For those that insist that a PC is something that runs M$’s stuff, I will use “personal computer” throughout this post to mean some small computer that a person can own and use at home, at work, on the way to work etc. The world is awash with them. Some of them are somewhat specialized like the ones built into refrigerators but many are quite general-purpose, allowing people to find, create, modify and display information of any kind that can have a digital representation.
I have been using computers for decades and have seen them shrink from mega-dollar room-filling beasts (IBM 360) to gadgets the size of a man’s thumb. I have seen them speed up from millisecond clock-speeds to several gigaHertz. I have seen computers made from discrete components (IBM 1620), computers made from motherboards choked with integrated circuits to computers where everything is on one chip except the connectors.
Over the years, computers have gone from expensive engines only affordable by big business and universities to sub-$100 units that billions of people can afford. The tendency has definitely been towards smaller, cheaper and more mobile computers. That breaks the Wintel model of expensive boxes bundling expensive CPUs from Intel and expensive software-licences from M$, Wintel. No longer are personal computers the product of a few OEMs that Wintel puts on a leash to ship only M$’s OS. China has hundreds of OEMs large and small shipping small cheap computers running GNU/Linux and Android/Linux.
The price/performance of the new small cheap computers is definitely superior to Wintel for consumers, businesses and OEMs. Instead of sending half the price to M$ and Intel, OEMs love keeping the price to themselves. That changes everything and greatly reduced the power of Wintel. In fact, Wintel is clinging to a few niches as the life of Wintel depends on them: desktops in business and retail shelves in North America and Europe. The rest of the world has more choice.
As Cringely observes,
“What’s keeping us using desktops and even notebook, then, are corporate buying policies, hardware replacement cycles, and inertia.
How long before the PC as we knew it is dead? About five years I reckon, or 1.5 PC hardware replacement cycles.
Nearly all of us are on our next-to-last PC.”
Many small cheap computers can accept connections to a large monitor, keyboard mouse, and powerful servers able to do most tasks people need doing. It’s just a matter of time before the Wintel personal computer declines to a tiny niche. It’s just a matter of time before the Wintel monopoly is a memory.