I find it odd that the messages from the media is simultaneously "We should all throw away our PCs and use tablets, so Windows is doomed" and "Windows 8 is more tablet-friendly which no one wants, so it's doomed" - which is it? I'm glad that this Register article has noted that MS's direction, much as we may dislike it, does make sense if the former is true.
And I entirely agree with the Reg about the problem of talking about tablets and PCs as separate categories, as the lines become blurred - if in ten years time I'm using a portable device with keyboard, touchpad, touchscreen, and it can also work as a tablet, sorry, that's still a personal computer too. Already the phrase "tablet PC" is common. Questions such as whether tablets outsell "PCs" simply become an exercise in semantics, where you can claim either way depending on what you define the devices as. I'm tempted in getting some kind of touchscreen hybrid, as it seems the natural evolution of ultra-portable-devices-with-long-battery-life that I currently have with my Samsung netbook. But it'll have Intel inside it, and I'll be using it as a Personal Computer, with PC operating systems Windows and Linux.
Thankfully many of the hybrids still follow the "clamshell" (ASUS Transformer-style) - a problem with the clip-on keyboards is that the tablets end up top-heavy, so need a backstand, and only seem to work well on a desk, which seems to defeat the point of portability (where you may only have your lap - not to mention sitting at home on the sofa).
"If all you’re doing is checking email, posting Facetweets and buying stuff from Amazon, you don’t need an old-style PC, surely?"
I don't *need* one, but I don't *need* a tablet/phone. I'd prefer a laptop though, even for that - it's just as portable as a large tablet, and sits on my lap rather than me having to awkwardly hold it and use it at the same time, as well as having a rubbish keyboard. I can browse the Internet on my phone, but I often get out the ultra-portable if I need to start typing something. Of course you can attach a stand and keyboard and so on - just as you can eventually work out how to do other things like print from a tablet - but all you're doing there is gradually turning tablets into PCs anyway!
And if I want portability, a smartphone is far more portable than a large tablet. And here's another problem with categorisation - what's the difference between a smartphone and a tablet? It's also not clear what outselling PCs really mean. Already we must have phones outselling PCs, and people can happily use phones to do email and Internet, and people upgrade phones more often, and are less likely to share them, both leading to higher sales. But that doesn't mean people have thrown away their computers.
Should we cheer at the loss of MS dominance? Well yes if the alternatives are many choices, preferably open, including Android, Linux, ChromeOS. No if the alternative is the dominance of the far more locked down IOS, where Apple control the OS, the software *and* the hardware.