The Future of the Desktop - Here or Not?
Before I start, I'll get one thing clear: ... actually, four things.
- The original point: When I say desktop, I mean both the physical Desktop (y'know, monitor and box, or all-in-one) and Laptops; continuing on...
- This is an self-opinionated piece. I might be, and probably am, wrong. I don't mind people having a different opinion, but I don't want people to fire direct insults at me because of my opinion; and...
- I don't want any Windows 8 shadow-lurkers to be exclaiming their point. In my mind, WinRT/Windows RT is in the same relm as other Post-PC products. Windows 8 is part of the Dekstop; finally...
- I'm unbiased. I own an iPod Touch, Galaxy Nexus (Android), HD7 (Windows Phone), MacBook (White, Polycarbonate), Gaming PC, PSP, DS Lite and 3DS. I buy what's good for me.
Excellent! Seeing as that's out of the way, let's get started~!
The Past and the Present
Before we head Back-to-the-Future (I'm sorry), we need to take a look at the present-day (and a bit of the past).
An era commonly referred to as 'the Post-PC Era' and 'PC Plus' arguably began in 2007 with the iPhone. There had been earlier attempts to mobilise the computer in 2002 with Windows XP and Windows Tablets, but those fell flat on their incompetence in User Interface and Responsiveness.
Fast-forward to 2010: iPad. We all know how this went. Although Apple obviously hyped the launch of the iPad, even Apple's Exectuives have gone on record of saying that not even they expected the iPad to be as much of a success as it currently is.
What's Apple doing with this situation? Completely running with it. We have 687,671 total apps (statistic from 148apps.biz) in Apple's App Store at the moment, with around 200,000 of those optimised for iPad.
Depending on whether Windows 8/Windows RT (WinRT) flops or succeeds determines whether my belief turns out to be true or false... so I'll do what I believe will happen in both scenarios.
Scenario A: Windows 8/Windows RT is a roaring success
RT tablets sold in the hundreds and millions. Developers, Developers, Developers and jumping on board (again, sorry). What now?
If this scenario were to play out, I believe that people would continue to buy PCs. Or, since Microsoft likes to call everything these days a darn PC, people would continue to buy 'Desktop' computers. This is because of the unification going on behind-the-scenes of WinRT. This would ensure the Desktop would be around for (seemingly) at least the next 10 years.
Scenario B: Windows 8/Windows RT is a complete failure
Now, before I start this one, you may have noticed that there's no "Windows 8/Windows RT co-exists with the iPad". This is because I believe that there's no middle-ground. Most App Developers these days aren't working in IT; they're just normal people writing stuff they'd enjoy using. As such, they don't have time to pick-and-choose platforms, which is why that determines if a platform will fail or succeed.
Okay, now, onto this scenario. RT is a dead platform. The Tiles be 'a flippin', but nobody's home. What now?
You've basically got a scenario where Microsoft's Market Share is significantly diminished. People who have bought into this platform are basically stuck with a dead tablet. Apps make up a tablet; Apple has shown this with the iPad (and iPhone). If you've got a tablet without the hit apps, what do you do with it? It's like the current situation with Windows Phone.
My Belief of What Will Happen
I personally believe that Scenario B will happen. There's no contest. We've also got numerous reasons to believe this.
Firstly, you've got to look at Microsoft's predictions for Surface.
"[We hope to sell] a few million Surface PCs in the coming year" -Steve Ballmer
Well, okay, that's fine. It's just a reference device, right? Wrong. The Surface is pretty much the only device that's getting the "Casual Consumer" excited about Windows 8 Tablets. Offerings from the likes of HP and Dell aren't going to appeal to many, especially because they're out-fitted with Intel X86 SOC's, and as such, have a fan.
Next point: the design. Remember, I'm referring to RT devices. These will be confined to the Metro UI. For those who don't know, "Metro UI" is basically a Design Language being used by Microsoft to make itself seem artsy. You either love it or hate it, and Microsoft see this as their strategy to win the 'Portable Computing Market'.
I've had first-hand experience with Metro. As stated above, I own a HD7 Windows Phone. When I first bought it, it was main device, I thought: "Woah, this is incredibly awesome! I mean, there's these Tiles that flip and do things... awesome!". Then, after a while I started thinking: "Hmm... this is getting a bit stale. I mean, Tiles are cool and stuff, but looking at the same UI over-and-over again is getting old. I can't set a wallpaper or change the way the Tiles are layed out apart from moving them around and changing the colour... and there's only a set amount of colours I can choose from... YAWN".
I then switched to my Galaxy Nexus about a month ago and haven't looked back. I can modify pretty much anything with the device, and it's great. But enough about that, let's look at the wider picture.
After a while, people need a change of look. If you show them the same thing over and over again, they're going to start yawning. It's like trying to revise for all your tests in one night: it get's boring and it 'aint going to happen.
...And that means?
The reason I even bothered to go through that on a post about whether the Desktop will remain relevant is because Microsoft basically owns the Desktop. If people don't like what they see, they'll move to another platform. People generally own iOS devices, so that means that they may very well grab an iPad rather than jumping over to a Mac. This would mean that the Desktop will virtually cease to to exist...
This means that, in conclusion, I believe the Dekstop will seize to exist in around 2-4 years. They'll only be present in places that require them, like Government and IT Industries, and even then will probably still be running XP!
This post probably has a ton of errors, but after writing 11105 words, I can't be bothered reviewing it. Please let me know if you find any errors! :-) As I said before, I could be, and probably am, wrong. Feel free to discuss!