonomic keyboard and a large, high-resolution monitor. Laptop computers will remain the choice of the amateur, the student, and the travelling businessman. The same as it always has.

At the end of the day, the PC will always have a purpose. It shall always be at the top end of the performance stakes, they are far more comfortable to use for long-durations (as in the case of people who do extensive writing), and they are more practical for various professionals. And lets face it, very few gamers will be willing to swap a desktop for a laptop, due to the dip in performance and the lack of customisation.

As for tablets, no serious professional, and not even a hardcore PC gamer, would for a moment consider swapping their desktop PC for a touchscreen, wafer-thin gizmo. They are simply a different device, with a different purpose and a different audience. The tablet computer will only serve as a viable replacement to people who have no need for the advanced functions of a desktop PC anyway, and most of those people will already have switched to laptops quite some time ago.


I got them crazies.

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31st December 2008

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#6 8 years ago

I don't know about how long desktops will last, but I know one thing; as soon as they make upgrading a laptop as affordable as upgrading a desktop, im switching over. But I think there are still many, many years left with desktops, just simply because they have better cooling, can perform better (currently) and can be upgraded!

Im building one of these old "desktops" today actually lol ;)


A Phoenix from the ashes

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18th April 2006

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#7 8 years ago

I was thinking about this the other day too actually. I think that among mainstream users the popularity of portable devices - the iPad, laptops, tablets, slates, etc. - has skyrocketed in the last couple of years, and that's to be expected, as laptops can now offer sufficient specs to rival basic desktops. Hell, the iPhone 3GS is higher speced than my first few laptops.

In the next couple of years, I see all-in-one PCs becoming more popular. A big screen, full keyboard and mouse, while having enough power to handle basic word, internet browsing, and movies locally, and having access to cloud gaming. I do think however that there will always be a place for the traditional desktop. Unless companies can agree on a standard for several laptop components (1), I don't see laptops being as cheap to upgrade as desktops any time soon.

(1) Harddrives and memory are there already, but video cards still have a long way to go. MXM is there, but only used by a fraction of manufacturers.


Modern Warfare

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1st January 2005

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#8 8 years ago
Mr. Pedantic;5366795While I will not stoop to exactly the tone of Omen's post, I do think that such a statement is...shortsighted.

Saying it's shortsighted is the same as saying it lacks knowledge, get over it P. A bit hypocritical of you to claim I'm stooping when you say the same thing using different words.

The truth about modern society is not something one should talk about in a pacifist tone IMO. The mere mention of the way the public conducts themselves with such gadgets may sound abrasive, but none the less true.

I think the "stooping" is done by those whom have lost respect for acknowledging the presence of others in public due to the introversion of texting and playing with their gadgets more than is respectful or safe.

To make mere mention of that fact is not stooping, it's being bold enough to acknowledge fundamental problems with today's society. I see that as concerned, not disrespectful.

Moreover as I mentioned above, changing laws are showing that a growing number of people are concerned about such things by the fact that those regarding cell phones having been changed in many places. Or is it "stooping" to say deaths have actually been caused by those more concerned about yakking on them whilst driving vs paying attention to the rights of others?

Cell phones may not be quite the same as the gadgets of the thread topic, but they're not far off and most of these gadgets can be and often are just as distracting. Is it so bad to see the need to address a problem well before it reaches epidemic proportions?

MrFancypants Forum Admin

The Bad

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7th December 2003

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#9 8 years ago

[COLOR="Black"]Tablets and the like may become popular, but I don't think they'll replace the desktop. They'll rather create a new market or encroach on laptop territory.

You really need a lot of space for decent hardware and I'd say the trend is actually going towards larger PCs. In the 80s/90s your average desktop was a small box actually sitting on top of your desk. Nowadays most people interested in performance have some kind of tower case. While some components have been integrated into the mainboard (onboard sound, graphics) the high end graphics and sound cards didn't exactly get smaller. Instead it is now popular to use two graphics cards at the same time. Using more of the same components in parallel configurations seems to be a big trend. It might not take much more space than existing towers provide, but I don't see any potential decreasing the size of the cases without giving up performance.[/COLOR]

FileTrekker Über Admin

I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.

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15th December 2002

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#10 8 years ago

I dunno.

For the moment, you can't beat a desktop PC. I can see a day however, where your tablet can be placed on any desk at home or work, and the screen, keyboard and mouse on that desk wirelessly detects it and turn it into a workstation. I can also see every and all types of devices connecting to it wirelessly, and I can see computing power being reduced to the size where all the hardware we swap out of our desktops can be swapped out of these tiny pads in the form of modules of some-kind.

I figure it's a long way off but I can see society progressively moving towards one device for all uses, and more and more intelligent ways of connecting devices and integrating our technology. I don't think the "traditional" desktop PC will last more than another 20 or so years, maximum.

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