Personal Computing: A decade later*

*Subtitle: Predictions and the importance of the Metro UI and RT

What will personal computing look like ten years from now? What will be the most popular personal computing devices be in ten years from now (phones aside)? No one can really know for sure, but small hints can lead us to hypothesize what may be. To hypothesize about the future we must first look to the past; It is the early 2000's, nearly every household in the global north has at least one computer, and laptops are really starting to boom and take off. At the time, and even now, laptops were not nearly as powerful as their older brethren, the desktop, and I'd assume because of this, many people thought that these laptops would never replace the desktop for the wide majority, much less become more popular, however in a short amount of time, they did. Portability was prized over power, and it wasn't uncommon to meet someone who owned a laptop that had no desktop at all. Granted, over time, the laptop did become more powerful, but never as powerful as its predecessor.

Jump about 5 years later, the Netbook has been introduced, and is seeing some major growth and popularity, these devices are even less powerful than laptops, but they're cheaper, and sometimes even more portable. Again, power plays second fiddle to portability and of course price.

Now lets jump another 5 years; new exciting personal computing devices are coming out, we see the introduction of the iPad, the first popular and successful tablet that shook up the world and inspired many to make tablets similar to it afterward. We also see the introduction of Ultrabooks, less powerful than the laptop (as far as definitions go), but is, once again, a more portable device, unlike the netbooks though, they aren't necessarily less expensive, looks and build are important to the Ultrabook standard and are big part of why Ultrabooks are more popular than full fledged laptops.

Modern day, laptops/ ultrabooks are still the best selling segment of computing, and few people don't have one, however with a greater variety of tablets in both OS, price and OEM, tablets are seeing impressive growth in the market. Tablets, while often having a much more limited OS, boast better battery life, better security and of course, more portability.

According to the past, I would be lead to believe that the future of the common consumer market is the tablet, I'm sure many have reached a similar conclusion as well. Now, I'm not chanting that it is the death of full fledged operating systems, or the end of the desktop, I am however saying that in a decade from now, and perhaps in even less time, such things will be extremely niche, and in a sense, already are. Most people don't need more than what a tablet offers, and what it offers over laptops is far more valuable to the common consumer than what the laptop has over the tablet. It is also fair to keep in mind that the productive value of tablets will not stay the same, we already see tablets with full Office via RT, and tablets with software unique to tablets that help in more niche areas via iOS (DJ apps, and other apps related to more creative outlets). I wouldn't be surprised if more apps are being developed for phones and tablets than x86 apps even now. So what does this mean for the Metro UI? It means it is going to be more important than desktop in coming years. The desktop at the moment is more important than Metro for one reason only, it is used on more devices, but as tablets replace more and more laptops, as laptops replaced desktops not but a decade ago, more people will be using Metro than the desktop. Does this mean the disappearance of the desktop? No. It will still be here in some form, but it will be a used by a niche market. Metro won't remain stagnant either, Office is already being designed for the Windows store, as well as their being talk of PhotoShop doing the same. Not all legacy apps will transfer over, but I'd venture to guess that there will be enough that most will be able to say goodbye to the desktop. This also means that it is highly possible, that RT will be more popular than Full Windows [9, 10, 11+] due to its better battery life and security.

This is my prediction of personal computing, but I'm just a guy making a wild guess on the internet, so what is your prediction, hypothesis, thoughts? I'm curious to know.