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June 2, 2020

The PC Is NOT Dead (10 Years Later)

I just read a fascinating article from Ed Bott, one of ZDNet’s resident Windows experts (full disclosure: I’ve co-authored some book chapters with him in the past). It’s called “The PC was supposed to die a decade ago. Instead, this happened“. He points to a New Republic article by “Big Thinker” Nicholas Carr that appeared on January 26, 2010 entitled “The PC Officially Died Today.” Long story short, Carr apparently believed that the iPad (unveiled that same day) rendered PCs obsolete. As Mr. Bott does nicely in his afore-cited ZDNet article, I beg to differ. I’ve owned an iPad since the 2 version came out in 2011 (that one’s retired, but I have an iPad Air of 2016 vintage, and am planning to buy another one soon). I also own 10 PCs at the moment (more, if you count give-aways to family members that include a Dell hybrid tablet of 2014 vintage and an MacBook Air acquired around that same time). I don’t want to live without any of them, especially my PCs.

The PC Is NOT Dead.speccy

Even on the road, I turn to a laptop PC as a work platform (and will often take the iPad along, too). Speccy output from my Lenovo X380 Yoga.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Different Boxes for Different Tasks/Role

I’m a writer by trade and avocation. I’ve tried working on an iPad with a keyboard and mouse. It’s just not the same experience for writing — and particularly for the kind I do most, with one or more windows open on one monitor where I’m researching stuff to write about, and the other monitor dedicated to Word, or WordPress, or some other content creation tool. So far, I haven’t been able to reproduce that experience on an iPad (or cellphone, for that matter). It’s not even close, even on a state-of-the-art iPad Plus with a big screen, wirelessly connected to another device (a PC, actually, which makes the example laughable) so I can use a second monitor.

For me, it’s simple. When I’m working, especially writing technical stuff, I’m on my desktop PC with its two 27″ UltraSharp 2717D monitors (plus an i7-6700, 32GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1070, and 10 disk drives with a total of over 15 TB of storage). It’s got everything I need on it, and I know how to make Windows 10 stand up and bark. Thus, I can also use it to remote into my other 9 PCs, surf the Web, make audio and video calls and teleconferences, and on and on and on. Can’t do most of that stuff on my iPad, nor would I want to. When I’m reading, or chatting with family at the dining room table, or driving somewhere (before all my newer cars came equipped with GPS navigation), I’m on the iPad using it for Kindle (reading), Safari (surfing), or VZ Navigator (Verizon’s $5/month GPS-based navigation app).

To me, there’s no conflict. There’s also no way I could live and work without a real, honest-to-gosh PC to get the job done. I suspect most content creators, programmers, data analysts, and other professionals working with and on information for a living feel the same way. Sure, some of them may run Linux or macOS instead of Windows 10 like I do, but that’s a matter of personal choice and proclivity. But you just can’t get the kind of peripherals, storage, and horsepower that you need from a more mobile device. This will undoubtedly change as we dig deeper into the 21st century, but I’m of the opinion that most information professionals will continue to work on PCs (or something more like than unlike them) for the foreseeable future. And when I go on the road, and must take a more portable computing platform with me, I still reach for a PC laptop, not my iPad. I can get my work done on the go on the former, but not the latter. I’ve tried, and the iPad just doesn’t cut it for me, even when I’m on a cruise ship or in a hotel room somewhere.

So no: the PC is NOT dead. Not even 10 years after Mr. Carr pronounced its imminent demise. The old platform is still kicking and ticking along, with plenty of life left for the long haul. Not going away any time soon — at least, not that I can tell.

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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