Tuesday 7 January 2014

Ode To The PC: Rage Against The Dying of Expensive Software and Virus Protection

The PC used to own the scene. People scoffed at cute, brightly colored Macs, and had no issue shelling out $75 a year to Norton AntiVirus and other such computer virus-fighting software. But the personal computer is on life support for many reasons. People love the lower price of the PC, but they hate having to buy a new computer every time their PC takes a dive into a viral coma, which is actually quite common. But that’s just the beginning.

It’s not just the PC operating system that’s to blame; in fact, the Windows operating system on Windows smartphones works very well, and is very much liked by those who use Windows smartphones as well as Windows-based tablets and of course, the newest line from Windows, the Surface. These devices are doing well in their respective markets, yet PCs are lagging.

While buyers of Macs several years ago may have told you the reason they switched from PC to Mac was because they were sick of their computers crashing due to viruses, today they would probably tell you they were switching from PC laptop or desktop to a tablet of some kind, and that’s because they don’t need to take out a loan to purchase one, and offer portability never before possible with such a high degree of device intelligence. From ludicrously sharp, high megapixel cameras to the ability to interact with the cloud and apps that give people access to their social lives, their work documents, and offer them mediums like Skype or Face Time that allow them to interface with everyone from the grandkids to the company CFO.

Tablets and other mobile devices are killing the PC, but it’s not unnatural. In the most organic sense possible, the PC is dying because it is being starved of an interested demographic. Why would any consumer pay twice the price for a Toshiba PC when they could spend half of that on a device that comes locked and loaded with all the doodads, apps, Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi, and don’t require the insane amounts of storage we’ve needed in the past because we’re all storing everything on Google+, Evernote, DropBox, and even the Windows Cloud… just not from a Windows PC.

Accessibility is in fact now the most important thing people look for in a device that offers them what only a PC or Mac desktop could—and so much more. It’s so common it’s a joke: we cannot put our phones down. We can’t release our grasp—literally—on what links us to what we want to know. Our addiction to data access is so severe that we can’t even fathom a scenario in which we’d have to jot down an idea or question on a piece of paper, wait to get home or back to the office, and open up Explorer (let’s not go there, please) and hop on the Internet that was attached to the wall.

PCs were near and dear to us during this time. Dialup was to the PC what the early 1980s were to Mike Tyson—PCs were the best thing ever in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They cost less than Macs, and offered more unpaid options (at that time), longer warranties, and variable user settings. But Apple isn’t all unicorns and fairy dust either—with the exception of the MacBook Pro, when it comes to Apple devices, people are mainly paying for excellent branding, which is fine, as long as their Apple devices deliver on their promises. But such promises can no longer be made by the PC, and that’s exactly why Microsoft is wise to hop into the mobile and tablet world, and their Surface could really be a game changer for the mobile device world—it has the power to bring PC lovers into the current world of technology, and also entices younger demographics who need to take notes and do homework on the go or in tight spaces. The Surface could be to this decade what the PC was in decades past. But one thing is certain: several years from now, you’re going to see two kinds of things on coffee shop tables: MacBooks and various tablets—right now the Samsung Galaxy is owning the world outside of iPad, but there’s no way to know if this is any indication on which direction consumers will go if they are “forced” by economy or other circumstance to go the way of the tablet versus the laptop.

C'est la vie PC, it was awesome writing papers and playing solitaire. It’s not you, it’s me—it’s my need for lightening speed access to information about literally anything with the tap of a screen. If you can’t produce information in front of my eyes in less than a second, it’s just not going to work out.

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at any time with questions at ella.l.gray@gmail.com.

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