Will Windows Blue Kill the Desktop PC?
Windows 8 was a huge leap for Microsoft. It was probably their most dramatic (or drastic) change in operating system architecture, especially the GUI, since Windows 95. Windows Blue, which is 8’s successor, will continue to build upon those changes with no hint of going back at least as far as can be seen right now.
Whether or not this is a good thing depends on who you talk to. 8 has been more difficult for traditional desktop and laptop users to accept, mostly because 8 appears to have been made with mobile platforms in mind. While touch use of Win8 devices tends to be more intuitive, users who still primarily use desktops find the experience jarring until they get used to the desktop-less experience of 8.
As some of the features of Windows Blue are surfacing, it’s clear to see that Microsoft is keen to keep moving forward with 8’s design without going back to accommodate the features that Windows 7 users miss so much, including the Start menu.
Perhaps Microsoft is seeing the writing on the wall regarding the future PC market. Speculators have predicted that within the next 5 years the desktop PC will be on the decline and touch-based devices such as tablets will rule the market. Laptops have already replaced desktops for many users, so will Windows Blue with it’s geared-toward-touch GUI put another nail in the big box PC’s coffin?
Personally I still find a compelling case for big ol’ desktop PC’s. They are still much easier to repair and upgrade than laptops, and generally cost less than laptops and even some high end ubertablets and even the new iPad in some cases. The storage capacity of desktops is far beyond any tablet on the market, so there is a good case for maintaining a desktop PC as a home server to store music and video libraries that tablets and laptops can access from anywhere. Traditional desktops and many laptops also remain well-suited for processes that require heavy processing capabilities such as video editing and graphic design. Many popular programs such as Photoshop also lack mobile versions that fully match the capabilities of their desktop counterparts.
One thing that will keep the desktop PC alive and relevant in a Windows 8/Blue world, I believe, will be decreasing prices and increased availability of touch screen monitors for desktops. Touch monitors of a reasonable size for desktop use are available now but are running well over $300 for a 19 inch model. This is not a tremendous expense, but given that a 19″ LED flatscreen can be had for under $100 it’s a perceived as a lot. It’s also hard to find touch monitors in brick-and-mortar stores currently. However as technology improves and cost declines, touch will be an added feature that many will look for in future upgrades.