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Microsoft minimizes tablets in 'PC-plus' era, IBM disagrees

updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed August 10, 2011

Microsoft downplays tablets in 30-year PC history

Microsoft's Corporate Communications VP Frank Shaw in a commentary on the 30th anniversary of the original IBM PC dismissed the talk of a post-PC era. He preferred to characterize it as a "PC-plus era," since there would be an estimated 400 million PCs sold around the world in 2011. Microsoft's response would be to largely stay the course, though he hinted at tighter hardware and software integration going on.

Shaw was cautious enough to leave the door open for change but assumed that Microsoft would still dictate technology for the next 30 years. "The past doesn't always predict the future, but let's just say it offers some strong clues," he said.

Cloud services weren't necessarily a danger to Microsoft's future, either, and could create a "whole new set" of chances for Microsoft to grow. The buyout of Skype was also likely to lead to some "killer Skype services" soon.

The remarks come even as evidence has been emerging of PCs slowing down. IDC estimates pegged spring computer growth at just 2.6 percent and have pinned it mostly on sluggish home adoption as a growing number put off or skipped PCs for tablets, primarily the iPad. Intel's continued record sales have been attributed mostly to sales being concentrated around fewer but more expensive chips.

Microsoft as a whole has been on the defensive ever since Apple CEO Steve Jobs began making remarks that it was a post-PC era. He still sees computers existing but as "trucks" to do the heavy lifting where most regular use would happen on simpler devices.

A counterpoint to Shaw ironically followed from IBM itself. Its Middle East and Africa CTO, Mark Dean, not only believed it was a post-PC era but said he had acted on it, making a non-PC tablet his main source of computing. He agreed that PCs would survive but that they were no longer the indicator of where technology was going, likening them to once-useful but now obsolete inventions.

"When I helped design the PC, I didn't think I'd live long enough to witness its decline," Dean said. "But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they're no longer at the leading edge of computing. They're going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs."

The executive went so far as to say IBM's selloff of its home PC business to Lenovo in 2005 was prescient. Most had considered it foolish, but it now looked to be a "vanguard of the post-PC era," he said. Shedding PCs had only helped, increasing profit margins and leading it to focus on solving larger problems like artificial intelligence and letting it succeed in services.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. cartoonspin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003


    Poor Microflop

    They ignored the mobile market, the tablet market and are clinging to the PC market. They truly refuse to change. Any company that stays the course and does not change will become obsolete very quickly. They teach that in Technology 101 class.

  1. neocyberdude

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2000



    I have an iMac, iPhone, iPad 2, and Apple TV (1st gen.) at home and a Dell laptop at work. At work, I'm on the computer a lot, but at home I find myself using the iPad and/or iPhone way more than the iMac. The only things I use the iMac for are getting pictures off my camera (to view on the iPad) and encoding movies (to view on the Apple TV). If I'm emailing, browsing the web, or playing games, I'm doing it on an iOS device. iOS 5 and iCloud will mean even less interaction with the iMac as I won't be plugging in to sync music or photos anymore.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2009


    stupid Microsoft, again

    check out and read Daniel's take on where Microsoft continues to reside. Shaw's comments only provide further support for Daniel's comments; Microsoft is stuck in the past with no idea where to go.

    article is a long read but take the time to read all of it.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002



    very good article. thanks for the link.


    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2009


    Post MS

    I think not only is the PC era over but also the MS era. The company while relevant in mainstream computing is going to disappear soon.

  1. glideslope

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Mar 2002



    Wow, desperate times in Redmond.

  1. freddymac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010



    Daniel Eran Dilger is great. RoughlyDrafted Magazine is a must read for any Mac user. I check it every day to read Daniel's work.

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