PC’s Future

Business Week has a special report on tomorrow’s PC. Four key changes it identifies are:

– The Cooler, Faster Computer

– Redefining the Computer: “As devices with PC-like capabilities proliferate, they’ll increasingly specialize in such tasks as playing digital music and movies and handling Internet communications. As that happens, makers of PCs or consumer electronics may end up catering more to niche markets with devices that are similar inside but look wildly different on the outside. The spread of these niche devices has already started in the examples above of PCs that don’t look like PCs and other systems.”

– The Network Becomes the Computer: “The upshot is that consumers at home and businesspeople on the road will soon be able to get a fast signal almost anywhere. That will make it possible for them to do things that now require a PC without one — since every terminal will become their personal PC. They could plug their PDA into a jack and grab all the data they need from their home PC 2,500 miles away — just as corporations have been doing for some time with network drives and centralized mail servers.”

– Storage, Storage Everywhere

A related story looks at Linux’s growing use:

Each organization has its own reason for moving to Linux — the software with core code that’s open for all to see and adapt. For Dr. Echt, it’s a question of lower price and long-term flexibility. In China, the government claims national security as a reason to move to open-source code, which it trusts because, unlike with Microsoft’s proprietary code, it permits engineers to make sure there are no security leaks and no spyware installed by wily foreigners.

In Munich, the move was largely a political gambit to break Microsoft’s lock on the desktop market: “With this trend-setting decision, Munich secures itself as the first major city to have a major portion of its IT infrastructure be supplier-independent. [It] also sets a clear indication of more competition in the software market,” crowed Mayor Christian Ude at the city announcement in May.

A shift to Linux desktops, particularly by governments (which market researcher IDC says account for 10% of technology spending), could slow growth in the battered PC business, since Linux requires less powerful — read lower-price — PCs. “I think we’re finally succeeding at commoditizing the desktop,” says Bruce Perens, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.