What is Post-PC? I'm thinking mobile OS vs. desktop OS

What does Post-PC really mean, and why does the term get under folks' skin?
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor on

My test to leave the laptop/desktop behind for an extended period is going well so far. I haven't missed having a real laptop or a desktop for work even a little bit. Many following this experiment are missing the point of the attempt by getting caught up in the terminology. Perhaps I was mistaken in terming this a "Post-PC experiment" which has lots of folks ignoring what I am trying to do and instead concentrating on what the definition is for "PC", and in some cases even for a "laptop".

See related:

Walking the walk -- the Great Post-PC Experiment

The Great Post-PC Experiment -- Day 1 Notes

Using the term Post-PC has a simple connotation for me, and that's the premise behind my test. A more accurate explanation for what I consider a Post-PC scenario concerns the OS, not the hardware. I believe a Post-PC device is one which uses a mobile OS, not a full OS written for a desktop. In simple terms a Post-PC device is any running Android, iOS, or any other purely mobile OS. Anything running Windows or Mac OS X is of the old-school PC variety.

The point I am trying to address with my test is whether a mobile device of any ilk, running a mobile OS, can be used for extended periods without compromise. That's all I am trying to do, and the whole purpose of my test. I am not trying to declare the death of the PC, either laptop or desktop, or that the tablet is the next major hardware format. It's not, and the desktop OS isn't going anywhere either for a while.

No, I'm testing whether the mobile OS has evolved to the point that makes it possible for me, not anyone else, to leave the device running a full desktop OS behind for business trips, and just bring the mobile OS along. That's the sole purpose of my test, and it's a valid one for me. The less I have to bring on trips the better I like it, but only if it doesn't compromise the professional job that I do.

This simple definition of Post-PC is going to get stretched to the limits by Windows on Arm (WOA), as that's a purely mobile OS based on a full desktop OS. I guess we'll have to address that once it gets released and we see how it works in the field.

I suspect some folks get perturbed at the use of the term "Post-PC" since it was coined by the late Steve Jobs. That's not fair as I feel it is a genuine term for what I describe -- the evolution of the mobile OS to the point that devices previously considered incapable of being someone's primary computer can now do so. That's not a reach, it's already working fine for me so far.

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