Windows and the PC Dead? Dream on. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim wray   
Saturday, 24 September 2011 09:11
What would be the point of getting rid of the Windows user interface as we know it, entirely? I predict Microsoft will certainly not do that at all. Metro will be a part of Windows, but I speculate that the “desktop” that has been with us since Windows 95 will continue to dominate in industry and business, with tablets and phones continuing to supplement its use for many years to come, not REPLACE the system.

Working in IT in the manufacturing industry, there are obvious places where the consumer tablet, such as an iPad or Android-based tablet, will NEVER be a suitable replacement. Now, touchscreens, on the other hand, certainly could be suitable in these areas, and honestly, touchscreens have been the norm on many of these systems for many, many years.

At my place of employ, we have several software/network based monitoring tools that are already in place and just as many that are in process of being implemented, and there is one striking pattern that I think “Joe Consumer”, who, even in tech blog writer form (such as ZDNet, ComputerWorld, PCmag.com), seems to think the PC is dead, completely cannot see:

In industry, software developers are just not developing products for the Macintosh platform. They expect you to have Windows Servers and Clients. Period.

Not one time have I ever been involved with a major software implementation (and I’ve participated in at least ten, usually planning hardware and network design) has anyone asked for Mac OS X and Macintosh hardware. It is usually quite the opposite; I will be presented with requirements that involve making sure I’m supplying computers with RS232 ports (for automation and data collection, yes, they’re still very viable for text data colllection and output) and the like. Yes, there are USB to RS232 adaptors, but they are spotty in functionality at best on any platform, direct hardware is usually the ticket from personal experience.

First, let’s define the definition of personal computer in the context of this article: it is a device with a full IBM-style 102-104 key qwerty keyboard, at full size for typing correctly like on a typewriter. It also includes ALT, Control, Page Up, Page Down, Insert, Delete, Print Screen/SysRq and pause keys. It also allows you to rest your fingers on “home row” for typing. (so, when idle, you rest your right fingers on ASDF and your left on JKL;)

Second, let’s define the tablet and smartphone: these are devices, most often based around a “multitouch” touch screen as trademarked by Apple Inc, are more geared toward consumer “consumption”, ie, most people use them to sit on the couch and read, look at Facebook, view YouTube videos, and the like. The phones allow for communication via SMS and voice calls in addition to the tablet uses. They are also great devices for reading e-mail and VERY LIGHT data entry. Essentially, puching a button on an app to signify that a system is down is a good use for a tablet. Typing an article for my website is not a good use.

Based on this situation, unless the world gets so dumbed down that only a few thousand people are generating the content to be consumed by these tablets and phones, I guess you would never need a PC (or even a Mac) in your house.

Then, there is industry and business.

Sure, the Mac could live ithe business world, particularly if Apple Inc. would throw their entire enormus influence into the enterprise arena. A handful of comapnies have developed OS X versions of their popular (usually graphics-intense) applications, such as Autodesk releasing an Autocad release for it recently.

The primary reason the Mac is limited to 15% share is this: Apple has little interest in driving, or even being heavily involved in the server market. This is why Apple isn’t going to rue the PC market anytime in the next decade if they stick to their current business plan (which they don’t discuss publicly, Apple is notoriously secretive.)

Microsoft has much more to offer in the server environment than Apple is ever planning to as far as can be seen. I work with these technologies daily, and while they have their quirks, once you master them, they are some of the most reliable technologies available today.

Some great examples:
  • Microsoft Active Directory and Group Policy:
    These give great control over your server and client environment, whether it be 50 users or 10,000. You can grant a user access, control components on groups of users (like being able or not being able to run an application), help users remotely, and change passwords for users in other cities in a large system.
  • Microsoft SQL Server:
    A realtime database management system that is the heart of major websites (like MSN), and countless manufacturing systems, and even complex financial systems. I work in this environment nearly daily, and it is a robust, tough platform that is extremely reliable. In four years, I have never seen a true “crash” of Microsoft SQL Server 2005. It just works.
  • Microsoft Exchange Server:
    A massive e-mail and shared calendaring server platform that is meant to interface directly with Microsoft Office Outlook, but also is compatible with ever major “smart” device (phones and tablets) on the market at this writing. It can be difficult to setup properly, but when it’s in, it just works and just works reliably.
  • Microsoft Sharepoint Server (and Windows Sharepoint Services):
    Sharepoint is technically an intranet site for internal use primarily, but it also doubles as an insanley amazing collaboration tool and can also be used for document control, versioning, easily built online forms (think a vacation request or order form) with structured e-mail notifications and the like. Of course, it’s not without its flaws, as some of my co-workers know, but we feel its strengths generally outweigh its weaknesses.
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials:
    A total-system console product that allows you to monitor all systems, install software remotely, and control machines from one workstation. It is an IT manager’s dream.

As much as Apple fans would like, tablets and the Mac are not going to enroach on Windows turf anytime soon, because apple essentially builds facebook, e-mail, music and video playing/editing equipment. They’re more akin to Sony at this point in their timeline than they are to Microsoft, Dell, or HP. Not that anything is wrong with this, they’re just a totally different league from Microsoft. They don’t have anything akin to the above listed enterprise function and management tools.

Until another company provides the level of ENTERPRISE support Microsoft does, there is no chance any other platform will get the foothold Microsoft Windows has.

That’s just the way it is. Believe what you will, but I’ll bet that in 2021, I’ll be managing a Windows Server-based environment as the core systems at work.