Tablets

Poll: Is the PC on the way out or is the tablet revolution a crock?

The TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog member poll: Is the PC on the way out or is the tablet revolution a crock?

This week we witnessed the first round in the battle of the executive Steves. In Steve Jobs proclaims the post-PC era has arrived, Apple's executive suggested that in the future we will be using tablets to do the work typical done on the PC now. While Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, in What tablets? Steve Ballmer sees a future with a lot more PCs, answered the tablet challenge with a declaration of his own, saying that the PC market is a growing and robust market.

I think that some of this seeming rift is really a matter of semantics, in that, what we define as a PC is really a moving target - whether you are talking about an Apple iPad, a Microsoft Kin, or a HP Notebook, you are still talking about a computing device.

Does the form factor really matter anymore? If three people are calculating their mortgage payments, one on a desktop PC, one on an Apple iPad, and one on a calculator, does it make a difference in the end what device they used? Can't they all exist and work effectively at the same time?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

163 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

Real Tablet PCs are the best combination and only idiots think that computers are going away.

MitigationElf
MitigationElf

Mark - I wish I had read the referred-to Steve Balmer article before I voted. You do nt explain things as Steve B does and really screw things up with your poll choices. Steve Balmer is absolutely correct. The PC will continue to grow and the form-factor (phone-computer, tablet, tablet conversion, UMC, net-book, laptop, table-top...) will not matter. I love my convertable tablet by HP (though the defective video card sux) AND I love my HP desktop Touchsmart - also fully touch enabled. My WindowsPhone 6.5 HTC stands in often when I need to quickly do a PowerPoint Presentation on the fly or edit a Word document and my tablet is not with me. I even use an iPod Touch - (which cannot connect to my tablet via bluetooth or do more than one thing at once )but that is ONLY until my favorite e-readers are available for my WindowsPhone (at which point it will be unceremoniously "retired"). Oh, and I can't forget my Zune HD - wish it had more applications but that will probably come with WindowsPhone 7.

dave
dave

I've lived through the late 80s and early 90s with the client/server revolution with those diskless clients. That didn't last. However there seems to be somewhat of a rebound with cloud computing but the clients are not diskless. Anyway let's wait 5 years and see where cloud computing ends up. We're seeing netbooks become a niche device now. Word processing, email access, etc in a small package seems to work fine. Multiscreen spreadsheets or multiple open applications not so easy. However external ports, ie. USB, are available. Tablets and PDAs are another evolving device. They have the limitations of netbooks in terms of what you can have open/viewing. Their lack of external connections puts them one down from a netbook as you have to have WiFi or a cellular connection. The size of that pipe now places restrictions as to how you move large files around since local storage is limited. Netbooks didn't replace PCs. Tablets won't replace PCs. They are another device that will fill a purpose. Until they can put all of the power of a PC, with enough connections, disk space, etc., into a tablet the PC will continue. Tablets and PDAs will fill a need but not replace anything for years. I don't let anyone in jeans, dockers or a suit tell me how to run my business and treat my customers so I won't let them tell me what type of computing platform to run my business on. Like others above, I like to know what is under the hood and NOT to blindly trust someone's vision today as they will be changing it next week.

dukethepcdr
dukethepcdr

Tablets are terrible. They are severely limited in what they can do. They are very expensive considering this. They are really no more portable than a laptop if you get one that is actually big enough to type on and to have a screen big enough to really see anything on. The touch screen, while a neat-o gadget, is a pain in the neck to actually use on a regular basis. Unless you wear gloves or carry a lint-free cloth everywhere you go, your screen becomes smeared and blurry under a coating of fingerprints in a matter of minutes. If the oil from your skin gets bad enough on the screen, it won't even recognize a touch anymore. You could also use a stylus, but then you have to fumble with that too. Also have to try not to lose it. Touch screens and styli are okay for game systems like the DS, but give me an actual keyboard and mouse for getting serious work done. Typing with my fingernail or a stylus one key at a time is too tedious for me. I can barely stand to send a short one or two sentence text from my phone. My latest phone has some touch sensitive buttons on it too. Thank goodness almost all of them have keypad options too. Sometimes the touch sensitive controls drive me nuts! These tablets look so fragile too. A friend let me use his and I was scared to death that I would drop it and see its screen crack or see the flimsy gizmo fly into a dozen pieces that I sat it down on a table to use it. Finally, as a repair tech, I am not looking forward to the day when someone asks me to fix or try to upgrade their tablet. Those things look even harder to open and work on than a laptop. They are so thin and practically glued together that it's probably a nightmare to get one open without breaking it.

loccrash1big
loccrash1big

We need more power captain! I afraid that the "big PC" users will sustain the market just because they can plug into 120 volts. Some gamers now, are making the neighbors lights dim. Do that with a smart phone. We want to go faster...and we will. As long as there is the power to do so.

mysterchr
mysterchr

Tablets are small and mobile, which make them more likely to take over for mobile computing devices. Perhaps even more like a star trek thing where instead of using clip boareds people carry tablets. However I don't see someone sitting down with four gigs of ram 1028mb video card and playing Call of Duty anytime soon. I know that's more of the sterotypical gamer that I just described but typically gamers are the hardcore IT leaders. and as long as our leaders are still using PC's everyone else will follow through. Personally I don't even see a need to have an Ipad as I already own an Ipod which is simply a smaller more mobile version of the ipad. And that's what people want. The more they can do on the go the happier they are. Today's society is a constantly moving mass that doesn't have time to slow down, they want computing devices that will keep up with them on the go and be easier to carry. But they will always have the need for the desktop PC. Desktop's all though larger are much more powerful and interchangeable then the Ipad's.

bobwinners
bobwinners

When I can type (or dictate perfectly) a letter at 60 characters per minute on a tablet, when I can massage a spread sheet on a tablet with ease, when I can store 1 TB on a tablet, etc... then the PC will be gone.

amado.puentes
amado.puentes

The PC will evolve into a very different look and feel as new technologies are developed, but it will never become obsolete to the smaller computing devices. For example the need for monitors are evolving to laser projection on the air under any environmental conditions. There will always be the need for a larger visualization of your work.

jljacobsen
jljacobsen

It's personal preference; there's room for all. I have a desktop, a tablet, and a smart phone. I use the tool I need to get the job done.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

I haven't had time to read all the comments here, so if someone else mentioned this (highly likely) then just count me in as being in agreement... but tablets, for all they CAN do, cannot do enough to topple the desktop PC, or even the laptop, as we know it. There are simply too many applications that either would be too unweildy on a tablet or would require more horsepower than any tablet in the forseeable future can muster up. IMO, if tablets survive the initial fad-like surge in the beginning, they will simply be a companion to PC's or at least an alternative for those who need something in between a laptop and a desktop PC. I welcome tablets as a new addition to the tech world, but the idea that they will or ever could replace the PC...? Only the Temple of Jobs and it's fanboy congregation could be THAT delusional.

dl
dl

Once again the PC writers demonstrate the irresponsibility of their genre with another addle-brained "poll." Any responsible journalist would realize that any predictions about tablets replacing PCs is way to premature. Let's see, the Apple iPad has been around now for about 6 weeks. That's plenty of time to figure out the future of PCs and tablets -- and project whether tablets will replace PCs (sarcasm dripping like crazy). This is yet another silly "poll" that serves no purpose.

rgeiken
rgeiken

I have PCs and I pods, no Tablets yet, and as far as I can see that is the way it will be for me in the future. If people see a need for Tablets, they are welcome to them, but I want to have something that is likely a lot more powerful. For me personally, Tablets=Toy!!!!

kandyass
kandyass

I'm not going to read the other posts, or even the article beyond the title. The pad is not going to usurp the standard keyboard+pointer+monitor in every use case. In the not so distant future I could see the standard keyboard+mouse being replaced by something, but not a touch screen that's for sure. The iPad is 90% iHype, and 10% iPhone, an admirable business accomplishment for apple's marketing machine, but not that revolutionary.

pikeman666
pikeman666

Nothing is "on it's way out". Why is this such a black and white issue with you people? What we'll see is more choices. Some will succeed and some will fail economically. I find the iPad intriguing but will not subsidize Job's argument with Adobe, no matter how screwed-up they are.

k.schank
k.schank

The right answer isn't "both", but is "neither". The PC is NOT on the way out and tablets are NOT a crock. As in all things in IT, it depends on the user's needs and requirements. Both PCs and tablets are needed for various users for various purposes. There will be plenty of room in the industry for both.

renodogs
renodogs

Funny. I wonder where the gear boy will wear this one? Next to the Iphone Bluetooth attachment, Sony Walkman, his Batman gadget belt, etc. I just want to point my finger and laugh at the jackass that has this crap on. Stupidity knows no bounds. Neither does Gear Boy.

Obsidianite
Obsidianite

There will always be a market for high end PCs. What do you call a bunch of hardcore gamers and multimedia companies who extensively use CAD based softwares on rendering farms? Why are millions spent each year researching latest discrete components for PCs? I'll buy a high end tablet when it can do all the "real" work as well as just be a flashy toy which can run some flashy apps, play movies and maybe surf the net. Till then, PCs rule.

cbw5005
cbw5005

If I'm not mistaken, tablets have been used in hospitals and alike for some time now. The iPad was just a more consumer focused device. As stated earlier, the iPad (and other soon to be released tablets) fills a niche. What advantage does a tablet have over a netbook? Okay, touchscreen, point for tablet... I think the list ends there. At the end of the day you get the same mobility, better performance, more efficient UI a better "bang for your buck" with a Tablet. So to answer the poll question, no, the tablet is not wave of the future, now mount a keyboard to the back that folds out (kind of like that Motorola phone) and you've got yourself some potential. I think of the iPad as Apples netbook.

deICERAY
deICERAY

Tablets? Take two in the morning and pray they last through the day. It breaks, it's a paperweight. The two I know of simply died in their owner's hands. At least I can repair/service my PC. I'll stick with what I can take apart and put back together.

eric2820
eric2820

From my perspective (as a father of two children), the tablet is a content delivery platform, while the PC (or Mac) is a content creation platform. I don't see PC's (or Mac's) going away just because Apple is on track to sell 10 million iPad's this year. There are more than 10 million children around the world, and I think that they are the real market for the iPad. Sure a few adults are trying to see if the iPad can replace their laptop, but that's in no way the majority of the salesl

CAH
CAH

I thought the Palm/Citrix/smart-phone/Web-OS had each already "killed" the PC. Maybe some of these pundits were over-hyping a little? In any case, I'm sure *this* time the coffin is really nailed shut-- no hype here!

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

I swear to God that some people who write about technology are either high school dropouts or closet luddites. The PC (desktop and laptops) and tablets are two completely different animals that happen to share hardware commonalities. They can substitute for each other in a pinch; but the ergonomic differences in their use precludes their ever replacing each other for normal use. Tablets do not have the screen acreage a PC can provide. Focal orientation of a tablet versus hand position for operation will either give you a stiff neck or stiff shoulders and carpel tunnel after long use. Obviously a desktop can't be carried around in the field. And most desktops, and some laptops, have a plethora of external devices that a tablet dispenses with. PCs do better with pointing devices than tablets do. Let's face it, an index finger isn't as accurate as a sharp-tipped cursor; and it's at least one additional command to enlarge a view to point to the part you're interested in on a tablet. I can build my PC myself. I haven't seen anyone building their own tablets, much less doing upgrades and writing about it.

Ian Thurston
Ian Thurston

Spare us these "straw man" polls, would you? More fun although equally useless would be to ask "who's going to come up with the next 'revolution' first, Ballmer or Jobs?" Frankly, both Steves should be required to switch places every few months. Now THAT would be fun.

egmccann
egmccann

More hot air blowing because of the "(sort of)newest hot thing." Will tablet PCs find a niche? Sure. Will they replace a desktop Pc? Well, try doing CAD (not just minor adjustments) on a tablet. Try doing 8-12 hours of data entry (typing in credit card forms, for instance, over the holidays) on a tablet. Sound fun? (OK, doesn't sound fun to begin with. It sounds less so to me when "doing it on a tablet" is added.) My home PCs are my work machines. My home PCs are my gaming PCs. My home PCs are my media centers - I *like* being able to sit across the room and watch a movie or recorded TV with good sound. Can a tablet fit into this environment? Absolutely! Can it replace the PC? No. Desktop PCs have their place. Notebooks have their place. Smartphones have their place. And tablets are going to have a place as well, where they fit a portability and size need - bigger than a smartphone, differently portable/usable than a notebook Very rarely does one "revolution" completely replace another. Optical mice? Sure. Tablets or notebooks replacing desktop PCs? No. The industry and the media have to stop presenting this sort of thing as an "either or" choice, as that is completely unrealistic and serves nobody (except those counting pageviews.)

raleighrealtor
raleighrealtor

Here's what the desktop PC has that the tablet or iPad will never have . . . a large screen monitor.

monkeywrenchit
monkeywrenchit

the pc is all about choice. Mobile devices will be come more prevelant is money gets tighter and phones get smarter, but the iPad is a luxury toy. I wont be buying any Apple products because I like to make my own choices, not what Steve Jobs tells me is what i want.

lc3doraeme
lc3doraeme

Everything is subject to change, and technology is getting smaller and more powerful, the future will phase out both through Micro and Quantum. LC3.

El Miguelo
El Miguelo

What about the 'Capsule' just like a 'Tablet' but gets into the system faster.

tazin8r
tazin8r

I think that for many years to come, there will still be a need for the desktop PC (which is what I think Steve Balmer was talking about). While I'm excitede by the future of tablets as a form, at the moment the tablet (and I'm talking the iPad specifically) is no where near what is needed to replace PCs as a buisiness tool.

mrfrodo_38
mrfrodo_38

Why would you pay ?700 in the UK or $700 in the US for a device which is not a business tool and is only good for media type files and is in effect a glorified phone. I think it is a lot of hot air from Steve Jobs who clearly thinks that we are all morons and don't realise that he wants to sell more products.

Contradiction
Contradiction

When presenting the iPad for the first time, Steve Jobs said that this was the best device, to view photos, watch videos, listen to music, read books, read email, browse the web. If you think about it, these are the six things that most people do every day on their computers. Yes, people use other programs too, and that's why we have a 200.000 application database on the App store, and yes maybe those 200.000 applications can't cover your daily computer needs. But sure as hell, with such a humongous app database, you're pretty damn close to a PC capable tablet! I agree with Steve Jobs. The PC is slowly but surely abandoning homes, because is no longer needed. I no longer turn on my laptop to do any of these six things. I have my iPhone and my iPad. And Steve Ballmer is panicking. And if he's not, then he should be. Microsoft might be high on the OS game, but right now they seem to be the old, rusty and tired company, and Apple is the young, energetic, cutting edge one. However this battle turns out, I can only see benefits for us. The little people :) (Can't wait for the new iPhone today!)

lastchip
lastchip

Watch a skilled touch typist at work and then tell me the PC is on its way out! All those millions of people at work every day, are suddenly going to have a tablet on their lap, typing on a screen with their necks permanently kinked downwards. Designers are going to create complex engineering models on a small screen - I hope you've got a large budget for spectacles. Imagine, your next car was designed on an ipad! And that's not even mentioning the very limited power and storage of these devices and value for money, in which it fails miserably. Come on; get real!

yobtaf
yobtaf

PCs are already old technology and besides, the vast majority of users don't know how to maintain one anyway. It's called progress. Something new is always around corner. Those who don't want to see it will be run over by it.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

... alienating another reader - I am not saying anything about the subject at all. I am merely reporting what Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer each claim is the future and asking for your opinion on which is correct - or perhaps whether both are incorrect. Perhaps it would help if you read what you criticize before you comment.

ltreachler
ltreachler

i-phones, i-pads, i-anythings all suck, and here's why. The user is not in control of the power. Apple is the company that started this trend toward not being in control of the battery, and this falls directly into the hands of the battery lobby in this country. The people who can't compete fairly, so they get import restrictions on truly innovative power solutions, and we are forced to buy expensive non-rechargable garbage, or expensive rechargables with a different form factor for every device. In Japan, they have many options for powering their devices, but our (U.S.) companies don't/can't compete, so we are restricted from taking advantage of these solutions. I might buy a tablet device or such if I could also get a power solution that would last me a month or so. They're out there, just not for U.S. consumers. We have landfills that need toxifying with tech more obsolete than buggy whips.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

I had a 20-inch video monitor early on, and now I'm running dual 19" monitors. Sometimes even that isn't enough. I can also type 50 words a minute on the keyboard. There's no way that's going to happen on a tablet, either. So the idea that a 6" or 8" touch-screen on a tablet would replace the desktop PC is preposterous. It ranks right up there with the idiots in the '60s who told us that nuclear power would be "the electricity that's too cheap to meter. Atomic power will be so plentiful that it won't be worth the effort to read the meters."

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I suspect we'll see integrated projectors one day. I don't know about one on an iPad; it would cut into the precious battery life, which seems to be all-important to some.

Jymbul
Jymbul

Like Flash for instance ;o)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Steve Jobs said that this was the best device, to view photos, watch videos, listen to music, read books, read email, browse the web." Of those, I only read e-mail and browse the web. Even if there are WYSIWYG web editors, spreadsheets, and fantasy league management apps for tablets, I'm still going to prefer doing that work on a full-sized keyboard and screen. My preference, my hardware. I notice Steve didn't mention playing games, something I suspect more people do with their computers than reading books.

dougogd
dougogd

been out for years. If I get a PC or equivalent I want the latest video the latest processor the latest sound card out of the box. What does the ipad have? Not that If you look at the actual specs you will find the tech is over 10 years old. The only difference is the fact they made is battery friendly. sorry i don't use batteries on a pc or a laptop. If i use them they are plugged in. with a keyboard and mouse plugged in.

dougogd
dougogd

same price and see which one is low tech. I think you will find the laptop is. You can always get better components for a PC than you can get for a laptop. When you get a laptop your upgrades are extremely limited if not totally impossible. A desktop you can replace your video hard drive sound DVD or CD drives whichever you prefer. A laptop you might be able to replace the drives if they fail but can you upgrade them. Most you cannot. Can you replace your video card I doubt it. can you replace you sound card no. You are locked in to the low tech devices that were supplied with your laptop when you bought it. Now reevaluate and tell me which is low tech?

melias
melias

and my washing machine, dishwasher, micro-wave oven, watch, clock, etc... It's not about being new, or being cool or even next-gen. It's about getting the job/jobs done. I cannot run a sophisticated, high-resource app on a tablet or smart phone. Especially with other apps running. Besides, IMHO, Steve from Apple was not stating what he thought was the future of computing; he was/is trying to influence the future of computing. "Something new is always around corner. Those who don't want to see it will be run over by it." But if you don't keep an eye on what is already here, you may be ran over as well. After all, 'it's the truck already on the road that will probably kill you, not the one still in the factory.' BTW, I do not dislike new technology. I enjoy new tech very much, as long as it serves a function I need at a price I am willing to pay. Most Apple devices fail at least one of these criteria. Many fail both.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that there are so many apps available to use mobile devices to remotely access desktop systems. Why do you suppose so many people want to connect their new progressive devices to those old technologies? I use lots of tools daily that I don't know how to maintain; I'll bet you do too. I don't think a working knowledge of a device's maintenance is necessary to operate it effectively. Few pilots can maintain their aircraft. None of the 'on air' talent at Food Network could repair an oven or gas range. I doubt Steve Jobs could replace the battery in his iPad.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But discarding old technology just because it's old technology is not necessarily for the best. After all, cars are already old technology and besides, the vast majority of drivers don't know how to maintain one anyway.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

For those who said that, there was at least the possibility they could have been correct. But the inexpensive and efficient method for waste disposal never materialized, and then that environmental thing got in the way... :) I'll agree with you on screen size. I have enough trouble reading the 14" on the laptop. I can't imagine trying to work on even a 10" display.

smcclelland3
smcclelland3

Gates predicted tablets during the nineties with "The Road Ahead", and here they are. And they will always be perfect for quick exhange of information, and completely inadequate for work. Old Baritone is right.

wwgorman
wwgorman

Look, I have repaired both desktops and laptops and even worked on the mother boards of both. I regularly change hard drives in my three computers. That's not the point of the discussion which is: Are tablets the new wave of the future and killing off desktop and laptop computers? I think desktops and laptops and Netbooks are here to stay but I think the tablet will finally wash away the PDA's which were under designed from the start.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

if you want good sound from a desktop or a laptop, you have to use an add on card Laptops just like in desktops the integrated sound chips are usually garbage for anything other than regular system event / web noises but you can get a good Quality Audio Card for both that goes into a PCI or PCI-e slot (Desktop) or the PCMCIA or Express Card slot (Laptop)

gueibor
gueibor

...Many fail both." - Where can I sign that?

DNSB
DNSB

And most users don't care to know how to maintain their computers. Just as with their car, most people want a "professional" mechanic to take care of any problems, they want a "professional" geek to take care of any problems with their computer. I'm not complaining since that attitude has keep me employed for quite a while now. Nothing like playing with your favourite toys and being paid to do so.

yobtaf
yobtaf

South Carolina....... it figures.

dougogd
dougogd

will use them. But they need to make the display suitable for everyone that will take work or perhaps some kind of glasses that you wear for viewing the display. Just a thought. But they will have to greatly increase the power and storage options for many people.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

maybe one day we'll have one bright enough to see in daylight. Heck, most current displays aren't worth much in the sun. My point was that technology is advancing too quickly to use a word like 'never' with any degree of confidence.

dougogd
dougogd

say that you are not allowed to upgrade it but when you try you find out there is no place to put the upgrade components.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not implying USB is superior, only that options for sound upgrades on laptops are becoming limited.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

but a laptop equipped for "on the road" recording, needs good sound chips and the best way to get that is not USB but in an PC-Express or PCMCIA / cardbus card these slots have already almost completely disappeared from low end laptop / notebooks but will not from the higher end systems for quite some time. it really sucks when someone walks by your recording table and for whatever reason, the USB plug from your USB audio interface gets knocked out of the port (I've seen it happen with many different USB devices) which can't happen with a PC-Express / PCMCIA card, as they have proper locking mechanisms.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

aren't an option with most tablet form factors. I expect them to disappear from laptops in the next two or three years, replaced by USB.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I think it's great that I get paid to play.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

that doesn't consider the political boundary of the state line to also be an intellectual boundary. ;)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

how much of those 364K aren't covered by snow eight months out of the year? :D Oh, and you forgot to convert robertmro's home of Rhode Island: a mere 1045 sq. mi.

DNSB
DNSB

Well, when the majority of your states are so tiny... Hmm.. area of current residence: 364,764 square miles. Area of territory of birth: 1,186,048 square miles. Now split into two territories of 440,000 and 746,048 square miles. Area of South Carolina: 31,189 square miles. My apologies if I committed any errors in coverting square kilometres to square miles.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

What does the state where I currently live have to do with anything? Should I now imply that some allow their intellect to be limited by the size of the state they live in?