back to article Inside Steve Ballmer’s fondleslab rear-guard action

Windows 8 is going down like a bucket of cold sick - but you're going to have to get used to it. It's not going away. If Microsoft has a future, this is it. Worse still, if you're a pro, you're going to have to support the thing. Microsoft had to make this desperate, poorly integrated attempt to foist a Version 1.0 touchscreen …

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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So that's one fondleslab

    And all the data I need when I'm not on the web?

    I suspect that folk who need portability and don't use the slab as an entertainment device will still be slinging laptops with real screen and respectable storage for another three or four weeks yet.

    1. mmiied

      Re: So that's one fondleslab

      the foldle slab will have a 500gb non volatile memory cache on the chip and it will cache your docs the whole process will be invisible to the user only us techies will know now it works the same way Users do not know how DNS works or IP packet routing

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: So that's one fondleslab

        It will also dump your usage history to the NSA silo once connectivity is back and you won't worry about it.

        1. Ted Treen
          Boffin

          Re: So that's one fondleslab

          I was a sales support techie in 1980 for Burroughs Computers. All salesmen (Burroughs & others) repeated the mantras regarding "The paperless office".

          Most of them even believed it...

          So, pardon me if almost 35 years later, as I sit surrounded by printers & reams of paper, I say when I hear comments like "touchscreen phones and tablets are going to replace the personal computer" my thoughts are along the lines of "We'll see:- time will tell..."

          1. mmeier

            Re: So that's one fondleslab

            Paperless - not yet, there are some dinosaurs left that insist on printed stuff.

            Very little paper - yes. A nice Windows tablet pc with Wacom pen replaced A4 college blocks, postIt notes etc. almost completely. And being Windows the notes taken are easily shared with basically every Windows PC (all since Vista, XP needs to download a viewer).

            At 12'' (privat) and 13''(company) the units are "close enough" to DIN A4 paper for all practical purposes. And if I need more screen - docking station and I have a core-i based workstation. In the conference room it is WIDI to the beamer / conference call screen and notes are taken using the tablet pc rather than a flipchart.

            1. Bootman

              Re: So that's one fondleslab

              > Paperless - not yet, there are some dinosaurs left that insist on printed stuff.

              I'm not in theory against a paperless office, but such dinosaurs include every single company I have ever worked at, anyone sending me post, (be it banks, government, friends, family, insurance companies, and junk mail), computer companies who supply instructions on paper, railways and airlines, (when getting journey print outs and tickets), garages (MOT certificate), the local police (reporting crime), I could go on...

              I don't forsee a paperless world for the majority of us in my lifetime. I'll believe it when printers stop being sold to the general public.

            2. proud2bgrumpy

              Re: So that's one fondleslab

              Ah yes, the Paperless office - the first environmentalist led *eco-revolution* - insisting that we stop cutting down trees to make recyclable/reusable paper (the only storage medium that is proven to last many 100's of years with no continued energy requirements and is beaten only by stone/clay carved tablets which have portability / re-usability limitations) in favour of cutting down trees and burning them to store them magnetically in file and media formats that are unlikely to last a couple of decades.

              I remember at Junior School consigning a batch of 5.25" Floppy Disks into a Time Capsule to be opened in the year 2078 - nobody thought to include a Floppy Disk Drive as well (BTW - anyone remember Wordstar?) - what a disappointment that will be in 65 years - still, I'm sure the photos, drawings and hand-written letters will be just fine.

              I guess therefore that Cloud is the answer, if all the data is held online in the various equivalents of Google Docs, then the assumption is that the document formats will be updated along with the apps that created them.

              Tablets are good for content consumption, Laptops/PCs are good for content creation. Most users only need a Tablet/SmartPhone to cyber bully their friends on Bacefook / buy stuff on eBay / view porn - until recently their only choice was a low spec PC which 90% of users barely understood how to use. Tablets allow people [who shouldn't be able to] use technology to continue their cyber-bullying / online purchases / porn-viewing with minimum time invested in learning or knowledge of the underlying tech.

              Truth is M$ probably got the right idea - unify their UIs for Content Creators and Content Users with a single Metro/WinPhone/Win8 GUI - problem is the change has been too radical, too fast and too high-handed. Users rightly feel they've been rail-roaded into an unfamiliar GUI and don't want to re-learn core apps (jeeze I still set my WindowsXP, Windows7 GUIs to 'Windows Classic' ie Windows 95). Whereas with Android/iOS devices, we have had the choice of buying into a new GUI and device formfactor.

              If M$ had only dual-skinned Windows8 with the classic Windows/GUI for keyboard operation and Metro for tablets operation, it would have been a very different story - instead they just gave us another Vista. Now they're not only late to the party, but they've brought the wrong bottle of wine.

              Oh yes, the second environmentalist *victory* was to resist Nuclear in favour of burning still more trees (surely they were anti-coal/gas too), so environmentalists all over the world - just admit that you are the cause of 'Man Made Global Warming' ;-)

              Nah! - only kidding, now we all know that MMGW->GlobalWarming->Climate Change is really just a 'research-grant-grabbing' way of bringing attention to 'The Weather', we don't blame you for anything (other than windfarms of course)

          2. Sporkinum

            Re: So that's one fondleslab

            Cool, though the Burroughs I started out on was already obsolete when I was an operator on it. A B3500. Punch cards, head per track drives, and chain-train printer.

          3. StevieBee

            Re: So that's one fondleslab

            They are replacing the PC as much as digital books are replacing hard copies. PC's have advantages that portable touchscreens don't such as better hardware for games, media manipulating, animation rendering, or any other CPU heavy programs, not to mention more sizable disk space storage. Also many people just like to sit down at a desk and have a big screen, keyboard, and mouse without needing to unplug/dock anything. Just like some people prefer a hard copy of a book.

            While they may take a market share away from PC's, they will never completely replace them because of these advantages the demand for PC's will still be sizable for a very long time to come.

    2. Mikel

      Re: So that's one fondleslab

      Microsoft Office XP system requirements:

      Single core processor at 0.133 GHz minimum. 0.4 GHz recommended.

      RAM 0.024 GB (OS) + 0.008 GB (Office)

      Storage 0.21 to 0.26 GB

      Display 640x480 (vga) minimum, 1280x1024 (svga) recommended

      Methinks my Nexus 7 with ~80x those specs and 5x the display should be able to fondle a document just fine. I don't use any features they've added since. I've added a bluetooth KB/Mouse combo and a cable for the 55" display.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: So that's one fondleslab

        XP on a tenth the requirements of a nexus 7 could do something magical that fondle fruit just can't: multitask.

        Real multitasking. Where multiple applications and documents can overlap, easily exchange information, you can look at one and type into the other or track multiple items subconsciously (such as file transfer bars) while working on something else. Really useful for making video editing, audio editing, photo editing, any writing that requires research, development or so on and so forth not a gigantic agony of assery.

        With a tenth the specs. Productivity = profit.

        1. proud2bgrumpy

          Re: So that's one fondleslab

          Nope - I don't know about iOS (don't have one) but Android is Linux, so it MultiTasks way better than XP (or indeed any M$ Operating System ever has) - The apparent single-task nature of a SmartPhone / Tablet is entirely a GUI choice and the form factor of the screen you have available to you

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            @proud2bgrumpy

            What is the point of a multitasking-capable OS if the UI - and all the associated coded libraries and applications - can't and won't multiask? The ability to flick a slider to switch between one task a time isn't multitasking, either.

      2. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: So that's one fondleslab

        >1280x1024 (svga) recommended

        And yet they flogged us all those x600 or x768 screens!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So that's one fondleslab

      You have to look at the money trail. This concept of 'no serviceable parts' comes from many sectors. First there is no reason for a battery being non-replaceable other than greed. As an example, Apple lap tops will be coming with no user serviceable parts, such as batteries. They have glued the ram, battery, and everything else in hopes you won't mind shelling a couple of grand out every two years or so. Especially as this article says, processor speed increases are coming to an upper limit. So if computer companies are to exist, they must force users to upgrade frequently, even though there is no real reason to! Microsoft has released Windows 8 in hopes to increase income. But as it has been seen, that hasn't occurred. Why? Most corporations have a lot of money invested in software and the existing system serves it purpose. That is why the question is asked 'Why incure the expense of upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 from XP when our current system meets the needs and upgrades will be tramatic? But as Microsoft has seen, just dropping Windows XP support and curtailing Windows 7 sales won't save them. So to force upgrades, they must make hardware that is totally unrepairable. Right now, when my P4 computer has problems, due to open hardware, I can easily find cmos batteries, hard drives, upgrade memory, replace cpu's or cpu fans and power supplies. In short, this computer can last a long time yet. So this whole issue isn't as much about providing better faster service to the consumer of computer products as it is in forcing people to upgrade whether they need to or not. Even changing consumer computers to light client to cloud OS's will provide a ton of revenue that wouldn't exist in a stand alone pc.

    4. kmac499

      Re: So that's one fondleslab

      My first serious desktop Win-Computer back in '91 had a huuuge 200Mb hard drive.. (Yes MB not Gb)

      My two year old phone has 4Gb internal and is currenty sporting an 8Gb postage stamp memory card

      My newest tablet has 16Gb internal and 16Gb Postage stamp.

      Yes my laptop\netbook has a 500Gb hard disk mostly unused to date..

      What do I really need on tap and immediately available..? That I can't carry with me now let alone next year.

  2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

    I am not ready for a post-productivity input paradigm. I am too old and set in my ways to make the jump. Touch is a consumptive design method. I can't think of myself as "just another consumer." So I'll keep keyboards and precision pointers around. I'll use old tech if I have to. I'll even exit IT and look for a new career as a writer.

    These young pups can have their Microsoft Tiles 8.11 for fondlegroups. I'll resign myself to being one of the few who create, not consume...even if that makes me anathema to the hoi polloi and the digital hipsters of the new millenium.

    WIMP works well with how my brain works. Search doesn't, commandline doesn't and one-thing-at-a-time swipy fondle groping doesn't either.

    Fondleslabs and Kinects may well be the future of the endpoint. PowerShell may well be the future of the admin. If so, I'll be cast adrift with no interface to call my own, no device that works well for the way my brain processes information.

    That's okay. The older I get, the less I care. I can, in fact, live happily without needing up-to-date computers and the approval of the internet. Eventually, the pendulum will come back 'round, and they'll realise that people like me are an "untapped market." Just like the CLI saw a resurgance, I expect the post-post-productivity computer design to be a productivity-based one once more.

    I'll spend my retirement with computers that don't suck. In the interim, I'll spend my time makeing the stuff the young fondleslabbers consume. On my desktop, laptop and netbook.. My old, oudated, GET OFF MY GODDAMNED LAWN machines.

    And I'll charge the poxy whoreson hipsterati through the nose to access my content, too.

    Ta.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

      "Touch is a consumptive design method IMNSHO."

      TFTFY

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

        Prove me wrong.

        Have a large group of individuals create quality multimedia; writing, touched up photos, audio, video, quality code, animation, 3d design and more on both fondleslabs and desktops. Let them have access to any software or hardware they desire for the devices, but restrict input methods on the next-gen types to touch and voice only.

        Now, how long does it take the average individual to create finished works of equal quality based on devices of each input paradigm? When you can prove that the majority of people - or even the small subset of non-linguistic thinkers I belong to - can produce better quality works, faster by using touch, arm waving and voice then I will give fucks.

        Until then, it's just the gnashing of teeth and the wailing of hipsters. I demand evidence...what I've seen thus far makes touch an inherently consuptive input methodology. That is not just my personal experience, it is looking at large quantites of research on the topic by well-funded scientists.

        So...prove that this is "just my opinion" by doing the hard work to prove me wrong.

        ...you can prove it, can't you?

        1. Necronomnomnomicon

          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

          This only works if you assume tablets can't have additional inputs accessories. Which isn't true now, and will be less true in future.

          Right now, tablets are mostly consumptive because the people building stuff are still using their desktop PCs and that's where most of the tools are. But, aside from equivalent software not existing for iOS and Android yet (and it almost certainly will come eventually), what can a desktop PC or laptop do that a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard can't?

          The model means that manufacturers can sell their cheapy tablet or their very fancy tablet, and the people who need a little bit more can pay a little bit more. Like they did when mice first came into existence. Chip away

          I'm not advocating jumping to tablet+detachable keyboard right now. But as the software arrives, it's going to be harder to maintain that position.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            I have tablets with keyboards and mice. They are univ3rsally crap. They are nowhere near as productive as a real PC. Next.

            1. Necronomnomnomicon

              Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

              "I have tablets with keyboards and mice. They are univ3rsally crap. They are nowhere near as productive as a real PC. Next."

              They're crap NOW. How much of that is because tablet software is still in it's infancy?

              A tablet is a PC with different software, a touchscreen and without a keyboard and mouse. If you add a keyboard and mouse back in then the only thing that's different is the software and a bonus input. Software improves over time if there's demand, so assuming tablets don't suddenly become hugely unpopular then the software will only get better.

              The only thing I think tablets are missing is the ability to do multiple displays like a PC. Most users don't use it, but it's marvellous.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                I don't believe software for tablets will get "better" unless they become WIMP PCs. The underlying theory of usage is just so different. Consumption based, not productivity based. In mofetn fondlefuckery keuboards and mice are fifth-class input methods. Behind grunting and rolling your penis around on the screen.

                An evolution into a productivity-based device would so fundementally alter their OS and app designs, APIs, basic rules of use, etc that they br a different class of device...the aformentionned post-post-productivity PCs that re-embreace productivity.

                We're at lrast a decade away from that. Probably two. This is not an "around the corner" evolution. Fondlecrap isn't going to magically gain proper multitasking, arbitrarily resizable, overlappable app spaces or other goodness frequently used by professional content creators.

                It's crap today. All signs point to it being even worse crap tomorrow. "It might suck less some day so IT'S THE FUTURE" convinces me of nothing. Show me proof, with today's purchasable tech, as described above. Other2wise you're blowing smoke.

                Go ask OQO about redefining the future. It's inevitable, you see.

                In3vitale.

              2. mmeier

                Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                Just use the right tablet (pc) and the units can do multi monitor. Since the last decade actually. Because - all WINDOWS tablets are at the core x86 based PC with a full powered OS. Surface/Pro, Sony Tab 11, Fujitsu Q-Series etc. - they all can drive multi monitors, many have a docking station just like a high end notebook (That they are from the hardware PoV). What they offer is an extra amount of flexibility because I can leave dock, mouse and keyboard behind and still have a useable device for conference rooms or customer meeting. Or for attending a conference and taking notes - I don't need to balance my unit on my knees ever afraid it might drop - mine is handled like an A4 college block and pen

                It's only the toy breeds from Apple or VEB Plaste and Elaste that can't do it properly. Even in the rare case ("Note series") that they have a proper inductive digitizer the support software is still a piece of shit compared to what Windows has OOTB.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                  Windows tablets have shit battery life and gave up on having a proper multitasking OS for that bullshit 8.11 for Fondlegroups "two things at a time, tops" crapfest.

                  Windows tablets are just as much post-productivity devices as iTat. Not that I'd expect a fairly proven brand tribalist like you to be capable of understanding such concepts. URG SAYS LURV MICROSOFT

                  UG, UG. MICROSOFT.

                  1. mmeier

                    Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                    Windows tablets have shit battery life and gave up on having a proper multitasking OS for that bullshit 8.11 for Fondlegroups "two things at a time, tops" crapfest.

                    Windows tablets are just as much post-productivity devices as iTat. Not that I'd expect a fairly proven brand tribalist like you to be capable of understanding such concepts. URG SAYS LURV MICROSOFT

                    UG, UG. MICROSOFT.

                    ===

                    Oh come on Mr Potts, not that STUPID AND OBVIOUS LIES! again. Thankfully it seems the Reg no longer lets you write "Articles" yet the still give you a platform to spout your "truth" that has not been true for quite some time now.

                    Thinkpad Tablet 2, Dell Lat 10 => 9+ hours

                    Surface Pro/2 => 7+ hours

                    Sony Vaio Duo 13 => 7+ hours

                    Eat that and choke on your likes Troller

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                      Oh, look, it's your bullshit made up manufacturer's numbers again. And your mistaken belief that 8ish hours is acceptable battery life. You're not only wrong, you're also a douchenozzle too!

                      And I do intend to enjoy my likes.

                      Perhaps when you're done spreading lies you can get some likes of your very own.

                      XOXOXO

                      --Trevor

                      P.S. So far as I know I published an article today on The Register. Maybe you missed it. It was about Microsoft. Snoochie Boochies.

                      1. mmeier

                        Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                        Initially this was a reply to Troller Potts. Then I realised the moron is not worth it. So I changed it

                        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                          Took you long enough, mmeier. You actually require proof to change my mind. Not assertions, claims, lies, damned lies and misinterpreted statistics. And the proof on the table is twofold:

                          1) Windows 8 is selling "like a bucket of cold sick."

                          2) Trolling you is a hilarious way for me to spend a friday after a shitty week.

                          Actually, I'll add another item: HA HA.

                          You'll never convince anyone of your marketing tripe because you're an enormously condescending douche. Even if you were peddling a cure for cancer nobody would want anything to do with it because it was associated with you. You denigrate any brand that you associate your personal sense of self-worth to by virtue of douching it up to everyone. You are, for all intents and purposes, the anti-salesman.

                          Now, I can be just as douchy, but when I do so I am typically not trying to sell someone to someone. Usually I'm unwinding after a long day/week/project/what-have-you by winding other people up. I use hyperbole and colourful metaphors to present an extreme view of something that is quite transparently grounded in truth.

                          It gets a chuckle out of those who recognize the truth. It gets a hearty belly-laugh out of those who recognize the truth in what I'm saying, the grey area around the edges of what I'm saying and enjoy the fact that I'm trolling the fanboys of $whatever_I'm_taking_the_piss_out_of. Said fanboys, however, get their panties all in a knot and provide free entertainment for the masses by being butthurt on the internet.

                          Hurray!

                          Perhaps, for you own sanity, you should consider not taking criticism of a company and products so personally. We get that you like it. You may even have Ballmer's smiling face on a Microsoft Logo background tatooed on your penis. Congratulations, I'm glad you found something to identify with.

                          But it's just a company, dude. They're just products. It's not the be-all and end-all of the fucking universe here. Microsoft fucked up this round. More to the point, they pissed off a lot of formerly loyal people. Some, like myself, used to be staunch evangelists.

                          They fucked up by not meeting our requirements. In fact, not only did they not met our requirements, they outright rejected those requirements twice in a row. Microsoft know what we want, they just don't care.

                          And they're paying the price for it right now.

                          The fact that point this out gets you all hot and bothered probably means you need some help, buddy. Serious, honest-to-gods help. I have an anxiety disorder. I know how bad it can get. You really, truly need to get your head read because your fixation with this stuff just isn't healthy.

                          Some back-and-forth on the interbutts between friends is one thing, but you're into "unhealthy obsession" territory. Disconnect. Log off. Go meet some people and realize that, at the end of the day, this is all just stuff. It's just a fucking computer. It's just some goddamned software. People will buy what meets their personal needs...why do you need to care if they buy your favourite brand? Why do other people have to change their requirements and desires to be just like yours? What is it that fuels this obsession you have with reshaping the whole world in your own image?

                          Life's too short to actually get wound over any of it, man. Chill the fuck out.

                          Peace.

                        2. hplasm Silver badge
                          Gimp

                          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                          Are you six, mmeier?

                          Jeez.

                          1. Bootman

                            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                            Well they say Windows 8 dumbs down the user...

                  2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

                    Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                    "Windows tablets [...] gave up on having a proper multitasking OS for that bullshit 8.11 for Fondlegroups "two things at a time, tops" crapfest."

                    You've clearly never actually used a Surface Pro then. See that tile that looks like desktop wallpaper? There's your WIMP GUI right there, same as it always was. Everything Windows 7 can do, Windows 8 can do too. In some instances, it even does it a bit faster. You can even get two types of cover with integrated keyboards in them. I'm writing this on a three-year-old MacBook Pro, but even I'm seriously tempted by a Windows 8 (not "RT", which is definitely too half-baked) machine. It's a solid OS that does everything Windows 7 can do. And it even has a nice, shiny, app launcher. Granted, the latter doesn't appear to be to everyone's taste, but I found the old menu system a pain to use – mice are a major cause of RSI problems in a way trackpads aren't.

                    What we're seeing isn't the death of the WIMP metaphor, but its sidelining into niche markets as the vast majority of computers these days really aren't being used for much more than email, Facetwit and web browsing.

                    I'm a mild-mannered translator by day and have found my iPad invaluable for dictionaries and reference works. In my business, that's not "consuming", it's a real, actual, bona-fide work tool. When I upgraded my old Mk. 1 to a Mk. 3 iPad, it paid for itself in just under two weeks. I haven't bought a printed book or magazine since my first iPad, in 2010, and I can't say I miss them.

                    Liam's one and only mistake with his article was in not adding "Your mileage may vary" at the end.

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                      We're not seeing a mere "sidelining" of productivity-based interfaces, but their active persecution and destruction. Microsoft have no commitment to maintaining them, or - frankly - to their professional users. The GUI in Windows 8 is totally inadequate, period. It's made even more so by the quite obvious gutting of it in order to force the world towards their preferred "new hotness" of Metro Monotasking "Fuck You Pro Users!" UI.

                      I have no problem if they want to include Metro for those who prefer to pay at their consumption devices like primitives. But gutting the productivity UI in order to do so was asinine. Failing to address the issue in subsequent revisions (to say nothing of banning productivity applications on a productivity UI from the Windows store) only demonstrated their long term goal to refuse all computing to the lowest common denominator.

                      You may enjoy slanted foreheads mewling at flat glass and wishing desperately they had something as productive as burnt sticks and a cave wall, but I do rather prefer getting shit done.

                  3. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                    iTat? Freetard prick. Might I suggest that the lack of accuracy in the keyboard is down to the PoS ripped off Samesung device you are using.

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                      iTat. I take it, anonymous coward, that your venomous reaction means you are an iTit? Or it that an iGit? Don't bother answering, I wouldn't want you to have to shake yourself out of you iStupor.

                      Don't think, just buy. iTat: for those who desperately need to be different and unique...just like everyone else.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            This only works if you assume tablets can't have additional inputs accessories

            .. which means they then become the equivalent of a laptop, so that IMHO not the right argument.

            I have a desktop, because it stays at home. I have a laptop which is either hooked up to my home kit or travels with me, and I have an iPad. The latter I use mainly to either read email (consume, not author - I 100% agree with Trevor here), quick presentations and for quickly architecting things and drawings because it's basically more useful than the Wacom tablet I have (because screen and digitiser are one). I may actually buy a pressure sensitive pen for it at some point.

            But when it comes to creating, writing, combining things - the too simple tablet UI gets in the way in the same way that the Microsoft ribbon forced me to move to LibreOffice to retain productivity. I know most of the things I need by heart and can select them at speed via the keyboard or command line, which is something you learn over time. No can do on a tablet (also because an onscreen keyboard is no touch-typing match for a physical one).

          3. bozoid

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            > what can a desktop PC or laptop do that a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard can't?

            Well, I have fifteen windows open right now. Seven of them are code (gvim), since I'm coding, three are PDFs (specifications and reference material), two are file browser (on two servers) and the rest are Web browser windows (StackOverflow et al). Each browser window has multiple open tabs. I shuffle everything around as needed to minimize eye travel and alt-tabbing to support my thought process.

            Can your tablet OS show this many things at the same time? Can you resize each if necessary to show just the bits that are relevant at a given moment? If not, I'm not interested.

            I *do* have a table, which I use for YouTube, e-reading, and e-mail. I can't imagine doing REAL coding on it.

          4. Eeep !

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            So in the future we'll have people using external keyboards, external mice, external graphics tablets, and possibly external gesture controls which all need to be lugged around to where the tablet is to be used. Hurrah - the wheel being re-invented!

            Seriously, do you not see what your idea of having add on input methods means? Making a tablet do what in the past has been the reason for having the flexability of a tablet!

            The day the phrase "sent from my ipad" stops being an excuse for bad spelling and grammar I'll accept a tablet can be practically accurate multi-input device.

            1. Captain Obvious

              Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

              No one has mentioned what I am using right now - the Dell XPS 12 with 4th core I7 CPU. This thing is a full blown netbook AND tablet. Much better than the surface pro I used at work. I can be very productive, and then fold the screen and do my consumption with the netbook in tablet mode all for around 3 pounds. No need for an extra keyboard, just a mouse or touch. Mouse for productivity and touch for consuming. iPad no longer gets used here except by the kids for some games. This blows the kindle away as I can have more reading area or view two pages like a real book. Backlit keyboard, instant on, etc all works fantastic. Can even boot up faster than the iPad from complete shutdown.

              For US people, Costco has the FULLY decked out version for $1199 with all options and max memory. Only thing it lacks is good video as it uses the Intel 4400 for video. PC's will also never die as they make great game machines with more flexibility than the XBOX/PS4/whatever. Will be interesting to see how well the steam machines fair this Christmas. Let us be honest: with the exception of the Dell XPS 12, laptops/PC's for productivity and tablets for consuming.

              Tim

        2. N2 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

          Well said Sir,

          My ordinateur will be eight years old soon & replacing would have no affect on quality or how quickly I work.

        3. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

          "Now, how long does it take the average individual to create finished works of equal quality based on devices of each input paradigm?"

          Agreement here: stupid article is stupid. The failure with the mainframe -> mini -> PC -. slab analogy is that each previous generation made it possible for users to do more stuff for less money.

          Slabs make it possible to do less stuff for less money. And the storage is remote. So it's basically another take on the thin client idea, which has been around forever, and is always a poor substitute for real computing, unless you have very limited needs.

          As for PC sales being down. Well duh - that's because Win 8 killed them. Too many users at all levels looked at Win 8 and said 'What the fucking fuck? - I'll consider an upgrade when you give me a proper OS."

          Now - what will happen is Ballmer's replacement is suddenly going to rediscover the desktop/professional market, and Win 9 will include a choice of UIs. Or - more likely - will be available in a pro version for content creators that costs twice as much as consumer windows. And massively multicore PCs will become pro-only machines, priced accordingly.

          This is all bad. The brilliant thing about the PC was that it gave users decent general-purpose power at an affordable price. Splitting the market into consumertron slabs and 'real' PCs for professionals will kill a lot of innovation, because a lot of excellent and popular PC/Mac software and content relies on motivated developers taking advantage of low cost of entry. If the cost of entry goes up - goodbye.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            New tools rarely replace old tools outright. Since buying electric drills and screwdrivers I have not thrown away my hammers, or manual screwdrivers, nor will I. I use tablets (just got an ASUS Transformer Pad cheaply, like the hybrid set-up) and like them for browsing, but I still use my laptop and desktop machines (writing articles and coding), and when I need more serious grunt (Gigapixel images) a 64 core compute server, and when I want to play with the big boys with big data: clusters or supercomputers. I use WIMP or touch as needed, but very often still use the command line. As new tools are added to the toolbox, we gain flexibility. Do most users need the command line? I would not think so. Do I see my students use the command line? Not as much as I do, but they still revert to it for certain types of work.

            I love using editors, or word processors, but boy am I glad I still have pen, pencil and paper.

            I might also suggest PC sales are going down because many people have PCs that work just fine, and are in no hurry to upgrade.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

              Amen, Trevor! Hipster twits like the author are all so immersed in their little worlds that they cannot see that there are other ways of doing things, and that "new" isn't always "better". The tablet is a tool for a particular corner of the computing world - and may have some advantages over other methods - but it isn't likely to take over from the current way of doing things any time soon. At the very least, there will be a significant number of people who want native programs and significant on-device storage.

              @TheOtherHobbes - I like the idea of tablets as thin clients. Good analogy!

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                Liam's an opensorcerer, not a hipster twit.

                The commenters may be hipsters. I'm convinced Liam was just trolling.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                  And Trevor, by your very name-calling and pigeon-holing it's clear that you are just a common-or-garden loud mouthed opinionated dick.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                    Oh, and Anonymous Coward

                    A) Yes, I'm a loud-mouthed opinionated dick.

                    B) It's not pigeon holing when I set out specific criteria as well as what is required to change my opinion on the topic. It's a valid complaint with a detailed analysis.

                    C) You obviously missed the two separate posts in which I stated pretty clearly I was trolling people. Honestly, how to achieve critical cognition with a forehead that slants so sharply?

                    D) You have yet to actually prove me wrong at anything, you've basically just whined about how unfair it is that people upvote someone who is making fun of the pit of electronic tat you've attached your self-worth to. Boo-hoo-hoo. Cry me a fucking river.

                    E) Proof not promises is what the people here quite obviously demand. Maybe it's because we're old enough to have finished high school and moved out of our parents' basements. We've seen trends come and trends go and we don't jump on just any old bandwagon. What's on the table has to be demonstrably better than what we have now before we give fucks.

                    And last, but certainly not least...

                    F) why do you care so much? So there are a (significant, by percentage) group of people who feel that they don't want to be early adopters of a new technology and will wait for that technology to more than prove itself before they change their existing, working, profitable workflows over to a new class of device. Why does this bother you so much? What compelled you to align your self worth with a bit of technology? You should get some help, buddy. Serious, honest-to-gods help. You'll feel better about yourself after you do.

            2. Chemist

              Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

              "a 64 core compute server, and when I want to play with the big boys with big data: clusters or supercomputers. I use WIMP or touch as needed, but very often still use the command line."

              Ditto. Even at home I often transcode or render video by switching it to my file-server to run 'off-peak' - slow but steady.

          2. N2 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            @ TheOtherHobbes - Good post.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

          "Prove me wrong."

          Calm down Trevor. And do a little bit of growing up while you wipe the froth away. Novel have/are being written. It's early days in the device life to be producing great 3D works like Toy Story, but there is little reason why it cannot be done. Just because you clearly lack the imagination to do anything of this kind, doesn't mean it isn't possible. Both Autodesk and Adobe, among others, are producing some producing amazing apps that do help creative individuals produce amazing work. Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop being prime examples of tablet apps that have a lot of grunt. Garage band can be used to put together demos or complete song should you wish. And things are only going to get better. Both the following are free and can be used to make stopframe animations;

          https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/stop-motion-studio/id441651297?mt=8

          https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/smoovie-stop-motion-animation/id424224789?mt=8

          And Sculpt 123 is a pretty decent modelling app;

          https://itunes.apple.com/app/123d-sculpt/id446119510?mt=8

          To make an asinine and sweeping statment like you have and then get all fucking arsey when someone calls you on it if childish. The lack of forsight from you and the idiots that up vote you show you for what you are curmudgeonly dinosaurs that lack the foresight to see beyond what is in front of them.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            Have you used any of that software, oh brave Anonymous Coward? I have. It's shit. Talking up Adobe finger paints as somehow equivalent to a precision-pointer-driven interface does nothing but demonstrate that you haven't clue one about the topic.

            What's more, even if you can write such amazingly complex and wonderful software that it somehow makes up for the imprecision of the input methodology, you still haven't dealt with the fact that A) Touch controls by nature obscure a significant chunk of the screen and B) no touch-based OS has demonstrated any interest whatsoever in providing a proper multitasking environment. (The Wind River modification to Android put to one side for now, that is mostly used to make Android desktops, not fondlestroke padlets.)

            Let's say you add enough toys to a fondleslab to support a multitasking environment. You also redesign the OS to cope with the fact that a significant chunk of the world isn't wired for search/voice as an input methodology (and no, that's not a "choice", that's actual genetics that dictate how our brains work.) Then you add support for a set of precision pointers, keyboard, multiple monitors, etc. Why do you have?

            A PC.

            The only way to make a tablet into a productivity device is to reinvent the PC. (Or do something dramatically different like combine it with a neural impulse actuator.)

            I can see how some people flirt close to the idea of turning a tablet into a PC, but they never quite do. You see, if they did so then nobody would need two devices. Also, they wouldn't need to keep buying new tablets every year, because they'd have one device that did everything they want. So nobody is going to actually make a productivity-based tablet. It's not good business.

            You'll also note - actually scratch that, I doubt you have 12 functional brain cells to rub together, you probably weren't able to notice the bolded letters - that I said "how long does it take the average individual to create finished works of equal quality based on devices of each input paradigm?"

            The ability to suck out loud, but do it on your shiny bit of personal self-worth - now available in diamond, if you are feeling particularly genitalialy inadequate - is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is productivity. Productivity = profit. The device is either superior at the productivity tasks in question or it is not.

            I will not debate the superiority of tablets for portability or for consumption of media. They aren't, however, productivity devices. They may have apps that allow you to (badly) approximate productivity tasks, but you must do so with no appreciable multitasking ability and in every case I've seen so far you have to choose to sacrifice either quality or speed compared to a real computer.

            I think the reason people are upvoting me here is that they understand the above. They don't feel the need to attach themselves to the "new" and "shiny" in order to feel like they have a sense of meaning in their life. They care about getting shit done and then charging someone for it so that they can go on and do the things they care about.

            If what you care about is pretending that tablets can be used for productivity, go hard. But that's a hobby, that's not professional creative endeavours. It doesn't pay the bills; only edge cases are going to be able to pay the bills using a monotasking fondlewidget.

            So I return to my previous statement prove me wrong. Show a range of creative activities in which tablets can produce equal or superior quality works faster than we can with PC.

            You'll excuse me if I don't wait around for you to do so. I've actual work to do.

    2. sandman

      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

      Too right, as I sit here with two high end laptops and three screens, creating interactive lessons, editing audio and video, I wonder how easy it would be to do on a slab. No, really, I don't :-) I've been knocking out stuff for people to consume for a couple of decades (or so). It doesn't really matter what on, dead trees, no problem, big screens, got that covered, slabs and phones, hell yes.

      I'm not sure that it will be possible in the near future to do all this via a slab using cloud/server-based software and storage, there's a little too much latency and unreliability involved for my taste. I believe (so will probably be wrong given my prognostication record) that there will still be a market for desktops/laptops, just a much smaller and more professional one.

      Basically, consumers and many professions don't need the traditional computer, as they don't actually "compute" - we still do.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

        Did I say cloid apps can't be productive? Where? I just made a video using goanimate.com. The past two days of my life have ben spent being productive in the cloud.

        My issue was with the inpit methods. Precision pointers and keyboards are critical for making quality work in a reasonabke timeframe.

        You CAN create on a fondleslab. It just takes 10x as long. Maybe in the future we'll have apps that make up for the inherant assness of the input type. We don't current have such tools today, nor any real hope of them in the near future. What we have instead is 6 years of touch being useful for nothing more than consumption and no notable forward motion beyond marketing and broken promises.

        Want to convince me touch and voice are good enough to go toe to toe with the keyboard, stlyus and mouse? I've laid out above what's required. Repeated assertions won't change my mind. Anecdotes mean nothing. Only concrete scientific evidence that has been reproduced and addresses the diversity of human thought and perception will change my mind. That is what it takes to alter a lifetime of personal experirnce, decades of professional experience and years of dedicated research into the topic (which I have done.)

        Whrere the app lives is a separate argument. How we use the damned thing is all that I was addressing. As for convincing me of the wonders of touch...

        ...proof.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

          @Trevor_Pott

          It is evening here (early morning where you are?), and I am tired, so I don't know if you are taking the piss or not. One of your worst spelt posts, perhaps you did it on a tablet? :-)

          If there are any mistakes in my post, I wrote it on an iPad Air...

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

            It was typed from my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 while in bed. I'm unable to sleep (anxiety) and thus trolling the interbutts.

            I can type 100 WPM on this thing. It's just not all that accurate. I always have to take anything I try to "create" on fondleslabs to a real PC for post-processing. But hey, the downvoters think I'm fulla shit, so obviously I'm just holding it wrong.

            Oh well.

            1. Mark 110

              Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

              Get Swiftkey - its quite difficult to make spelling mistakes with it and might up your wpm :-)

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

                Swiftkey and I still haven't figured out how to work together. I am trying, but it's still very tough going.

    3. mmiied

      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

      the point is most users will use touch. USERS

      people doing the work will stay with interfaces that let them work but consumers will move to touch and leave WIMP as the niche for those of us that need it. the same way that when I want to really use my server or delve inot network dignostic tasks I use cmd or now powershell but users use windows. in the future users will use touch and artists and developers will have developer machines that have mouses and touch pads and they will get the same look Users give me when I open cmd prompts

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

        And my point was "I don't care about consumers." Content creaters are users too.

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

      I am not ready for a post-productivity input paradigm. I am too old and set in my ways to make the jump. Touch is a consumptive design method. I can't think of myself as "just another consumer." So I'll keep keyboards and precision pointers around. I'll use old tech if I have to. I'll even exit IT and look for a new career as a writer.

      You are irrelevant and these machines are not for you, in the same ways as automotive car programming tools cannot be found in the standard home.

      "BUT I AM A TECHIE"

      Yeah so what.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

        I said nothing about being "a techie." I said "I'm a content creator." Far bigger group.

        But yeah, yiu knwo what, you're right. It's okay to just write off hundreds of millions of peoplle around the world. Fuck those guys and their not liking touch.

        Hipsters forever. Amen.

    5. BigAndos

      Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

      +1 from me! I love my tablet for reading ebooks, surfing the web, watching a video or playing the odd game. All consumptive as you say. At work I'm got a windows 7 laptop docked to dual monitors and a full size keyboard and mouse. I'm a data architect and so regularly write code, compare data between multiple sources, produce data models, write documents etc etc. I can't imagine a more productive setup for me than the one I have now, at least until direct brain connections are on the market!

    6. Mikel

      Desktop PCs maxed out at 8 cores over a year ago

      No further progress is planned, as that is plenty good enough for desktop use and more would compete for server chips. 8 core chip, $200.

      True 8-core fondleslabs (not that embarassing Exynos Octa) are on the way for next year, so both seem to have arrived at the same "good enough" in the same epoch.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take the point, but it is still dependent on a reliable internet connection. For anyone who can't afford an second internet line onto their premises, it's going to be a key SPOF.

  4. Richard Read

    Consumer vision

    You are absolutely right ... for consumers and other lightweight users. However for business users who need to do actual work I don't see mouse/keyboard/multiple monitors going away. If you plug all that extra stuff into a tablet then it becomes a desktop.

    I work in IT and I regularly use all the power that my desktop has and need more, I have 3 monitors and could use more. I create documents that run into tens of pages and write code, I wouldn't want to do that on a virtual keyboard (and don't even go into the issues of voice input in an open plan office).

    As for the cloud, call me again when none of the major cloud providers have had an unscheduled outage for a year and reliable, unmetered data connections are everywhere. Microsoft even had an outage on Xbox One launch day for heavens sake.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Amen to that

      I absolutely agree.

      Fondleslabs for time-wasting (YouTube viewing, Twittering and Facebook updating). I'm sure billions will do nothing but that.

      Proper PCs with a working UI for actual work. And high-level gaming. There's only a few hundred million of people doing that, but that is still one heck of a market.

      And don't get me started on the cloud...

    2. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Consumer vision

      Maybe you are not seeing the bigger picture here. You and me are a small part of a minority of the 2bn people who already have a computer (or several). We are essentially a static market and only a disruptive product or replacements generates profits. The article is looking at the next big growth area of the 5bn who don't. They need technology as well, but it has to be affordable etc. That new (growing) market will drive changes in the existing one.

      Keep your multiple monitors, as Trevor says there will always be a place for specialist kit, just not used by the majority.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Consumer vision

        I don't dispute that fondleslabs will be big.

        I absolutely do dispute that they will "kill" the desktop.

        Fondleslabs aren't a replacement for the PC. They're a replacement for the television and print media. Content consumption. Not creation.

        Where I get uppity is the suggestion that "an established market" such as "professionals who need professional tools" is somehow going to disappear in a puff of fondlefucking. It won't...and the companies who abandon the professional in favour of chasing Sally Slanted Forehead will be pissing away a huge market - and margin - even if it is a static market.

        Fondlespanking devices of all flavours are an and not an or unless you happen to be very, very poor. In which case - and pardon the bigotry for a pragmatic moment - who gives a fuck? Poor people are getting poorer. Rich are getting richer. The wealth gap is widening, not shrinking. So the money is at the top, not in a race to the bottom.

        Despite not wanting to rub myself all over some glass and orgasm loudly to the brand name du jour I still do belong to a cohort of individuals whose money is valuable, even desired.

        Imagine that. Or is an app required to do so? I don't know how it works these days...

    3. MattEvansC3

      Re: Consumer vision

      How powerful does your PC need to be able to that though? If we move away from the iPad which can only really be considered a consumer device there are an ever increasing number of tablets coming out with HDMI and USB sockets, Bluetooth etc, especially the Win8 tablets like the Asus T100. These tablets have more than enough power to handle most end user requirements and the connections to make it a terminal.

      Thats one possible direction the market could take, instead of PCs at your desk there's a docking station connected to the monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and network and you just dock your tablet in, that tablet is then taken with you if you need to hotdesk or work out of the office.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Consumer vision

        The problem with the hotdeskitng tablet idea is that gets you into a fundamentally new paradigm of device. That's not a tablet. Tablet's are monotasking, consumer-driven with interfaces that are great big fat touch targets with terrible screen real estate usage. They are optimized for consumption with no thoughts given over to productivity.

        How do you use a mouse with an operating system that refuses to recognize the mouse, treat it as a first class input device if it does recognize it, or not speak to a significant number of features (such as more than one mouse button) in the very rare instances an App is aware that more than fondlebuggery exists?

        What you are trying to describe is what Windows 8 should have been but wasn't and likely never will be. An operating system - and applications - that work in portable, fondlestroking mode and in a stable, precision, multitasking productivity mode.

        Nobody is interested in building that. That takes innovation, resources and a lot of effort. It requires two full UIs. Not just for the OS, but for every app!

        Creatives and the productivity minded just aren't a big enough market to continue supporting in the mind of people who chase "growth" over actual revenue. So they get shafted. It will be a decade - probably more - before that pendulum swings 'round again. When it does, we'll be talking about post-tablet devices.

        A tablet with a keyboard and mouse is as like a 500 button universal remote for a television with one channel...and so far the only effort to build a digital multitool gave us Windows 8: the spork of the new millenium.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Consumer vision

          A Trevor the Troll is at it again.

          Remind me to tell Lenovo, Sony, Fujitsu,... that the units they offer for sale actually do not exist because "nobody will build them". Strangely their shops insist I can buy those units.

          And they are multi-tasking systems that can be docked or used as a tablet pc. Touch/Pen/Keyboard/Voice - you want it, they support it. Out of the box.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Consumer vision

            Go to the store, download an application for the deprecated multitasking UI. What's that, can't do it? Monotasking fisher-price bullshit apps only? Where's the hierarchical application list that allows you to have something else on the screen to help guide your selection when choosing an application? Where's the ability to run all applications in multiple overlapping and arbitrarily sized workspaces?

            Funny, seems to me to make 8.11 for fondlegroups actually productive you need to use third-party tools. Otherwise all you have is a television. It can display one goddamned thing at a time, no matter how many buttons are on your remote control.

            Microsoft have utterly abandoned the desktop. They've zero commitment to it and Windows 8 is less functional and productive than Windows 7 was. It's a consumption OS. Pure and simple.

            Hardware does not a transformable system make. Your OS and the applications need to work well both in fondle mode and in productivity mode. And no, "full screen-grabbing, one-maybe-two-things-at-a-time, context switching, search-crutch-dominated" fuckery is not "working well" in productivity mode.

            Microsoft have made it clear that Metro and Metro apps are the only future they give any fucks about whatsoever. That, however, isn't creating a productivity-friendly OS or app ecosystem. It's a consumptive one, no matter how they - or fanmonds like yourself - try desperately to convince the world otherwise.

            It is of interest to me, however, that you have a bizzare compulsion for others to accept Microsoft's piety and technical "superiority" in order to quell your inner demons. Why do you tie your self worth to a company?

            I have no such loyalty - except to Ninite - and never will.

            Productivity = profit. Anything that gets in the way of productivity is out the door. Anything that can prove it can do better than what I already have will be eagerly used.

            --Typed on my Lenovo X230. Bought in June because it came with Windows 7.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer vision

      I have 4 monitors attached to my work PC and often 12 apps open with multiple instances of many and in the multiple instances of the two different browsers I use many tabs in use on each. The only thing I'd like at work is larger monitors so that I could have eight apps opened side by side, and the print be large enough for me to read it.

      My eyesight not being what it once was is one of the pitfalls of aging, in my case.

  5. Alex Rose
    FAIL

    Fallacious argument

    "The word "intuitive" gets egregiously overused in computing, but touch interfaces are a step forwards. Don't believe me? Just watch a video of an infant playing with an iPad and their bafflement when tapping and swiping doesn't work on dead-tree media."

    The problem with this argument is that what you are actually saying is "When we teach a baby that the world works one way and then provide them with a version of the world that doesn't work the way they get confused." Nothing more, nothing less. To claim that teaching a baby that flat pictures are interactive so that they get confused when you provide them with a non-interactive flat picture is a sign that touch is somehow the natural order and therefore "intuitive" is lazy and fallacious thinking.

    Many people used the same video to claim that it showed iPads were the natural way of working because after using one babies try to swipe static images - these people have clearly never had children or spent time around babies. Babies touch, feel, lick, suck and generally paw at their environment whether they've had a go on a touch screen or not. It's how they bloody well learn about the world!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Fallacious argument

      You can't use logic in these arguments. Brand Tribalism will trump any attempt at rational arguments.

      -- Sent from Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

      1. Alex Rose
        Happy

        Re: Fallacious argument

        Thanks for the reminder Trevor. I forgot I was on El Reg's comments section for a second there!

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Fallacious argument

      The problem with this argument is...

      There is no problem with the argument. You are off mass shell.

      If you give an infant a fondleslap that says

      COMMODORE BASIC V7.0 122365 BYTES FREE<br>

      (C)1985 COMMODORE ELECTRONICS, LTD.<br>

      (C)1977 MICROSOFT CORP.<br>

      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED<br>

      and then just dumbly blinks at it, it will throw into the corner.

      That's what "intuitive" means. You can use without opening the manual. In this case, you can even use it by just relying on a little bit of hard-coded knowledge in the eye-hand-brain system. That's pretty good.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: If you give an infant a fondleslap

        You do that in front of me and I'm calling the cops.

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Fallacious argument

      The problem with this argument is that what you are actually saying is "When we teach a baby that the world works one way and then provide them with a version of the world that doesn't work the way they get confused."

      As I follow the argument, it's that babies don't need to be taught a touch interface because they do explore the world through touch and naturally form inferences about how it works. This extends to touch screens. (Does touch work with a tongue?)

      As DAM says, all other systems requiring "training". They may well be superior in many ways, but that superiority comes at a price.

      --Typed on a real bloody keyboard.

      1. David Webb

        Re: Fallacious argument

        (Does touch work with a tongue?)

        Yes, now excuse me I need to vomit.

      2. Alex Rose
        Stop

        Re: Fallacious argument

        Read what I said again. The argument being put forward hinges on this sentence "Just watch a video of an infant playing with an iPad and their bafflement when tapping and swiping doesn't work on dead-tree media"

        The claim is that touch is intuitive because a baby taught that flat images respond to touch gets confused when then presented with flat images that do not respond to touch. I say that this doesn't say anything about whether touch is intuitive or not. Merely that when you teach a baby one thing it gets confused when you then present it with a case that opposes what they have learned.

        Both yourself and Destroy All Monsters have somehow confused me taking issue with the argument that the video shown shows that touch is inherently intuitive to somehow mean that I don't think touch is intuitive. Read my post again and you'll see I made no such statement. I've said nothing about whether I think touch is intuitive or not.

        In the words of the dear departed Eadon:

        REG COMMENT SECTION READING COMPREHENSION FAIL!!!1!one!

        (that last bit tongue-in-cheek before you get too offended guys)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fallacious argument

      And a book won't give you an electric shock when you slobber over it.

    5. Bootman

      Re: Fallacious argument

      Perhaps all those people saying "well a baby can use a touch screen" or "a 3 year old can use Windows 8", should put their money where their mouths are, and get infants to work for them...

      As for tablets being better than desktops for everything, my TV incidentally is better for content consumption than my desktop too, maybe the tablet mafia would like to start writing Excel macros using a telly remote control, as after all it is a perfectly decent way to navigate said device.

  6. ColonelClaw

    I'm a middle-aged guy who's been using computers in the form of a keyboard connected to a box connected to a screen since I was 9 years old or so. In other words I'm your typical geek bloke.

    I was given an iPad for my birthday about a year and a half ago. In that time, well, more like in the first 3 months, it almost completely replaced my 2 desktop machines at home.

    The only thing I use my computers for now is big-screen gaming and 'downloads'.

    When the iPad launched, like many, I scratched my head and thought "who the hell is that designed for?". Now I know. Like it or not it's a hell of a disruptive technology

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Yet my experience is the opposite: I have much the same experience and age, but the Nexus 7 I bought mostly gathers dust.

      I've written a book over the last couple of months. I used a DSLR camera to take the required pictures (about 90 in the final book) and I typed in all the words on a keyboard. I used photo software to change the images. I used a proper typesetting program to put things in the right order and laid out properly. I used a laptop with a couple of internal drives and an extra external screen to keep an eye on what I was doing.

      I never even *thought* of reaching for the Nexus to do it.

      And the book is paper, too.

      1. mmeier

        So you bought the wrong tablet. That's all.

        I use LaTeX on my tablet pc if I need to set lengthy text. Than mostly coupled with a BT keyboard also in a pinch pen input works. If I write drafts / take notes I do this with a pen in Journal or OneNote. Annotate lengthy Word documents or PowerPoints. And the T-Series convertible is, when docked, my primary workstation (M-Series CPU and 16GB, all that with 7+h on battery)

        The end product will be an electronic format. 12+ inch tablet pc or tilt-able monitors for reading save useless waste of paper.

    2. Efros

      Similar type of person totally different experience. I've had a tablet for about 4 years now, it is used for reading, playing games, casual pre snoozing browsing, and that really is it. For anything requiring extensive use of a keyboard, I dig out my laptop at home or get my backside in front of a desktop. Tablets are just no use to me for productive work, wonderful for wasting time and for leisure though.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Didn't happen here. I bought one because I need to test things work on an iPad too, and although I found it useful for quickly sketching ideas, to me it's more about consuming content than creating so the laptop is certainly not threatened. It's a good tool to create a platform for a sales person to take an order. It can present, and it has enough input to take small amounts of data but the relation is asymmetric - LOTS more data is presented than is accepted, and that works.

      I think this is key to the debate: we're debating a universal statement whereas its validity really depends on your use.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    The feel when...

    That Kids Can't Use Computers... article is fscking epic stuff. I now feel both old and sad.

    Stop fixing things for your kids. You spend hours of your time potty-training them when they’re in their infancy, because being able to use the toilet is pretty much an essential skill in modern society. You need to do the same with technology. Buy them a computer by all means, but if it goes wrong, get them to fix it. Buy them a smartphone, give them £10 of app store credit a year and let them learn why in-app-purchases are a bad idea. When we teach kids to ride a bike, at some point we have to take the training wheels off. Here’s an idea. When they hit eleven, give them a plaintext file with ten-thousand WPA2 keys and tell them that the real one is in there somewhere. See how quickly they discover Python or Bash then.

    Yes.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: The feel when...

      Good stuff. I started teaching my 9yo touch typing, and he's loving it. Of course touch typing is just the beginning.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The feel when...

        that's good to hear, my oldest will be nine soon, and I was wondering when it might be time to start that

  8. Baron Ebaneezer Wanktrollop III

    PC Fail

    PC's have failed because of MS Windows. The act of rolling NT and Windows 98 into one OS has effectively killed them off because unlike a tablet, the OS is too difficult to learn for newbies because it has not been solely designed for the Home market. Add to that the continual virus problem which doesn't plague iPads and Android and it's clear why they are losing ground.

    Microsofts late to the party answer to combat this was to release the most humungous turdnova ever seen since The Britass Empire - Vtech 8.1.

    How long will it be until we must have an Xbox Live membership before we can remotely connect to an RDP server?

  9. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Intimated"?

    ITYM "Intimidated", unless you are trying to intimate something different...

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Microsoft: dead as disco

    Microsoft is looking at the future while being utterly incapable of running two production lines of a consumer-grade OS, one for the old bum doing his work on the PC and one for the rest of the population that wants to play around with cat videos and show off their mating prowess (no, the delta between "Standard", "Pro", "Ultra" and "Extra Retarded" does not count).

    They are toast.

  11. tempemeaty

    Because the PC is dying?

    I don't buy it. Any PC dying, it seems to me, is directly due to the combination of both the economy and MS sabotaging the PC with Windows 8. Just my 2 cents.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Because the PC is dying?

      It is mostly due to the fact that everyone has a PC now, and they buy a new PC when the old one breaks rather than to get the latest shiny.

      Give me a list of things you can do on a Windows 8.1 PC that you can't do on a Windows XP PC. There isn't really anything. Windows XP lets you read things on the web, communicate via email and Skype, play games, run Word, Excel and Powerpoint, run accounts software, run photoshop or other photo editing software, run your line of business applications. Basically it does everything people want a PC to do, so getting a new PC is like getting a new washing machine.

      1. Bootman

        Re: Because the PC is dying?

        Good point, after racking my brains the only things that *may* have any relevence to consumers off the top of my head...

        1) Run some games.

        2) Run Metro "apps" (well Microsoft thinks they are relevent anyway)

        The first is dealt with by installing Windows 7 (or even Vista for that matter), and a serious PC gamer is most likely using 7 anyway, and most people have consoles. As for the second, a Muttley laugh is the only appropriate response.

      2. hungee

        Re: Because the PC is dying?

        For me, (on my 2 yr old mid-range laptop with 8.1) it is the ability to switch between contexts. So if I am creating multimedia I can use desktop. If I want to watch a movie or fb I can use modern apps. Both are different but good at their different usages. Modern apps tend to be a little smoother.

        PS. 8.1s biggest achievement over 8.0 was making it more seamless between contexts. (So I believe... You don't have to believe though)

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Because the PC is dying?

          Not sure about context, maybe because I'm a Luddite, but Media Centre takes care of all my media playback and Steam takes care of my games, so I don't really see a compelling reason to move away from Win7.

          Of course, YMMV

  12. Christopher Reeve's Horse
    Meh

    Wrong.

    Fondle slabs are just 'another device' not a replacement for all computers.

    I agree that slabs/phone are better for content delivery and causal surfing etc. There're simply more convenient and powerful. For instance, my win 7 laptop has got bluetooth, but do you think I can get it to simply connect to a pair of bluetooth speakers? Not a chance. But from my android phone it's just two swipes.

    However... I work in a business where there are hundreds of people constantly using excel to manipulate and model data, and that's not by any means unusual. Ever tried handing a 50mb complex spreadsheet model on a tablet, or coding VBA? No, you haven't, and you wouldn't.

    The article has answered itself, but I'm not sure you realize. You base all future use on current sales, not current useage. PC's have simply become so good that they don't currently need to be replaced, whereas everyone wants to get a shiny new tablet to play with. These devices will replace some of the functionality of PC's, but just can't replace them altogether.

  13. Natalie Gritpants

    > Only serious weirdos eschew GUIs today.

    Bless you, hope the cold gets better.

    And thanks for the idea, I'm getting "serious weirdo" put on my CV.

  14. Kristian Walsh

    "... and Chromebooks?"

    Really?

    There's a lot of bluff about Chromebooks, but channel sales surveys put their cumulative (i.e, since launch in 2011) sales comfortably below a million units. After two years on the market, it's telling that Google have yet to announce either sales or users figures for ChomeOS, especially when you consider how they played up Android activations when that platfrom was taking off.

    Android is ChromeOS's biggest problem: you can get a good Android tablet with hundreds of thousands of available apps for the same price as a Chromebook. Why would you bother?

    Independently-sourced usage figures are interesting for Chromebooks in that sales of the hardware does not convert into measured usage of ChromeOS. Either people are trying them briefly and then abandoning or returning them, or, as I think is more likely, people in the know are buying the Chromebook hardware and putting Linux on it right away. Either way, it's not a sign of a rosy future for the platform.

    1. A Butler

      Re: "... and Chromebooks?"

      In a nutshell Chromebooks are crap.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "... and Chromebooks?"

      I bought one to put Linux on, because the bang for the buck made it obvious I wasn't paying the Microsoft tax.

      The Linux replacement is on hold because, actually, Chrome OS is surprisingly fit for purpose. I don't like tablets because none of them have adequate keyboards; the keyboard on the Samsung 5-550 is excellent, as is the touchpad. On my "proper" laptop I disable the touchpad and use the mouse (and in Win 8, at that) whereas on the Chromebook the integration of the touchpad is really rather good, as is the precision.

      It's an interesting experiment and I think it is much too early to call it a failure. (if Google would like to supply me with a Pixel for more in-depth endorsement evaluation, feel free guys)

  15. A Butler

    Decent though provoking article.

    Its a decent thought provoking article. Cheap tablets in the 3rd world will only work with availability of reliable internet access. Currently they do not have even reliable power never mind internet.

    This is where Microsoft deserves some credit the Surface RT is the best offline, laptop replacing tablet, of course its to dear however that can be addressed. Also all the dirty big servers supplying the tablet information; here Microsoft is still the biggest stake holder.

    I do not buy that Microsoft is out of the game and all is lost; remember Microsoft has history on its side. Change is a coming no doubt about that....

  16. Stretch

    "PCs have simply become so good that they don't currently need to be replaced"

    I agree with your general point if not the exact reason. The hardware has progressed to the point that the software most of us use doesn't force an upgrade quite so often.

    Apart from us gamers that is. There's always more triangles.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: "PCs have simply become so good that they don't currently need to be replaced"

      If you look at PCs 10, or even 5 years ago, every new processor was a game changer. New versions of Windows (let's face it, despite the Linux & Apple crews' shouting, Windows accounts for probably 95%+ of the desktop market) pretty much appeared on people's desktops because that was what was installed by default, but the compelling reason to upgrade was the hardware.

      But the general user runs a browser, maybe Skype, possibly MS Office, a home accounts package and some games. For those users the PC they got 3 years ago still does the trick, so why upgrade? Businesses reached the point of 'Why change if it's adequate for purpose?' around the time of XP, so again no compelling reason to upgrade. Dual Core? Quad Core? Multi Gb of memory? These are not game changers, just the facility to do the same as the old one but maybe a bit faster.

      Fondleslabs are at that 90s PC stage now. each new iteration gives faster processing, updated OS (especially with Android where the OS/GUI is as much fashion statement as necessity) and can be marketed as a gamechanger. And of course they have the pricepoint of a toy, so replacing/upgrading is almost a no brainer.

      But you're right, my gaming PC is lucky to go 6 months without adding graphics cards, cooling systems, more RAM, more disc. But that's cos gamers have taken over from the hobbyists in the PC world. We're the equivalent of the modern petrolhead.

      Most people buy a new car and keep it until they need a replacement. 'The 2014 model is out' isn't a compelling reason to replace it, and it does what it said on the tin, so there's no need to fiddle with it.

      petrolheads and gamers buy their shiny with the intention of keeping it going as long as it's 'the Best', tinkering every weekend and evening to keep it 'The Best' and dumping it faster than a boomerang curry when it can no longer compete with the other best, no matter how many new goodies you stuff into it.

      Phew. long rant there. Time for a liedown

  17. bigfoot780

    Windows 8 is going down like a bucket of cold sick

    That opening line is awesome.

  18. Nya

    Bollocks!

    Oh fondleslabs will replace desktops...utter bollocks! While the marketing types out front might end up holding a tablet to sell something to look modern and fashionable to the punters, the grunt work, all those 10's, 100's, 1000's of thousands of entries which need entering into ass backwards software like Sage and the like will need someone chained to a desk with a keyboard and mouse typing away.

    So PC (and I'm using this as a whole desktop/laptop/Windows/MacOS/Linux/whatever as a proper PERSONAL COMPUTER not a load of marketing spiel) sales have dropped, and tablets are increasing? And so what? It’s a different tool for a different job. Yes big companies like HP and the like are listening far to much to ANALysts and not to customers, or they might realise what the punters are doing. The PC, the venerable old bit of kit chugging away with its 6 year old C2D in it, is still "fast enough" and is going to remain chugging away until it either dies (and gets replaced) or the company gets more staff. Why do companies need to replace them on a 3 year cycle like they used to? because during the penny pinching times they realised they don't need to. New kit just means added hassle with down time and grief of getting staff to learn everything all over. Replacing a few machines at a time and yes you have to subject a couple of members of staff, or better still the new fellow to it but all is fine for most users and it keeps the grief down a bit.

    Ok, I mention "good old" Sage here, but the same goes for many jobs, DTP, CAD, and even normal word processing for a company. A touch screen, and word processing?! Fine maybe for fast notes, but for all day banging out letters and things. The RSI brigade will have you lynched for it.

    Is the PC dead? No. Has it evolved into that device which is only replaced as and when needed? Yes! Are tablets etc "good enough" for the home user online? Probably.

  19. Matt_payne666

    touch screens all the way... much more intuitive and accurate for all tasks... lets fire up solidworks - take manipulating a complex 3D object, would I rather use a 3D controller and have natural access to 3 axis of movement? with modifiers at the end of my fingertips? or a glass slab with no tactile clues?

    for basic selection of jumbo buttons, yes, stabbing a screen is fast... but there is life left in dials, buttons, mice, stylus, 3d mice and various other input methods...

    Learn to live with win8... even with a non touch device locating and selecting an application is faster for me than with the legacy start menu... the icons are large enough that muscle memory will guide my pointer to my most used applications much faster than the fine motor skills needed to start clicking and hovering and clicking in the old way

    1. Bootman

      "Learn to live with win8..."

      No.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        +1 bootman

        Also, who the fnord are you to tell me what I must learn to live with? Hmmm?

  20. carlos_c

    puzzled

    I really don't understand some of the commentators here - I have a client who has a team of surveyors - they are equipped with hp elite pads running windows 8- they are nice and light to carry - they can easily be held with one hand whilst on site, they support pen input so you can write notes - have a camera so you can snap the odd piccie to illustrate something they see, back at the office the pads sit in a docking station and they use mouse, keyboard and big screen.

    The users really appreciate them...lets them get on with their work and funnily enough no -one has complained about lack of a start menu

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: puzzled

      I think you are missing the point of the article, and the comments. No-one is saying that there isn't some useful stuff that a tablet can do better than a desk/lap-top. There clearly is. The argument is with the assertion in the article that tablets are going to *replace* desk/lap-tops, and that the touch interface is superior to all other methods of input - and that is not based on evidence. Even your own argument says that the tablets are effectively turned into desktops with all the peripherals (except decent storage) in order to do real work.

  21. MattEvansC3

    I've been doing office jobs for about six years now and personally think that Win8 would be well suited for most office jobs.

    Essentially in my time doing desk work, be it application processing, payments, call centres and helpdesk I've rarely needed more than two applications on the screen at the same time. My current role requires me to have an email client, a web based booking system, our database and access to another organisations database (read-only). Of course I also need general internet access and Office.

    The full screen, snap to fit and drag to drop multitasking is surprisingly easier than the minimise, maximise, resize, reposition, etc routine that you have to do with desktop programs. I only need about five program shortcuts so the desktop and start menu shortcuts are pretty much wasted in my day to day duties and having to minimise every program just to get at a desktop shortcut is a huge pain compared to just clicking on the "Start Button" and going back to the Start Screen.

    Of course there are flaws that need fixing and refinements that need to be made.

    1) Microsoft have to make the start screen look professional and allow skins or colour uniformity for live tiles. My WP8 handset looks more professional with its blue livetiles on a black background than Windows8 current Fisher Price colour splash.

    2) Microsoft has to allow files and folders to be pinned to the Start Screen.

    3) Microsoft needs to help companies get their programs as Win8 apps.

    Think of it from a tech support aspect, the more options for untrained staff is harder to support. The Win8 Start Screen is quite locked down, its got huge icons and fewer commands so while it takes longer to get used to its a hell of a lot easier to talk someone through it remotely. Power users are still better off with the Desktop but in your average large firm how many users are power users?

    1. Bootman

      Windows 8 may work in an office environment if the users are solely in fairly simple one task Metro applications, with a more logical method of shutting down / task switching. I am fairly sure if users had 3 or 4 basic programs, which didn't need to interact with each other much, with appropriate lockdown and controls it may work alright.

      Once you start messing around with desktop applications, and opening files in explorer which launch Metro applications to view / access them, then the trouble starts. Equally once you start doing any real complex work, for example you may be word processing, and need to refer to something in another window, then a loss of context from switching from full screen program to full screen program is for many users disruptive to their workflow.

      I have had to support users who have Windows 8 installed. None of who were "power users" by any stretch of the imagination. Classic Shell and restoring all the file associations to work with desktop applications more or less made them happy, but the loss of context and continual jump between Metro and the desktop for them when trying to do basic tasks such as view an image or video infuriated them. They were much happier with the traditional Windows layout.

      I spent about an hour getting used to Windows 8, purely because I knew a time would come when the inevitable "I need help with Windows" calls would come through, and although I got used to working with it, I found Metro particularly annoying and disruptive on the desktop, if Windows 8 was used as it was supposed to be used. In contrast getting used to the iPad and iPhone took next to no time. Of the other newer UIs I've recently delved into, Ubuntu's Unity at least followed a certain paradigm, and appeared to be the direction Windows 8 was aiming to go in if they had got it half right instead of totally wrong, and Mint's Cinnamon is an amazing piece of work, which any Windows XP / 7 user would feel at home in especially for something free developed by a relatively small team.

      Windows 8 is for 90% of people an irritating waste of time, which has tarnished the Microsoft name further. Which is a real pity, as they got it spot on with Windows 7, perhaps their first OS since the days of Windows 95 which actually excited consumers, rather than was something they just tolerated.

  22. Malagabay
    Coat

    Re Bollocks!

    Back in the day... the old 3270 days...

    I would type in my code and compile...

    Then along came MicroFocus [if I remember correctly] with a PC editor/checker...

    My productivity plummeted...

    I thought THIS WILL NEVER CATCH ON...

    Great for code monkeys... but useless for coders...

    But the code monkeys were cheap...

    And management couldn't differentiate anyway...

    So everyone [at that site] moved over to Microfocus...

    And I moved on.

    Back in the day... when ASP was new...

    I coded in NOTEPAD...

    Then along came VisualStudio...

    My productivity plummeted

    Great for code monkeys... but useless for coders...

    But the code monkeys were cheap...

    And management couldn't differentiate anyway...

    So everyone [at that site] moved over to VisualStudio...

    And I moved on.

    The lessons:

    Never underestimate the ability of cheapskate management to dumb down a profession.

    Never underestimate the ability of code monkeys to dumb down computing...

    Beside...

    The kids soon won't know how to use a keyboard.. or what one is...

    or how to use their fingers to touch type...

    Same for the mouse with buttons and a wheel...

    Both need a level of co-ordination that just isn't going to be there...

    Welcome to dumbing down...

    We are dinosaurs: DINO-SAU-R-US

    Welcome to downsizing / more time with the family / new career / retirement and extinction.

    Now there's a happy thought for the weekend :-)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Re Bollocks!

      A compiler? Pfui, real coders write in hexadecimal codes, compilers are for code monkeys. And no GUI editors like notepad, edlin is all you need.

      IT luddites are those sontied to the old days they can't really understand how to write modern applications. That's why they can't take advantage of parallel programming.

  23. StampedChipmunk

    Peak Power PC?

    IMO the growth in Tablets is simply because the chips that power our PCs have stagnated and there isn't the driver to upgrade the PC anymore.

    Example I have a desktop gaming machine - an Intel Core 2 Quad with 8Gb of RAM. The only upgrade it's received in years is a new graphics card to get me access to DX11. It is now five years old and runs everything absolutely fine (Win7).

    Thing is I don't need to change the machine. It's not like Photoshop won't run on it, I can play the latest games at pretty much full whack, MS Office, Email everything all fine.

    I bought a tablet to play some games on, watch some TV on and read some books on. I had the budget to buy one because I didn't need to change the PC every four years to keep up with the latest software demands. It's a gimmick, a gizmo, something fun to play around with, but it is highly unlikely to ever replace my desktop machines.

    Why? Primarily the interface. Touch is not a decent interface for the same reason it hasn't taken over the world before (it has been around since the 50s after all) - YOU HAVE TO BLOCK PART OF THE DISPLAY TO INTERACT WITH IT. Your thumb has to press the virtual button on the screen, thereby obscuring that button as you do so. This means that, by definition, touch interfaces must be simpler than mouse-based versions.

    I'm hugely impressed by some of the interfaces employed by a great many apps, and UI nightmares such as Photoshop could do well to learn the lessons of the hidden interfaces you see on a great many apps - but that does not mean they are a decent substitute.

    The fact that a great many Bluetooth or clip-on keyboards are now available for tablets implies there is a consumer demand for IO techniques that do not use up visual real estate.

    Then there is the size - 10" is about as big a size the tablet market can take. I run a macbook through a 27" monitor. My Windows desktop runs three 24" monitors. I don't see the 24" tablet being a sales champion, do you?

    Tablets are excellent for the consumption of media and for portability with limited production tools. They have, quite rightly, killed off the tiny laptop and netbook. I suspect the Ultrabook market will probably succumb in the future too. They excel at portability and, with the application of a well designed app or two, can be a superb business or office tool - for example customer surveys.

    But the creation of that app, the development of the graphics, the testing of the design, the writing of the code, and the employment of the server that hosts the data collected will all be done by desktop-based machines.

    I see tablets as being the 21st century dumb terminal - great for getting access to centrally held information. The desktop PC will be around for a long while yet... trouble is there is no need to buy a new one...

  24. john 103

    Reg Users are not typical

    Personally I think its a bit ironic as I blame Microsoft!

    Cast your mind back 10 years when Mum/Wife/Girlfriend/Uncle Albert were all buying PCs

    (Desktops - not even Laptops). When asked why the common answer was:

    Email/Internet/Word Processing/Games/Print Christmas Cards etc

    None of them were going to write code/ perform complex statistical analysis/ do CAD or any of the myriad of complex computing tasks that we take for granted.

    To a large extent these people were suckered (Mainly by Microsoft/Intel) into buying massively over-specced PCs that never got above 5%cpu utilization.

    I think there are a lot of valid use cases presented by the commentators here where tablets are clearly unsuited but the key point is that the majority of all PC users can manage quite happily on a tablet/phone and there's absolutely zero incentive for them to ever need to buy a new PC.

    As someone above pointed out - this is a shame as these were the people who, to some extent, subsidized our PC innovation.

    From now on - the notion that the PC is a "consumer" device is dead and we will revert back to the pre-internet days when only the techies/scientists etc need one.

    As an analogy -In the old days you could use a C64 to write games for the C64 but now you need a PC to write games for the PS4. Same thing is happening in the world of PCs/Phones/Tablets.

    Escape-Colon-Q

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Reg Users are not typical

      Nobody here - not one fucking person - is claiming tablets won't take off. They're not claiming tablets won't outsell PCs. They aren't even saying tablets won't be more popular.

      There are always more content consumers than content creators.

      The point that everyone is trying to make - and that the polyfondle hipsterati can't grok - is that tablets won't replace the PC. They are an and not and or. They will replace the PC for consumption amongst consumers. They won't replace the PC amongst content creators and there are still several hundred million of us around the world.

      So go, consume. Please. Pay your money and fondle your rounded patent-encumbered magic shiny box. I make good money off the likes of you.

      But the tablet is not killing the PC. It is replacing the television, print media and other consumptive activities.

      PC sales will fall. Then they'll level out and stay there with minimal growth for decades. How many fridges, really, need to be sold every year? Tea kettles? Coffee makers? But everyone still buys them. Acquiring them is even part of the right of passage into adulthood. Replacing them a subject of fierce household debate over time and requirements. This is where the PC now lives.

      To say that the tablet will "kill" the PC is like saying the introduction of the microwave will kill the oven. Not going to happen.

  25. Tim 11

    This could actually be a good thing

    computers have suffered for so long from the problem that any old idiot with a laptop had the tools to create content, hence most software and most web sites are crap - the software equivalent of a movie filmed on a mobile phone.

    by finally giving dumb users a content consumption device instead of a content creation device, we might finally get to have the people who know what they're doing creating the real content and software, while slab-fondlers can concentrate on tweets and facebook posts that nobody reads.

    1. Malagabay
      Happy

      Re: we might finally get to have the people who know what they're doing

      Santa says: HO HO HO!

  26. Russ Tarbox

    I don't see the PC market dying.

    Everywhere I look there are PCs at work. I still use one.

    I think one of the key issues is that they don't need replacing so often. Most workplace software doesn't need the latest processors anymore. So things only get replaced when they're REALLY old (still decommissiong the odd Pentium 4 machine here!) and we've taken to refreshing machines with extra RAM and SSDs.

    So, sure, manufacturer's might see their bottom line shrinking. But I don't see tablets replacing PCs in the enterprise any time soon.

  27. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Door bursts open

    The chief problem with the the slab is lack of screen real estate. And the pain inducing error-prone software keyboard.

    Two. The two chief problems with the slab are the lack of screen real estate and the software keyboard that makes my fingers hurt and is error-prone, and the fact that only one application can be running at the same time.

    Three. The three chief problems with the slab are (ticking off on fingers):

    Small screen,

    Bad keyboard

    Only one application at a time

    and...

    I'll come in again.

  28. zanshin

    Eh

    I don't really buy into the full spin of the article, but I do think some aspects of the impact of slabs will hit PCs as we know them.

    The modern PC has become a fairly durable good - something you buy and keep for 5+ years rather than something people replace every 1-3. Why has that happened? Partially maturity, partially because the incremental performance for buying a new one has been dropping for a while - the bang for the buck on an upgrade has decreased such that it doesn't make sense to do very often for all but the most hard-core users. I'm a pretty serious power user who builds his own (and family) PCs from parts and I expect my current PC to last me 5 years before I really want a new rig.

    This means that, for branded PC makers, this means growth is slumping. Windows 8 and it's idiotic handling of what was probably a generally wise paradigm shift didn't help, but it didn't cause this growth slump. Market saturation with longer-lasting goods did. In this case "market" means "all the people who can afford and make use of a desktop/laptop PC". Most of the people who could/would own a PC already have one and have no compelling need for a new one.

    Yes, there are lots of *other* potential customers out there in the world, but for a variety of reasons they weren't going to be able to afford a PC (or have a place to hook it up) for the foreseeable future.

    And then, along came a sort of PC-like thing that people don't have to "hook" up in the same sense. All they need is a cellular network capable of decent-ish data rates and a place to plug it in overnight for charging. Still high demands in some part of the world but vastly more common than the home office niche a lot of us have in the developed world. And it's a lot cheaper than the cheapest PC or laptop.

    Companies as a rule chase growth - if they're public they basically are obligated to do so, because their shareholders and often the law demand it. If growth in PC sales is collapsing, PC makers *have* to chase the next growth market, even if it's not PCs.

    Does that lead to a "post-PC era"? I doubt it in the sense that some people seem to like to claim, but the reality is that if enough of the big companies wither their PC production, that has a knock-on effect on price and availability of the things that go into PCs. As they exist today their parts are cheap and generally modular because umpteen different companies make them. What happens when that changes?

    I think that market group-think leads to this notion that PCs will completely disappear, and I think that's dumb, and even this article doesn't claim that. I do think this shift in where growth leads makers will impact who makes the PC of the future, how easy it is to modify or build bespoke, what OS is available to run on it., and (perhaps most importantly) what applications are made available for those OSes. Personally, I think it looks a bit grim, but not completely awful.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Eh

      > Windows 8 didn't cause this growth slump. Market saturation with longer-lasting goods did.

      Yes. Watching video and surfing doesn't require a muscular PC (even cellphones can do it), and the only demanding PC software -- the games -- are today all written for consoles, which have 7 to 10 year generation spans, meaning that a decent stationary PC from 2008 is still able to run all new games.

      A PC today is a mature technology, more like a fridge or a TV than a cellphone -- there is zero reason to upgrade PC hardware more often than about every fifth year (and then only if you care about playing the latest and greatest games).

      This wont change unless there is a change in usage patterns. It is possible that the coming 3D headsets such as the Oculus Rift can be such a change.

  29. bailey86

    What about R2D2? He showed us the way. Or maybe not.

    He was a computing unit which got plugged into an X Wing.

    I see the possibility that I could have a tablet (or smartphone) which is capable of running Netbeans, Libre Office, The Gimp, Emacs, bash and have plenty of storage. Then, when I get to the office I plug it into a base station which gives me a 24inch screen, nice old IBM Keyboard and Trackman mouse, Altec speakers. Lovely.

    OK - So basically I'm asking for a phone running a full OS - maybe Ubuntu ... which ... err ... hang on a minute! For those of us who like to walk any reduction in the weight of my primary device as low as possible is important.

    But, there's a problem here - what if I need to work where there is no base station? (By work I mean such things many people do such as coding, Netbeans, spreadsheets, Photoshop, Indesign, data entry, accounts, review writing, creating documents, adding comments to El Reg, etc etc etc ) Or what if I want to work on my lap on the sofa? I find a laptop with a 12inch screen to be just about fine for all day work use (in my case an HP Elitebook 2540p). And this would need to run a non-touch interface (Xbuntu in my case). At that size and propped up by a book or similar I can happily work all day if necessary. (Luckily, most times when I go to a client's site to work there are usually spare monitors and keyboards around which I borrow).

    Also, in fact, I prefer my (12inch) laptop (on a laptray) for sofa browsing (i.e. consuming) to our Nexus 10. Middle click to open tabs, much faster typing, much more accurate mouse, multiple desktops etc. So, I prefer my little laptop for consuming information rather than our tablet.

    So I don't see everything going to touch and tablets only.

    My view is that on the client side there will be:

    1. Tablets, Phablets, Smart mobes; touch based, always connected, loads of apps etc.

    2. Lightweight (but powerful) laptops; half kilo weight, portable, long battery life, fast slick OS, easily downloadable apps, easy connections, decent keyboard, ethernet port for sorting out network stuff. And cheap! Who likes carrying around 2k's worth of laptop when they are stopping off at the bar on the way home.

    3. Much better base stations. One that greets you when your device gets within Bluetooth range - 'Hiya, let me adjust your chair and connect your device to my 30inch monitor, etc'

    Thinking about it - Apple have 1 and 2 with iOS and Mac OS and their various form factors (except the price). Most (especially young) coders I see these days seem to have MacBook Airs.

    Otherwise (in my case) we have Android on tablets and Ubuntu/Xubuntu on the laptop.

    Conclusions from this rambling...

    * Chromebook - possibly a better tablet than a tablet - i.e. a better device for consuming. Great in office/schools if all the content is web based or apps are available.

    * Chromebook with Xubuntu/Debian installed might be nice.

    * Apple - might be doing things right - apart from the price thing.

    * You can possibly see what MS with Win8.1 laptops are aiming at. Two buttons on the start up/login screen of hybrid devices might be an idea - Do you want tablet or desktop mode? My anecdotal evidence is that users are returning Win8 PC's/laptops cos they can't get on with tablet mode.

    * Maybe MS should have kept to two OS's; Windows 7 and Windows Phone/Tablet. And make devices either one or the other. Trying to combine the OS's was brave - but maybe not feasible.

  30. ShellShockeD

    input types are errelevent

    the input type is erelevent it is the way the arrangment of the element that dictacts the input methodolgy

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the risk of downvotes

    The entire thread of comments could have been replicated in Computer Weekly, Computer Design or even Byte in the 1980s, but about how the (current generation of ) PCs was OK for end users, but in no way a replacement for the serious work that was done on minis.

    1. zanshin

      Re: At the risk of downvotes

      I'm not sure the comparison with what happened to minis is 100% apt. That seems to compare better withpredicting that in 5-10 years those using PCs might have them based around low-power ARM chips, which is certainly not impossible. The comparison between slabs and PCs (and notebooks) is as much about form factor (keyboard+mouse, etc. vs pure touch) and user interface as much about the architecture of the system.

      Now, the shift between on-client and remote processing by your application is possibly apt in that comparison, but that is actually not wholly integral to the PC vs slab debate, at least IMO. Modern slabs come with enough grunt to run certain things locally rather well *if you buy a high-end one*.

      The migration back to the "cloud" version of a client-server model for various compute is partially about keeping the price of slabs low for growth into developing markets but also about control (vendor lock-in) by large corporations, the attraction of locking people into subscriptions versus one-off purchases, benefits of economies of scale, and the idea that it's nigh impossible to pirate stuff that doesn't execute locally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At the risk of downvotes

        @zanshin,

        Fair comment, though I think you've over-analysed my post, which was just an observation (I was struck by the similarities but didn't really think it through.)

        I was thinking of how early PCs hadn't got the UI sorted, and had many practical limitations that meant that they were no a mini replacement. But the desire to use them drove the design of monitors, mice, Wacom tablets and the like, and democratised them.

        The tablet brings several new things into the equation: touch, solid state storage, and long autonomy. (In addition, the higher end ones have excellent displays and sound in a form factor that is too small to be a standalone desktop replacement.) These are not necessarily at the expense of other functions. If I need a larger monitor, many tablets will comfortably drive one. If I need a mouse, it will plug in. The time that I don't need the peripherals, I don't have to have them. That's really the convenience. The full house laptop has become like a 4x4 with a towbar; even if I'm just going to the convenience store, I still have to drag around 2.5t of metal and plastic. What I really want is a Fiat 500 for most of the time, that suddenly breaks out a towbar and turns on a few extra cylinders in the engine when I need to go to Travis Perkins, or haul a boat. Although the analogy is getting strained, the tablet can potentially fulfil that role in a few years - with multiple core processors that run at reduced speed and power on battery, and a suitable dock, it's a lot more convenient than a laptop.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: At the risk of downvotes

          Except for the part where none of the manufacturers or OS vendors are remotely interested in creating a tablet that actually supports productivity. They take a perfectly productive OS (like Windows 7) and turn it into Windows 8.

          I grok the need for a touch interface on the go. I grok the convenience of a tablet. (I do own several, and a Galaxy Note 2). But the bit where we are supposed to have a single productive/convenient converged hybrid just isn't something anyone seems to give a flying fuck about.

          Tablets are seen as a way to part punters from money in exchange for something they need to refresh regularly. They are locked down, unfixable, unexpandable, unupgradable walled gardens. Nobody is going to mess with that formula and risk turning a tablet into something that people only feel needs to be upgraded every 5-10 years.

          That means that creating a "good enough" tablet that does everything we actually want in a productive manner is simply off the table. If they did that, they'd have nothing to sell us two years hence.

          In the meantime, we'll get buckets of dead fish heads like Windows 8. So for the forseeable future tablets are consumption-dominant with "productivity" being something you have to really work at...and they'll not get anywhere close to PCs for productivity before the end of the decade. This I promise you.

  32. johnwerneken

    Good Take - cheapness and use case

    Second intelligent comment I've seen on the subject (after my own, which isn't as relevant: touch as a unified interface for devices of all types).

    Cheapness - mass market powering mass production with a steep downwards cost curve - that's what the PC was and the smart pocket device is. Personally I think the iPad size is either far too small or far too big, but the portable device is getting truly cheap and truly robust.

    Use case - I've tended to approach tech since I got in to it in the early 60's as a question of toolkits, for which I would later find purposes. Most people do not look at ANYTHING that way - they already know what they want to do, and it will involve such things as people, entertainment, earning money, spending money, education. The only one of those that interests me in the LEAST is people, and that, not much for most of them.

    But then, I am odd. So are PC's. A famous industrial design consultant with 7 figure earnings once spoke and answered questions afterwards. Asked about the design quality of PCs in general, he pointed to doorknobs. Doorknobs he said are designed so that any human being once observing a doorknob in operation knows all they ever need to know about how to make use of a doorknob: GOOD DESIGN. Then he said, if the Doorknob defines design excellence, then the PC is at the opposite extreme of the design spectrum. He's right.

    Ubiquitous pocket wireless connected devices lend themselves to what people are likely to want to do, with these “APS” for every imaginable purpose. Maybe a PC is like a toolshed supporting a garden, but these BYODs are cornucopias full of grown vegetables, no experience required.

  33. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

    Re: Wrong.

    Spot on....

    Tablets are ok for performing basic software input functions and consulting cloud data and apps, yada yada.

    I think of mine as a bigger, slightly better, more visible smart phone I can use to check my email, social networks, skype, flight reservations, and ebay. It lets me play games on the train, occasionally take a poke at the Android OS or even read the Register.

    I willingly accept its limitations.

    Because of their small size, light-weight, decent battery life and mobility, tabs CAN BE marginally better (or just more convenient) for some tasks but that's where it stops for me.

    For real work, I still must go upstairs and fire up the big, fan-cooled iron/silcon beast sitting in my office.

    That's why I'm now typing this post on a KVM guest session. Way easier and faster than typing it on my tab (and way, way faster and easier than typing it on a smart phone). And why is that so?

    Primarily because it has a physical keyboard.

    Do typing speed tests qualify as scientific proof? Methinks yes.

    My laptop, desktops and servers can be used for testing, building VM environments and tools, doing backups, burning and storing media, developing/compiling code, or typing/creating documents and SO MANY, MANY other things.

    A large percentage of tasks are too clumsy, slow or impossible to do on a tab. I'm still trying to teach mine to print, for heaven's sake.

    Yeah yeah sure, I can SSH or RDP to another server from my tablet, but why would I bother?

    It's like choosing a dial up network connection over a readily available 1 GB connection.

    Maybe if both my legs were broken and I couldn't make it upstairs.

    And if you needed any more evidence that touch hasn't quite conquered the world for anything more than the simplest tasks, try using a tablet with USB keyboard and kick stand for any length of time.

    At first, the kludge is amusing. However, it will soon dawn on you that you've transformed your sweet little tablet into a mutant, bastard-child: a reduced-function, crippled, schizophrenic laptop.

    And if you are like me, you will quickly return to finger mode and leave that bastard child alone, unless you have no other choice.

    Chromebooks have combined the best features of both worlds (an Android OS and a physical keyboard) but still look like laptops without wifi hardware to me. I think we are still missing a few links in this technological evolution. It's either that or the economy has failed to cull enough marketing droids.

    Tablets make sense if your business is delivering packages, taking notes, looking at pictures, reading web pages, taking opinion polls, taking bar/restaurant orders. visiting customers and so on.

    They have their place in the data entry eco-system and that space will continue to grow.

    But even today, I believe a web or graphics designer would balk at doing any serious work on a commodity tablet. As would most sys admins, developers or DBAs. I mean would you seriously drop a corporate database table with a finger swipe or from a mini keyboard?

    Not on my tablet, you wouldn't, although it's OK for playing Angry Birds.

    Will that ever change ?....... maybe one day.

    However, there are good reasons why replacing the keyboard and mouse is not a trivial challenge, despite the hype.

    Keyboards have existed since the 19th century and pointers have been around for decades.

    This is because they work and are still the most efficient tools for data entry.

    Such venerable devices need to be replaced by BETTER options before they can disappear completely.

    In sum, when it becomes just as simple to do your job on a super-thin tab client as it is on a traditional thick desktop, you might. As long as the opposite is true, you, like me, will probably keep going back to that office/keyboard. And the five million souls who can only pay 30 quid for their tablet will still find its use restricted to certain tasks, at least for now.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're moving back to the days when computers were big machines in a locked room and the user had to use a terminal to access it.

    The difference is we're using the big computers via the Internet now.

    Personal computing won't exist soon, what happened to the empowerment that meant anyone could write software?

  35. jonathanb Silver badge

    Ballmer doesn't get it

    Saying that the PC market is dead because tablets are taking over is like saying that the oven market is dead because electric kettles are taking over.

    Kettles are good for preparing hot drinks and pot noodles, much better than an oven, however they are completely at for example making toast.

    Tablets are good for reading things, watching things and looking at things. Much better than the PC, unless you happen to be sitting at the PC when you want to read, watch or look at the thing. Tablets are completely useless at inputting things into the system if you want to type more than a couple of words.

    For example, if you work on the road, a tablet would be good for looking at your job list to see where you need to go next, to tap on a few buttons to let the people back at base know you've completed the job, and maybe enter a few words or tick a few boxes to say what you found and what you did. If you need to prepare a report of more than a couple of sentences, then you probably want to get out the laptop to do it. If you are back at base scheduling the work, and entering notes about what needs to be done, then you will do that on a desktop machine, not a tablet.

  36. Ron Christian

    wow, there's so much wrong with this...

    ... I don't know where to begin.

    Tablets are *not* the wave of the future. They are the wave of a future for a particular group of people -- the content consumers. One could even stipulate that most PC users are content consumers the great majority of the time.

    But to have content to consume, you need content creators. Other than taking a low quality photo and drawing a moustache on it, tablets suck at content creation. There will still be a need for PCs. I'll be happy to revisit this when Adobe produces a usable touch-only version of their Creative Suite. (I know, they're working on this for some pieces of the suite, but they're not working very hard, partly because of the perception -- warranted -- that content creators do not use tablets.)

    And this brings us to Windows 8. It's a little screwy but somewhat usable on a touch-only device, (although for some things you will still have to attach the optional keyboard) but on a desktop machine, the machine on which content is created, it's pants. I'm sure Microsoft knows this; they're not idiots. But they pushed on anyway, no doubt thinking that they'll make enough on the Surface to balance the losses they'll experience in the desktop model.

    "Intuitive?" Are we talking about the same Windows 8? Ok, you have never seen Win8 before. I hand you a slab. You can scrape your finger across the screen, see some squares which don't always tell you exactly what they are. Some have dynamic content. You touch one, and an app opens up. Ok, now I want to do something else. HOW DO YOU DISMISS THE APP? There's nothing obvious to press -- no conveyance -- to tell you what to do next. How do you get to the control panel? How do you turn the damned thing off? All of these questions have answers, but you have to learn them elsewhere, or divine them by random scraping similar to finding easter eggs in a first person shooter.

    iOS? Intuitive, yes, if somewhat limited and boring. Android? Intuitive enough that my 73 year old mother can pick one up and make it do stuff. But Windows 8? It should be renamed WTF, because that's the phrase you'll be repeating over and over.

    Moore's Law didn't need to continue indefinitely, it only needed to continue until PCs are Good Enough. And now they are. There are still performance bumps possible -- denser memory, faster disk (mechanical or solid state), better caching algorithms, but commodity computers are Fast Enough for most people right now. Computers that are not upgradable seem wasteful to me, but it is what it is. If the computer starts out Fast Enough, and is cheap enough, I'm happy with replacing it when my requirements change.

    From Task Manager, I list 18 apps currently running, 40 processes and close to 60 services. The CPU Usage tab shows all these disparate programs running roughly evenly across all four cores. Even with only 1 app running, I still have a pantload of processes and services, more or less evenly distributed across the cores.

    So no, unless you're running Lotus 123 from a Dos prompt, you can't help but have many many things churning around just under the surface, even if you don't realize that this is the case. "If you run just one app you need only one core" is an idiotic statement for anyone who professes to write for a technical website. Multiple cores really do buy you a lot in an OS with proper multitasking. It's almost as if the author is making a case for single tasking because Metro tends to run apps full screen -- getting us used to the idea that no, we really didn't want to do more than one thing at a time. It just doesn't fly.

    There's a LOT more wrong with the article, but I'm out of time and need to get back to work. In summary, the entire article tries to wrap up some idiotic conclusions in a few half-truths and some outrageous ... well, let's call them Misunderstandings. We aren't going to an all-tablet world anytime soon. Windows 8 continues to be Pants, and was probably Ballmer's worst mistake in a long series of arrogant blunders.

  37. LeeAlexander

    Yawn

    Enough has been said about Windows 8.X... personally the new UI is shite for normal desktop / laptop usage...However if you don't like it as the saying goes 'Vote with your feet;! I'll move to OSX when I WinRT encroaches too far in to my day to day activities.

  38. LDS Silver badge

    The PC market is just fragmenting - just it did before. Tablets are just another form factor.

    Tablets are not going to replace PCs - unless they became PCs on their own - something alike the Surface Pro. What's happening really is the market is fragmenting once more. It happened before.

    First, you had "the PC". The desktop type, sitting under a monitor. Then someone thought it could become a server - and then new form factors came in. First, the tower one, than the rackable one, then the blade one (and now the virtualize cloud ones...). The tower form factor appealed some desktop user too, so they can hide it under the desk, not on top of it. But meanwhile laptops appearead - and the very different laptop form factors appeared too, from the huge "self-propelled" workstations for heavy duties, to the sleek, light thin ones for those always on the run (or just wanting to show off...).

    Now we have another form factor - the tablet. Sure, till now you see a difference because tablets were much less powerful than PCs, and can't run many of theirs tasks. As soon as tablets become more powerful, they become PCs. And user will want to use them as PCs. Adding input peripherals good for input intensive tasks, docking them to docking stations (maybe wireless ones...), using larger output devices for output-intensive tasks. OSes that ditched multitasking to save power, will reintroduce it because users will demand it, while CPUs and GPUs will become less power hungry, while batteries more powerful.

    And eventually, bad developers will learn how to code multithreaded applications. It is true not everything can be run in parallel, but there is a lot of software that can benefit by parallel executions of many concurrent tasks. Look at how Lightroom, for example, take advantage of parallel execution.

    It's only the actual "small features envelope" of many tablets apps that makes MT useless for them. More sophisticated apps will require it. Even a browser will span multiple threads to download images while it parses and JITs JavaScript. Just, yes, writing complex MT applications requires skilled developers who know what they're doing. And unluckily, there aren't many. Many of those who learnt to code with RAD tools in the era of single core CPUs often can't code this kind of applications - on any OS, Windows, Linux, MacOS or whatever.

  39. Vociferous

    Getting used to Windows 8

    > Windows 8 is going down like a bucket of cold sick - but you're going to have to get used to it.

    No, I don't. For me, Windows died with Win8. It is not an acceptable OS. I'll use Windows 7 until Microsoft succeed in making it incompatible with critical new software, by then there will hopefully be a server version of Android or SteamOS available.

    1. Ron Christian

      Re: Getting used to Windows 8

      Agree. To "get used to" Windows 8 I'd have to use it, and there's not much danger in that. My work is just now upgrading to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, and they tend to stick with an OS until it's not supported anymore. We've been using Windows XP for 13 years. We'll probably stick with 7 for a decade. A lot can happen in that time. Microsoft will either come to their senses (Ballmer leaving may help with that) or some other platform will become more interesting.

  40. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Boffin

    Combo cloud, tablets AND PC option?

    "....If you're a touch-hater, there will still be keyboards and pointing devices. WIMP desktops will stick around - but mainly on FOSS systems; the mainstream will leave them behind....." Hmmmm. If all you do is consume then tablets will do. But even the simplest of consumers have productivity requirements. I like Office365 but I'm not convinced I can replace all my PC tasks with O365 and tablets. Even voice input, which has been around for years, is not as good nor accurate as a keyboard and mouse combo. Maybe a Glasshole "virtual mouse" which moves the cursor to follow your focus might replace the mouse in time, but the cost compared to a wireless mouse would probably be prohibitive for a good few years yet. I'll probably end up with a combination of cloudie services such as O365, tablets, and probably a household PC that also doubles up as a household server for stuff I want to keep closer to him than the cloud. So I'm not convinced tablets or phablets spell the doom of PCs just yet.

  41. fearnothing

    Connectivity has already become a utility service in the minds of many. The general consensus of sci-fi is that computing itself will move in the direction of becoming a ubiquitous, omnipresent thing. I think that Windows 8 and tablet computing in general is a step in this direction, so in that sense the author is right. As plenty of my fellow commentards have pointed out though, this paradigm is still very far removed from being useful to content creators, developers, power users and the like. I can envision a world in which my own work (security event analysis) is capable of being performed through voice/touch interfaces, but it's also obvious to me that this world is still quite a long way in the future.

    When computers are capable of highly personalised slang and idiosyncrasy interpretation, then perhaps non-consumers can move on to new interfaces. I don't think touch alone will ever be enough for us.

    P.S. did anyone else read the article about ultrasound tactile feedback and immediately think of combining it with dynamic holography? How awesome would that be as an interface?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some of us want to do more than Facebook

    I agree with Trevor_Pott. Some of us want a PC for more than just Facebook and Twitter, I think it says more about our kids today than anything else. In the early 80's I was writing in Machine Code. Most of them today can barely write and probably are just about able to push an icon on a screen, I work on loads of tasks at one time. A tablet (although I love them) aren't able to do that. You *need* a PC with a proper mouse and keyboard. I think there's still mileage in PC's for a while yet!!!!!!

  43. EtonBears

    Everything changes.

    Bill Gates predicted ( or at least wanted ) "a computer on every desk and a computer in every home".

    He was, of course, wrong as usual. He was looking at the world as a well educated, thoughtful person that loves technology for its own sake.

    Most people are not like that. Most people care about what they can do with technology. If they are given more interesting things to do ( from their point of view ) or better ways to do it, they will likely adopt said new features and mechanisms.

    In other words, every technology advance eventually devolves in the mainstream to consumer electronics and appliances, because that is what most people want.

    Personally, I treat my mobile phone mainly as a phone, with occasional use of flashlight or maps apps. On the other hand, it WAS a Windows mobile, but now runs MIUI Android, because I'm a geek.

    Similarly, I find tablets to be really useful for watching cat videos while still slumming in bed, but useless for everything else, where tiny screens don't suit my old eyes or my giant hands, and the "Apps" are generally poorly programmed, dysfunctional or pointless.

    But that's OK. I'm happy to use my general purpose computers for all the things people use phones, tablets and games consoles for, plus all the things those devices can't do.

    And when tablets disappear to be replaced by headache-inducing head-mounted displays with voice control whatever, I'm sure I shall largely ignore tham as well.

    Choice is a great thing.

  44. All names Taken
    Alien

    Low spec Aldi tablet

    Has anyone read Daily Mail recently bout rush on Aldi low-ish spec tablet on sale in UK for 75 of the earthlings UK pound things?

    Who says there is no demand for computers?

    It seems as if there is a great demand but one that is not being met¿

    Besides maybe it manifests the UK march to third world status?

  45. Fenton

    Compute Unit

    Well this is what I'd like to see.

    A tablet/phone, what-ever being just a compute unit with a touch screen.

    In normal un-docked mode it works in a Touch UI mode, i.e. review docs, make minor edits, but mostly content consumption.

    However when I dock it. I'd like it to revert to a productivity UI, the docking station will deal with multiple monitors, etc. In Docked mode the screen on the tablet will also work as a pen based input device.

    Any true heavy lifting will be performed on the cloud, be it an internal cloud or external.

    But I can see a point where mobile CPUs start to approach the speed Desktop/server CPUs we have today so I won't have to offload the processing power.

    Now MS have almost thought this through, but alas have forgotten the Desktop mode. It should be up to app developers to develop apps to have a dual personality, touch and Desktop. Please give us the best of both worlds!

  46. Sheep!

    "Steve Ballmer knew this"

    Yeah about 4 years late, long after the horse had bolted and taken the door closing equipment with it. The market forgave Vista because Win 7 worked and worked well. Win 8,1 is Win 8 prettied up and precious little else. Give it 5 years and MS simply won't have relevance in the consumer market any more and will become a business and enterprise company who also chuck out the occasional smartphone for veeps that interface with their backend products.

  47. Sarah Balfour

    FONDLE SLAB...?!

    WTF came up with THAT...?! Maybe it's my autistic brain but, the first thing that entered my head when I saw it was that it sounds like some kinda device from a VERY dodgy, early-'80s underground porn film. Probably Swedish.

    And now we have 'fondlegroups' which sound to me like a kind of rather polite swingers' nights for middle-class, upper-middle-aged folk who've been out the game for a while and need a gentle reintroduction to the delights of sexual intimacy.

    But, like I said, I'm autistic, and I don't do lateral thinking, too linear; I like to think of my mind/brain as some kind of neurological TARDIS, reaching out far beyond the confines of my skull.

    Oh, and I think the hamster does acid...

  48. Neil Alexander

    Bootnote: Multi-threading

    "One runs your app, one runs your antivirus or some OS stuff in the background, and the others do sod-all most of the time."

    Not strictly true. The operating system scheduler will balance processes/threads across all available cores, even if applications themselves are not technically SMP-aware. There is no specific affinity by default for your antivirus or your background "OS stuff" to run on one single core.

  49. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    I wonder if ARM might happen upon a design that makes external storage non-dependent upon SD cards?

  50. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    If tablets are so ...

    ... effing awful why are people buying them so quickly?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: If tablets are so ...

      Because people want a consumptive device to consume content. Simples.

      They already have a productivity device (PC) that works just fine...and are evne continuing to buy those productivity devices in the hundreds of millions each year.

      There will always be more consumers of content than creators of content. That doesn't make a devices designed to consume content remotely useful for creating it.

      Unless you're into selfies. In which case, go hard.

      1. All names Taken
        Paris Hilton

        Re: If tablets are so ...

        There has to be a motivating factor however silly, bland or spurious it may appear (fart apps anyone?)

        A - So perhaps we can provisionally conclude vulgarity is an acceptable factor (porn on the web/computer? shoorli not?)

        B - Another factor seems to be: stuff for free (hence growth of google strategy?)

        C - And it has to be low cost.

        A + B + C = Android?

        The overlooked D: u hav jus been profiled dood 4 all of your online existence?

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