updated 02:15 pm EDT, Sat August 20, 2011
Microsoft maintains PC not middle-aged yet
Microsoft's Corporate Communications VP Frank Shaw maintained his defense of Windows again with a response to the upheaval of the past few weeks. Trying once more to downplay "post-PC" talk, he argued that PCs not only had some core features that only they could do but that devices like the iPad were losing the advantage. Tablets were just "companions," and computers were "rapidly and dramatically" improving on what these and other mobile devices were doing, Shaw said.
Elaborating, he also maintained that there was a split between what mobile devices and PCs could do. Both could communicate with others and consume content, but only PCs were doing a good job of creating content and collaborating with others. Those last two tasks were "central to the idea" of a PC, Shaw contended.
The executive criticized journalists and accused them of creating a situation where tablets could only 'kill' the PC, not simply act as a complement. The majority of the devices were simply bolstering existing technology, not replacing it. PCs as such were not only alive but young and still had ample room to grow.
"While it's fun for the digerati to pronounce things dead, and declare we're post-PC, we think it's far more accurate to say that the 30-year-old PC isn't even middle aged yet, and about to take up snowboarding," according to Shaw.
The argument that PCs weren't being hurt carries ironic but possibly deliberate timing. HP, in axing its mobile devices and seriously contemplating quitting the PC business, specifically blamed tablets for wanting to get out of traditional computers. The company is currently the world's largest PC builder and, while it may sell off the division to a competitor, is expected to disrupt the PC industry if and when a sale happens.
Most industry analysts, including those at Gartner and IDC, directly attribute the iPad and other tablets for a shrinking PC market across the majority of Windows manufacturers.
Devices like the iPad do currently face limitations in creating content, although some of this has been attributed to performance and relatively young operating systems rather than limitations. Most of Microsoft's attempts to catch up are centered not on the present, like Shaw claims, but on the future. Windows 8 is designed to give Windows tablets a genuinely touch-native interface for the first time and will support ARM processors, potentially giving them the battery life and thin profiles that Windows tablets don't have right now. The OS won't be sent to manufacturers until at least April, however, and is leaving Microsoft without true competition for as much as a year.