Maybe we should buy two.. NOT..

I read today that maybe one of the failures of the PC market is the price of machines.

Traditionally, I have replaced my production PC every three years or so. This is why..

The 2003 PC ran XP very well, but in 2006, Vista was coming and it was promising to be a heavyweight, almost a deadweight. The 2006 PC was an AMD 3500, 4gb, nVidia n6600, later upgraded to dual core 4600.

When I moved, the 2003 PC had to be sited away from the cable router and I had to lay RJ45 cable across quite a distance because the machine didn’t like any Wi-fi adapter. The 2006 PC ran Vista well enough that I didn’t have the Vista problems that many had, but in 2010, I decided that I would run the upcoming Windows 7 in 8gb, and the 2006 PC maxed at 4gb.

So the 2006 PC became the second PC, it could run wireless which meant that I could dispense with the rather awkward cable, and I built a new PC which would hopefully see me beyond Windows 9, if only just..

I have spent less than $1000 on upgrading since 2003, and have two competent PCs, one running Windows 7 and one running Windows 8. The laptop and Netbook are not included because they were both gifts.

Do I need to upgrade again, my PC now being three years old? No, I don’t. It will run Windows 8 desktop because it is actually easier on the hardware than Windows 7 used to be.The applications are all desktop stuff, the latest being Office 2010, probably the last MS Office I will ever take on, and the rest is a collection of stuff amassed since 2003 which will run on one or more machines on the network.

So, you see that I have done what the PC industry hoped that everybody would do. At each OS, I upgraded.

OK. lets go back to pre-2003 days…

I have built my own computers since the day that one could buy the parts, and have helped others try to get the best from their computers. I was very quick to get onto the Internet, bulletin boards and CompuServe at the beginning, and as each OS appeared, I did what was needed to upgrade such that I could continue to support the new kid on the block. Had I not wanted to support others, I could have saved myself a lot of time and cash, but I enjoyed doing it and still do.

The above does not apply to the general computer user, only people like me and gamers who always hankered after the fastest combinations possible. So Windows 3.1, 95, 95 OSR2, 98, 98SE and Millennium would all run on a fairly decent 486 which was the pinnacle of home user PC’s up to 2000. The 486 lasted pretty much for eleven years, and the concept of a new machine at three years intervals was not known.

Windows 3/3.1 introduced a very simple way to access a computer with killer apps like Organiser and desktop publishing stuff, and the PC really started to take off. Windows 95, the biggest event ever in PC history since the introduction of the IBM PC took gaming to new levels, and the sales potential was huge.

In 2000, the Pentium P4 arrived which was a great base for Windows 2000 business workstations, and in 2001, Microsoft released XP, the first OS for the public which didn’t crash out weekly. XP was a culture shock though. It needed four times the power of Windows 9x, and there was resistance, but XP allowed for far greater things than its Windows 9x cousins, and people moved forwards.

There hasn’t been a quantum leap since the days of XP, only the SP2 service pack which cleaned it up quite nicely. XP was stable, fast and had some great software written for it. Also, Windows 9x software would run too, and those who upgraded their hardware for XP didn’t feel so bad..

So, what has killed off the PC hardware industry? Is it the strange ways of Windows 8, or is it Windows XP?

What will Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 do that XP can’t? It’s a very difficult question to answer convincingly, and is why so many stick with XP. Remember the eleven year hardware of the 90’s? Well after the hardware upgrade of 2001/2, the people were not expecting to have to upgrade for another eleven years.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if the hardware manufacturers released XP drivers for all new hardware, and Microsoft released the hold on the OEM BIOS chains, XP would still be the OS of choice for many years to come even though technically, Windows 7 is the better OS.

It doesn’t look like the gamble paid off for Microsoft or the major PC makers, and they must know it. The only way forward is to push a new way to deliver computing to the masses via mobile computing but look at the prices!! Sorry guys but $900 +  is a lot to pay for a frustratingly small machine that will not do more than the XP PC which it is supposed to replace.

If the average consumer is going to have to go tablet because their beloved XP breaks down completely, the cheap Android tablets are going to win hands down. Microsoft can only hope to get the cream who want the best at the current pricing levels. Unfortunately, Android is there too with some machines costing as much as $1400. I would like to know where the manufacturers think that people are going to get that kind of cash to spend on something that does no better than a machine which paid for itself long ago.

The premise that computers users would just keep paying out through the nose for new stuff was not a good one, and the same is going to happen to tablets. When everybody has one, what next? When the next round of tablets doesn’t offer anything more than the last, are people going to rush out and buy one?

PC users didn’t, certainly not enough to keep confidence in the industry..     

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