Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 21st Oct 2012 16:13 UTC, submitted by MOS6510
Windows "I've been writing about Windows for almost 20 years, and I feel like I've kind of seen it all. But for the past several days, I've been struggling under the weight of the most brutal email onslaught I've ever endured over these two decades. And if my email is any indication, and I believe it is, the majority of people out there have absolutely no idea what Windows RT is. This is a problem." When even Paul Thurrot is worried, you can be sure it is, actually, a problem. We're going to see and hear about a lot of frustrated customer who can't load up their 1997 copy of Awesome Garden Designer 2.0 Deluxe.
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Anyways, what difference does the term PC make? The point is that small light tablets and smartphones are taking the former roles of conventional desktops and laptops for things like casual web browsing and gaming, while conventional personal computers are now used more often for specific tasks requiring typing, more precision, and more screen real estate.

A lot of difference in minds of the people and how they see technology around them, and how it would affect their lives when they understand how wonderful age we are living right now. However you're probably right that if everybody started using "PC" for the category I'm trying to explain here, and started using "The Microsoft platform" to refer IBM-PC clones with Intel chips running Windows and "The Microsoft ARM platform" to refer the Windows RT, it would just be a change of the word, and world would move on as usual.

However even that would help make it easier to explain the general categories of the computers for people, and how not all the computers are the same. And that's why I'd like to point out that this isn't a new behaviour where new devices take roles of other older devices.

And why we are letting people of the past, who had no understanding on how we could use our generation's devices, define the actual terms and words for these new devices which don't fit to them at all?

And why should I pay for removal of artificial restrictions to hardware I want to tinker with? Why should I be labelled as a cracker when I open device I paid for wide open to make it do something more useful? Explaining how much more we are using personal computers might help with these issues.

The State of the Personal Computer market as of today is a result of lack of competition in PC architectures. 30 years ago market had several different PCs competing all each other. Those other systems died because they weren't able to compete. Things were different. People now might not even consider other PCs PCs just because the only PC which survived that era was the IBM-PC and clones which were really crappy devices with all kinds of limitations and so much time has passed when it's been de facto [desktop] PC on the market.

We are living a kind of digital dark age already because we are using the crappy hardware solutions which don't drive general good for everybody, we are in essentially locked into Intel's hardware architecture and Microsoft's Windows software platform. If IBM-PC had to really compete against a legacy free PC, it wouldn't be able to do it. And that's essentially what we are seeing here in forms of iPad and other new wave of PCs.

I just wish that the platforms would be more open for innovation and competitiveness. The iPad is a very closed in nature. And Windows is going to be even more closed. I'd much more see hardware which is open for changes, and open for other software platforms. Explaining the very nature of the personal computers would help more people realise this too.

Like I wrote earlier, Famicom or NES, as it's also known, is a complete PC. You can plug in a keyboard, do BASIC programming, use disk drive to save and load programs, connect to BBS boards and do punch of other stuff with it. It's a PC like Commodore 64 is a PC. Oh hell, it even sports similar CPU as in C=64 because the origin is the MOS Technologies. Still it's _only_ considered to be _just_ a gaming device.

The point isn't the primary advertised function either. iPad and smartphones are programmable devices. You can create applications for them. You can do more with them than just a single task of reading a book or making a phone call. Personal Computer can handle these two very personal data flows and manage them for you. iPad and a generic smartphone aren't different devices, they are very close to each other.

You should consider iPads relationship with iPhone. What else iPhone is than a iPad but with a phone feature? Yes, it comes with a different form factor, but at the same time it's using same CPU, same RAM and the same GPU and further more same software stack inc. the OS itself. (yes, I simplified this comparison a little bit to make it easier to understand)

Consumers are used to buying things aimed for single purpose. But this isn't the case in near future where a single device will perform even more tasks of various devices. Will there even be a devices primarily aimed for specific tasks unless they're mission critical?

In that sense, iPads and similar tablets should be called nanocomputers, and smartphones should be called picocomputers. They are different sized devices with different purposes.

The Reasons I wouldn't call tablet devices such as iPad nano computers are the same I explained earlier. The different sized devices with different purpose doesn't give a privilege to be a whole different computer. There's no split between PC/Linux/Mac. PC is a category for various consumer devices, Linux is a kernel, and Mac or Macintosh is specific brand of certain kind of PCs.

And to make it clear, while I think that the form factor is just one point to consider, I don't find it as the only one we should consider as the base of the definition for the PC. We should primarily be considering the actual usage. I personally consider the usage to be the primary defining factor. If purpose of the computer device is to manage your personal data flow, how it isn't a personal computer?

The largest of supercomputers and the smallest of android smartphones run Linux. Does that make them all PCs?

Nope. We aren't just talking about OSes here. The main difference between supercomputer running GNU/Linux and smartphone running GNU/Linux is that the supercomputer doesn't manage your personal data flow. There's also the hardware, cost, maintenance, personel, and work loads, to be considered among many other factors.

The super computer cannot be your personal device. You also cannot own a supercomputer. Supercomputer rarely is consumer affordable and it's also not a versatile. Super computer also requires educated technicians to use them. You just cannot sit down and start browsing web. Super Computers also tend to be batch processed or time-shared systems.

In my opinion the Personal Computer doesn't imply size, and Personal Computers as a category are something that includes really wide variety of devices.


I tried to keep this short and simple but it's too much. Maybe I should write a book about the topic? At least an essay... ( ^^);

Edited 2012-10-21 23:30 UTC

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