Is the Desktop Dead?

Sounding the desktop death knell as mobile devices edge them out of the market

In the past, a cost chasm separated the laptops from the desktop. Mobility, it seemed, came at a price. Businesses opted to buy the more pricy laptops for those who needed it most, furnishing the rest with the more reasonably priced desktops. The dropping prices of laptops reduced the gap in price to a mere $50. A mere $50 it seems, that most companies are finding it easier to justify.

It’s not just the competitive pricing that’s contributing to the untimely demise of the desktop; a growing trend to bring your own device to work (BYOD) has seen companies save on hardware costs as employees prefer to utilize their own devices instead of the trusty old desktop. Cloud technology provides centralized functionality that helps to promote the use of personal devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

This year’s sales figures reflect the changing landscape with laptops taking 68% of the market, up from previous years which saw a more even 50/50 split. There are several inherent advantages to owning a laptop:

  • Mobility: the smaller, thinner and lighter the laptop gets, the more portable they become
  • They take up less desk space
  • Increased productivity as employees are able to take them home to work
  • Negates the need to work late at the office which increases employee satisfaction
  • Telecommuting is possible as the employee does not need a computer at home and at the office

The laptop is not the only device that is giving the desktop a run for its money. Tablet sales increased by 150% over the last quarter, making it one of the fastest growing hardware markets in the business. Microsoft will be developing Office applications for the iPad which will bolster support for this emerging technology. Cloud technology negates the need for large software purchases or large volumes of information to be stored in giant desktop hard drives.

It’s not only the emerging technologies that threaten the denizens of the desk; it’s also their old nemesis, the Apple Mac. Apple Mac sales have increased by 20.7% while desktop sales dropped by 5.9% overall. This means that Apple managed to take a large bite out of the PC pie. Those who love their desktops need not fear. The good old desktop isn’t dead just yet. It still has its advantages over the new devices which include:

  • Large screens which are important for those who spend lots of time on the computer and like to see all the little details
  • Ergonomics; good office chairs and desktops are far more comfortable than hunching over a laptop
  • Storage on a desktop can’t be beat
  • Typing on a real keyboard is much easier than a laptop’s often cramped keyboard can afford

It seems the days of the desktop dominance are numbered, so enjoy them while you can.

Microsoft develops Office Suite for iPad

If you can’t beat them, join them; Microsoft gets a piece of the Apple pie

Microsoft is developing a version of its Office 8 interface for Apple’s iPad. Originally slated for exclusive use on Microsoft’s own Windows 8 tablets (due for release later this year), Microsoft has bowed to Apple’s dominance of the tablet market, wishing instead to get in on Apple’s 80% share of the tablet pie.

Office Suite programs we all know and love such as Word, Power Point and Excel will be available for iPad for as little as $10 each. Although fairly ground-breaking, this won’t be the first time Microsoft has developed for Apple’s App Store which already stocks such stalwarts as MSN Onit, MSN Onpoint and the Bing App.

When Microsoft executive Stephen Elop claimed that Microsoft had no intention of bringing its Office Suite to the iPad in 2010, he could scarcely have guessed the extent to which the iPad would take a commanding lead in the market. Had Microsoft’s tablet been available for release sooner, they might have stood more of a chance against the iPad.

Perhaps it was the focus on the Courier, Microsoft’s version of a tablet that was unceremoniously dropped in early 2010, that slowed Microsoft’s tablet development. Whatever the reason, the slated 2012 release of their Windows 8 tablet is ‘too little too late’ experts say. JP Gownder of Forrester claims that; “On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. Product strategists often look to be “fast followers” in their product markets… For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower.”

There are many tablets on the market to rival Microsoft’s new addition including the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and the Blackberry PlayBook. Since these tablets have been around for a while, they will be already into their third generation by the time Microsoft launches its Windows 8 tablet.

One can well understand Microsoft’s reticence to throw its towel in with the iPad platform; combining the more familiar MS Office with the dominance that iPad has of the tablet industry will make it less likely that users will buy the new Microsoft Windows 8 tablet when it makes its debut later this year.

With over $15 billion in 2011 earnings, the new iPad platform will help to grow Microsoft’s market share and test the tepid waters of the tablet market.

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