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I have seen the future of personal computing: It isnít a Windows laptop
Posted on 27-Jan-2016 15:14 by Bill Bennett. | Tags Filed under: News.

Microsoft understands where personal computing is heading. So does Apple.

Only a handful of todayís computers matter1. None are Windows laptops. None are desktops.

They are:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book
  • Apple iPad Pro
  • Apple 2015 MacBook
Everything else is legacy computing, a clever clone of one of the above or specialist kit for  power users2.


All three3 represent evolutionary steps from the old PC model. They also represent a move from local processing towards a cloud, web and services model.

This last point is essential. The productivity bottleneck in old-style personal computing was running out of the headroom needed to run many local apps at the same time.

When, say, a new version of Microsoft Office appeared, there was a worry that existing hardware couldnít carry the extra load.

Everyday users donít care about those things any more.

Browser is king

Today a lot of apps run in the browser. Most apps are lightweight compared to the old behemoths. And, Iím thinking here of iOS, they can stay live in the background without chewing resources.

We use computers so different today that the old resource requirements donít make sense. They havenít been essential since the first netbooks arrived more than a decade ago.

Microsoft and Apple recognise this. Their response has been to pare back the personal computer to its essentials. Add a great display, long battery life and, in most cases, touch.

Most people in most jobs can achieve everything they need on one of these three computers. Before you write to tell me this is nonsense, ask yourself if your arguments are matters that concern mainstream users.


There are still hurdles. All these machines are expensive compared to mainstream PCs. Not everyone can afford the premium prices they command. I get that.

You might argue some of the devices I list are underpowered. Well, maybe, but weíre talking mainstream computing here. Itís been a generation since computers struggled to deliver the power I need for writing, publishing and trimming photos to size.

Some say ďyou canít do real workĒ on these devices. That maybe true for some given value of real work, but be realistic about what other people do on their computers.

Most of the critics canít get their head around the idea that for most people Microsoft Word is the most sophisticated app in their locker.

Iíve spent weeks at a time using each of a Surface Pro 4, 2015 MacBook and iPad Pro as my only computer. In each case there are either a few, minor things I canít do or that involve an uncomfortable compromise.

For the most part these problems were down to my unwillingness to change old habits. None of these were deal breakers. And Iím old. Iíve been using personal computers for 36 years. Young people will see these devices in a different light. Which is just as well. After all, they are going to live with the future of personal computing longer than I will.

  1. Weíre talking here about mainstream users. If youíre a gamer, a developer or a hard core geek these tools may not meet your needs, you are not typical. ?
  2. In theory PC makers like Lenovo, HP and Dell all have the ability to make decent Surface or Surface Book clones. ?
  3. Four if you think the Surface Book is distinct from the Surface Pro. ?

Filed under: Apple, Microsoft Tagged: IOS, MacBook, Surface

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