Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

Summary: Windows 8 is one mammoth hedge on the possibility that PCs won't be able to evolve well in a land of Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.

SHARE:

Microsoft won't publicly acknowledge the concept of a post-PC era, but its actions speak louder than its words. Add it up and Windows 8 may be Microsoft's biggest OS launch in its history.

Why? Windows 8 will reveal whether Microsoft can keep its cash cow franchise relevant going forward. IDC estimates that by 2015 there will be more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices than wired tools such as the PC.

ZDNet's Great Debate, which will examine whether the post-PC era talk is bunk or reality, will look at the issue, but Microsoft's moves are telling. To wit:

  • Windows 8 is a refresh designed to keep the PC upgrade cycle going and bring its Metro interface to the mix (PC era).
  • The operating system is also designed to work on tablets and bridge the gap between the PC and tablet (post PC era).
  • Windows 8 will have a flavor for the ARM architecture that happens to run smartphones and tablets everywhere (post PC era).
  • Microsoft's new Start screen is designed to work equally well with a mouse and touch screen (both PC and post-PC eras).

In other words, Windows 8 is one mammoth hedge on the possibility that PCs won't be able to evolve well in a land of Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. Ironically, the tablet market is actually playing to Microsoft's favor. By being way late to the game, Microsoft allowed a parade of iPad rivals to fall---HP TouchPad and various Android devices---while enjoying pent up demand. The enterprise wants an Office integrated tablet. If Microsoft can deliver with Windows 8 it can navigate the tablet market.

Ed Bott outlined what he expects from Windows 8 themes. Others will have their impressions in the days to come. George Ou at the High Tech Forum argues that the PC and the Wintel platform will evolve going forward.

In the end, the largest question is whether Microsoft can juggle both the PC and post-PC era in the future. The stakes---Microsoft's key cash cow---is at stake.

Also:

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

107 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I don't understand this "post-pc era" stuff?

    What is a PC? Personal Computer. Is a tablet not personal? Can it not compute? The same goes for mobile phones. Anyway let's step away from the technical into the blogospheric alternate reality... yes I said BAR, AKA the place where you can find iPhone prototypes. I've spent enough time with my iPad to know that touch interface can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Try creating a spreadsheet with touch. Let's see how far you get before pulling your hair out.

    The long and short of it is Microsoft acknowledges the various PC form factors and they're creating an OS that caters to almost all of them. My iPad is useful for some tasks and my "PC" is useful for others. With Windows 8, I get the best of both worlds.
    General C#
    • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

      @General C#
      "The long and short of it is Microsoft acknowledges the various PC form factors and they're creating an OS that caters to almost all of them. My iPad is useful for some tasks and my "PC" is useful for others. With Windows 8, I get the best of both worlds."

      Very true. I think those transformer laptops are a good idea. Imagine sitting in your study working on a tedious spreadsheet and when you are done you just pull out the screen and go over it while laying on your couch. MS FTW
      lefleur1987
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @lefleur1987 Excellent example! xD
        ozl@...
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @lefleur1987 I'm looking forward to picking up a Transformer during tax return season!
        NordyJ
    • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

      @General C#

      post-pc is just a steve jobs term to describe something that never came to happen. we are howerver seeing the post-iphone era with android becoming the dominant standard and we may see the post-ipad era with windows 8 briging the full power of a pc to a touch UI.

      when you see post-pc in an aritcle, you can bet it was written by some mac fan hopelessly clinging to the old words of Jobs which in this case will go into history as one of his biggest fiascos.
      neonspark
      • Steve Jobs is right from consumer prospective

        @neonspark

        Apple is great at marketing to the consumer, that's why they have such great success. So for the average consumer the PC is not needed. In business setting the PC is still the way to go combined with all the other technology.
        voska1
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        PCs will always be around.

        Tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks, whatever, are all PCs.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @voska1 - I don't think you're accurate in that the average consumer does not need a PC/MAC/Linux desktop or laptop. There is a certain limited group of people who do very little besides consume and they are the target for touch devices. My 6th grader has papers to write and research to perform and for him a family laptop fits the bill perfectly. Average (non-executive) office employees have to create reports, spreadsheets, and craft e-mails longer than 1-2 sentences.
        tdogg219
      • Are you serious?

        @neonspark What rock have you been sleeping under? Post iPhone era? Post iPad era? Do you always make such factless-based statements?

        Incidentally, it isn't just users of Apple products that inaccurately keep referring to a post-pc era.
        GeoffMichael
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @neonspark I don't know if it would be post-ipad, iphone era but it's a true statement that they've lost majority of the market in comparison to what they had.

        Post-pc isn't just a Steve Jobs term though, I would have to say a lot of smart phone users throw it around as well.

        However it's all a moot point because it's pc's that people use to make games, android apps, and millions of other things. In fact the PC was responsible for the creation of the tabs and the Androids and Iphones, so the concept of it being "post-pc" is just silly.
        bahamutwing
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @neonspark

        A response that I usually reserve for enlightened individuals such as Loverock ... moron!
        GWCC
      • So for the average consumer the PC is not needed?

        @neonspark
        Really? Sales indicate that for the average consumer the tablet is not needed.
        William Farrell
      • dave95, so what that OEM's pay MS for a license

        @neonspark
        they have access to free OS's on their PC's yet buy tons of Windows licenses.

        Just because they have access to free Android doesn't mean they, or consumers, really want that as a first choice.
        William Farrell
    • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

      @General C#<br><br>Post-PC doesn't mean the end of traditional PCs. It just means mobile devices such as the popular iPad (and smart phones too) are becoming more and more capable devices allowing the possibility for consumers to use it as their primary "PC". The traditional PC will always be with us for certain specific tasks, but a device such as the iPad are perfectly suited for everything else that the average consumer does with their PCs. And a whole lot cheaper too than what those Windows Slates with a full license copy of Windows will probably cost.<br><br>This is the threat MS is facing now with their cash cow Windows in the consumer market. Why rush out to purchase a new Windows PC when you can buy a cool device like the iPad that can already handle the majority of tasks the average user use his/her PC today for (majority = consumption). HP already saw the threat and exited the consumer market. Add in a wireless keyboard or one of those Logitech ones that makes the iPad look like a laptop and you see the concern.<br><br>Microsoft is doing what is expected from a company who's afraid of change. They're protecting their cash cow (Windows licenses) by bundling it onto a form factor that doesn't require full blown Windows to succeed, as the iPad is proving. Allot of the things we do today with computers are done on the web, a full blown desktop is not required for that. They will find a niche just like they've done before with their SlatePC efforts but I predict these will be largely ignore by the wider gen consumer marker looking for light computing on cheaper appliance type devices like the iPad.
      dave95.
      • Afraid of Change

        @dave95. Dave - you nailed it. MSFT could have taken a leadership position, instead they are working hard at making themselves irrelevant. There is nothing exciting about any MSFT product. No one will be waiting in lines to buy an upgrade of a windows tablet version.
        rdowdy@...
      • The iPad is marketing gone mad

        @dave95. I do love how your argument is entirely based on what Microsoft will 'probably' charge for their OS and a load of hypothetical mumbo jumbo that is just covering for the iPad's short comings. I know 1 person with an iPad, they bought it for the kids to play with.
        Paul-ICC
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @dave95. I'd like to point out from what I've seen, that all these tabs and pads that the consumers are buying are nowhere around. Again maybe it's just the areas work has taken me, but I take notice and I haven't seen one tab or pad in use while I walked on colleges in AZ, NV, and CA. In fact I've only seen a handful in use about town. My question is where are all these appliances that are 'killing' the market?

        And did you call the iPad a "cheaper appliance" ?
        bahamutwing
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @dave95.
        The problem is microsoft will be able to keep prices inline with android which is a bit cheaper then the ipad and the ipad really doesn't do much even for the average user. It has so many limitations and for the cost you can still buy a used android tablet and brand new i5 laptop for ess then the basic ipad 2 giving you ten folds the ability and usefulness while not being chained to an ugly ipad that cost a ton for little functionality. The related fact is the pc is going no where and the fact the writer even attempts to persuade us into thinking pcs are on their last leg just shows a very narrow short view. The pc is going no where and Microsoft knows this but sees the oppurtunity to over take the market with a single os if they can make it actually work.
        Fletchguy
      • EXCITEMENT!! (???)

        Excitement is also a key component, and extremely important in this newest Windows launch. If Microsoft fails to garner a good deal of excitement... in the same way Apple did with the launch of the IPad, then it doesn't matter what they've put into their OS, many people will still yawn at it, like I have with their previous launches since XP.

        Though I use Windows on a regular basis, I'm not really looking for another Windows OS to be my computer of the future. The OS was not original or new when first introduced, and it still garners the same feelings.
        camcost@...
      • RE: Microsoft's big task: Juggle PC, post-PC eras

        @dave95: Just to be fair, as far as PCs go, Microsoft doesn't make the hardware, just the OS, right? So the onus would be on making Windows scalable across devices and hoping the OEMs do their part in providing the hardware that makes it work seamlessly in the New Tab Order. :)
        AJ in Nashville