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Stuck in the PC Era

I ordered a new desktop PC over the weekend. This may shock some. And that shock is an interesting thing indeed.

If Steve Jobs is to be believed, we've arrived in the "Post-PC Era", that time when we work from whever we are, no longer tethered to some archaic metal box on a desk. We're free from the ball and chain of desktop OSes, too -- similarly bulky software that doesn't understand the needs of the modern worker. We've shed our poundage, and are finally light and agile. No one wants or needs PCs anymore. They're as dead as a vinyl record left out to melt in the sun.

And if you believe that, I have some Atlantic oceanfront property to sell you.

I bought my new desktop because it was the only real option. It does things my iPhone, iPad and even laptop can't do. In my case, I need to upgrade my video production capabilities. That meant a higher-end 64-bit processor, a 1TB or greater hard drive spinning at a minimum of 7200 rpm, and a fire-breathing graphics card with dual output for starters. And things like a faster system bus, 8GB or more RAM, and so on also come in handy.

Oh, and I wanted something for less than a grand. Think you'll find that in a MacBook Air?

Not everyone needs to be spitting out high-def video, of course. But for everyday productivity at a reasonable price point, a desktop computer can't be beat. A modern low-end, $500 box with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office will do everything 99 percent of businesses need to do. Sure, you can do spreadsheets on your Android, iPhone or Windows Phone 7 device. Do you really want to, though? It'll work fine in a pinch, but beyond that...

Another hidden advantage of desktop computers: they won't walk out of the building and get infested with the latest malware, then plugged back into the network the next day. Management is a comparative breeze.

Bigger boxes are great for developers, too. It's not unusual for devs to rock two or three monitors at once. And virtualization, a dev's best friend, works better and faster on the average desktop than the average laptop. In the brave new world of agile development, turnaround time becomes paramount, and even a small increase in speed can have a big impact in deliverables.

So no, Steve, the PC era is far from dead. I'm glad that we're now more mobile than ever, and we can get more work done on the road, in the air, in the coffee shop, wherever. As I've mentioned before, I'm a confirmed gadget guy, and have an iPhone, iPad, netbook and laptop among my toys. But the PC still has an important place in my work life, and in those of millions of others. That fact that one market is growing doesn't mean that others are dead. There's room for everyone at this party.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/29/2011

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