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Death of the Desktop

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Cabe Atwell
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Cabe Atwell   1/20/2014 5:36:03 PM
They have been saying the desktop is becoming obsolete for a decade or more. It's like the guy wearing the 'end of the world is near' placard, yet the world goes on.

Pat Sealey
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Pat Sealey   12/17/2013 12:10:49 PM
So true

Alex Peters
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Re: ... greatly exaggerated ...
Alex Peters   12/12/2013 12:36:10 PM
Hi TedT,

Thanks for your comments on the article. The Parallax website was built as part of our company's rebrand over the summer period. With a tight deadline we had to delay the reponsive elements of the site which we're currently working on. We actually get a very small percentage of mobile and tablet traffic...although this of course will change over time.

I'll give you a nudge on here once it is up and running, I think you'll be impressed. Thanks again for your comments.


Alex Peters
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Death of Desktop
Alex Peters   12/12/2013 11:59:47 AM
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for so many interesting thoughts in reponse to the article. The idea behind this piece was to really get practitioners thinking about how we use devices and how this will change in the future - it's been fascinating to read some of the comments which have opened up some much bigger questions around how technology dominates our lives (both professionally and socially).

If anyone has any further points they'd like to discuss directly, please ping me a message on Linkedin or on Twitter.



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Re: Landline
Jim_E   12/11/2013 9:35:43 AM
Charles, I too have a landline, but am among the few that I know of.  I really like having it when the power goes out and I need to call the power company to report the outage.  Besides that, I don't use it too often beside ordering pizza from the local place down the road....

It is possible to keep your landline number and transfer it to Google voice.  It's not a straight forward process as the last time that I checked, you have to first transfer your number to a cheap pre-paid mobile phone, and then you can transfer it to Google voice.  My boss did this and now his old home phone number is transfered to his cell phone.


Elizabeth M
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Elizabeth M   12/11/2013 6:10:12 AM
That would be interesting, Chuck. I've long since stopped using a landline, unless it came bundled with an Internet package. And even in those cases I would forget I had it or barely use it, although sometimes it came in handy.

Charles Murray
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Charles Murray   12/10/2013 6:29:13 PM
I'd like to see statistics on the number of people who've dropped their landline, Ralphy Boy. People younger than me usually seem puzzled when I tell them I still have a landline, but I hesitate to disconnect because so many old friends still have the number. The downside of keeping it, though, is that a lot of telemarketers have the number, too.

Hellmut Kohlsdorf
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Re: The desktop, as we know it, may not go away, but might look a lot different
Hellmut Kohlsdorf   12/10/2013 6:50:37 AM
In general I do agrren with what you write, but...

Thanks to Edward Snowden finally here in Europe and definitly in Germany the activities of the NSA are forcing us to go a different way! US goverment officially declares that NSA is not subject to US laws outside the USA and to none US citizen! Industrial spionage is declared to be a valid acitvity of the USA!

This makes it impossible for none USA companies to use the cloud as many have been doing, because using it means that all IP information is available to their US competition!

Post desktop machines all have to rely on the cloud to perform and as aconsequence of the statement made before none US companies cannot use the cloud as required to benefit from the possibilities you write.

I myself have been skeptical to the new machines until I realized that my kids, all now grown up, have different schemes of using the Internet and related devices. So a change is compelling.

US companies in the future will have to start thinking about the threads to their IP when on the cloud! The US goverment declaring industrial spionage to be a valid objective of their intelligence infrastructure will have as a result that foreign goverments will correct the situation as it is now and do their own spionage activities in a scale comparable to that of US intelligence services. Rusia, China and who knows who else will heavily invest.

If you add to this the fact that the rest of the world is catching up making the USA resources relative to them smaller, the insecurity of IP in the cloud is obvious!

I remember while working for an US semiconductor company, strong in those days in smart cards, that for example the UK goverment demanded to have a back door entry build and made available to them at any encription containing product. That means that already on the silicon level security is not existent!

Europe, I guess, will finally invest in generating their own "internet Network Infrastructure" so that a "European Cloud", not ruled by US law will be established. Seriously, who believes that any system cannot be cracked!

So the bottom line of this comment is, that security is not given in the cloud and that putting IP, be it while researching or is it while developing produucts, is giving your IP away. I do not even want to imagine what the threads are for all of us when IoT is widely adopted!

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The desktop, as we know it, may not go away, but might look a lot different
sdoyle   12/9/2013 6:00:52 PM
I agree with many of the people posting that, as we currently stand, mobile devices are a long ways from replacing the desktop for anybody that needs large displays, high power performance or high power graphics.  I believe this will remain that way for a significant amount of time.

But before we blow up the statement that "the PC is doomed to extinction" as altogether ludicris, let's remember to look at the problems with the mobile devices and the solutions needed before a change towards mobile computing is a viable option.

The need for a large display.  Graphical programming languages, CAD, graphical imaging, anybody involved in computer animation and modeling of any sort, all require multi-monitor displays and high power graphics processing.  But that doesn't actually mean we need a desktop PC with multiple physical monitors.  Virtual displays, projection systems, and even pico-projectors are advancing pretty rapidly and it won't be too long before these types of devices shrink enough to be incorporated into laptops and eventually smaller devices.  A couple of links for these types of items;

Taking the screen and drivers for the screen off of the laptop and replacing it with a modular virtual display could solve the issue of screen size for a mobile device.  You'd have more "display inches" virtually than you could ever economically obtain with physical monitors.  Plus it would travel nicely.  Plug into an full-size projector when you need to collaborate with colleagues.  I think this needs to be able to be used more like a heads-up display than an all encompassing virtual world before it will go mainstream, but that's not too much of a stretch from where these are at already.

Or you could make the laptop contain a projector in itself and make any flat surface your monitor.  There are projectors that could soon be small enough to replace the screen and video drivers in a laptop: http://www.aaxatech.com/products/p4_pico_projector.htm.  This would be hard to use on a plane or in a terminal, but you still wouldn't need big physical displays in your office.

The need for an actual keyboard.  These supposedly don't work well, yet, but they're real.  They'll only improve or be replaced by the next leap in hardware technology. http://www.celluon.com/products.php.  

The need for an actual mouse.  As was shown here ond Design News, this mouse looks pretty mobile and useful: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mycestro/mycestrotm-the-next-generation-3d-mouse

And really, the mobile device really only needs to offer ports that you can plug in a mouse and a keyboard and you can use whatever mouse and keyboard you're currently using.

Processing and graphics power.  We currently have small portable computers, called smartphones, that have more processing and graphics powers than what was used to land on the moon.  That trend will only continue, along with the miniturization of components, at the accelerated pace we're seeing today.

Solid state HDD's will continue to replace spinning discs, increasing the "speed" of mobile devices and allowing large programs to operate.

Also, I think that the iPad and most tablets are currently designed to be a "toy" first and a "work-machine" second.  I just don't think anybody can currently do serious work on a regular basis on one of those machines without a valid reason (like you're located in a remote region).  The continued advancement of the above technologies could and likely will change the laptop first, and the tablets will follow as soon as they can fit it in the package size.  These types of technological advancements are what will allow something the size of a phone or tablet to do all the things that are currently only met by the desktop PC.

I know that gamers, designers, and programmers will typically continue to want faster and more powerful engines to drive the continually more power-hungry software that is developed.  Games and software continue to demand more power to operate properly and that will only be met by desktop PC's for the unknown future.  And people at Pixar and places doing animation and such graphic power hungry operations are not likely to be suited by a mobile device in my lifetime, if ever.  And these PC's can barely be considered desk-"top" machines as they are still typically too big to be on the desk top and ususally relegated to some under the desk space.

And people are already paying a premium for those machines that are designed and built for their particular high-performance purposes. http://www.sgi.com/  We also see that now with high-priced, over-clocked, water-cooled, etc., etc., "gamer" machines as well: http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/category/intel_pc/#SLI Gaming PC

So, based on the technology we have available now and the rapid advancement we're seeing, I think the average desktop PC user, and even a current-day "power user" will be able to replace that box with a much smaller and more mobile device in the not-so-distant future.  Leaving only the smaller populations that need/desire the truly high-performance machines and to stay clear of a cloud-based solution to require the "desktop" PC.


My $.02

Ralphy Boy
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Ralphy Boy   12/9/2013 5:02:10 PM
Agreed Chuck... There may be a place for desk tops for quite some time to come... I can't see doing much work in SolidWorks on a portable. Or anything else where seeing the big picture is so helpful.

But in the short time I've had a smart phone I've come to use it all but exclusively when at home. My land line net connection is gone, and if I really 'need' to use a larger screen and keyboard for browsing, paying bills, whatever... I wifi my laptop to the phone.


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