The strategy early on for M$ was to equate “personal computer” with a computer running their OS.
That’s all gone now. When a retailer like Wal-mart has the temerity to use a term like “Tablet PC”, they are going off-script. A search for “tablet pc” finds a mess of devices, none of which has M$’s OS although just poking around the menus does find 5. While the “talking points” of the trolls for M$ call tablets accessories to real PCs the mind-share is not there. The world of retailers and consumers sees them for what they are, small cheap computers, and consumers love them.
Quoting Bill Gates from 1999: “the PC will morph into many new forms, such as book-size “tablet PCs” but they’ll still be PCs underneath with all the benefits of the universal PC model.
That model will play a vital role in this new world of any time anywhere computing. The PC’s high-volume, low-cost approach will be adopted by many of the new smart devices because it offers amazing value to consumers. The cost of innovation is spread widely, so everyone benefits from billions of dollars of R&D. And the PC’s broadly accepted technical standards – and open Internet standard – mean that when you buy a new device, you’ll know it will function with your existing equipment. In this new “PC-plus” era connectivity will be king, and the PC model’s common standards will be more important than ever.
PCs gave the world a whole new way to work, play and communicate. The PC-plus era will be just as revolutionary. It will take the PC’s power and make it available almost anywhere, on devices that haven’t yet been dreamed up. Given my job, it’s hardly surprising that I’d say this. But I’m betting Microsoft’s future on it.”
Clearly, he envisioned tablets being PCs. He just did not understand that a PC could be without M$’s OS. M$ never understood small cheap computers. In 1997 Joachim Kempin wrote, “OEM division revenue growth over the last 8 years has depended heavily on volume increases and a trend to higher priced OS. During that time ASPs have stayed stable or have gone up which made it easier to ride the wave and get the value we deserve. We have shown larger then 40% growth rates annually and expect in the future that OEMs will take a very hard look in how to avoid paying us more $5 per system in order to hit most aggressive price points. Will this lead to signiï¬cant higher volumes and thus allow us to relax some prices while gaining share where we need it? The danger does exist that more PCs might get shipped without an OS and we should
not take this lightly!” He was worried about PCs costing less than $1K… His strategy was to increase unit sales by
- “1. Moderately more volume by ï¬nding new buyers who can now afford to buy PCs (This should be true for consumers as well as small biz)
- 2. Acceleration of replacement cycles (Knowing that 80M PCs cannot run NTW or WlN 98)
- 3. Shortening of PC “life time” in general
The only counter argument to make here is that current PC technology is totally sufï¬cient for most
office tasks and consumer desires and that any performance bottleneck is not in today’s PCs but
in today’s COM pipes. This in itself might slow down replacement cycles and life time shortening
until we ï¬nd true MIPS eating appIications – a priority not only INTEL should subscribe to.”
How’s that for morality, telling the world how great the product was while sabotaging it at the same time?
Memo to Bill in 1995: “My nightmare scenario is that the Web grows into a rich application platform in an operating system-neutral way, and then a company like Siemens or Matsushita comes out with a $500 â€œWebMachineâ€œ that attaches to a TV. This WebMachine will let the customer do all the cool lntemet stuff, plus manage home ï¬nances (all the storage is at the server side), and play games. When faced with the choice between a 5500 box (RlSC CPU, 4-8Mb RAM, no hard disk, …) and a $2KPentiurn/P6 Windows machine, the 2/3rds of homes that don’t have a PC may find the $500 machine pretty attractive!” (see discussion of this memo at The Register)
No, M$’s concept of a personal computer has always been of a small computer that many could afford with a hefty lump of cash for M$. They even fooled most of the people into accepting the definition of PC as a Wintel machine… Plamondon wrote, “”A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software.” This is the mission statement of Microsoft itself; it is the definition of the conditions under which Microsoft itself can declare overall victory.” They had their “victory” almost within reach about 2003-2005 but it’s slipping away now as they are no longer the goto platform on the only viable hardware on retail shelves. What took them decades to achieve has washed away in a few short years since the netbook with GNU/Linux on Intel and Android/Linux on ARM began to appear on retail shelves. Now everyone knows that other operating systems exist and no one needs M$’s blessing to use hardware they own.
At this rate, this year, I expect GNU/Linux to appear on retail shelves at my local Wal-mart.