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Are desktop computers dead in mainstream computing?

Desktop computers as we know them have been around since the 80s and have served us well for all of our Internet browsing, email, gaming, word processing and printing needs. The issue with desktop computers is the upkeep and maintenance.

If you work with computers like I do, then you will hear questions about antivirus software, slow speeds and system updates from family and friends on quite a regular basis. People don’t need this headache and they also don’t need 99% of the features a PC offers. Lets say the average user does the following

– Browse the Internet
– Email
– Play the occasional game
– Basic word processing
– Transferring photos
– Printing

Things like tablets, smartphones and Chromebooks give a similar offering with a lot less admin. Now that Flash is finally dead and mobile has such a huge marketshare, sites are very optimised and mobile browsing can easily match desktop for speed and quality. All devices come with excellent built in email applications and you also have the option to download other apps or even just use the web interface through the browser.

Games are massively popular on tablets and mobile devices, and there is an enormous selection to choose from. The only drawback for more intricate games is the lack of tactile controls. This can easily be remedied with a bluetooth controller.

You can use office suites like Google Docs which offer almost everything the everyday user needs in terms of word processing, presentations and spreadsheets and its free. It also supports all Microsoft Office file formats and even has some nice extra features thrown in like collaborative working with other people.

Almost all devices now have the ability to transfer images either on to them or on to some kind of cloud based storage service. With new cameras this will not even be necessary as you can transfer them straight from the camera.

Viruses are also much less prevalent in the iOS and Android operating systems, which means you can stay protected at no extra annual costs. A lot of keeping your devices virus free comes down to common sense so they are still not foolproof.

Now the shift to tablet / Chromebooks not only will cost less and offer a simpler life, it will allow you to break free from having the computer sat in a corner of the room and allow you to work / browse / play anywhere.

Now some of these applications do require an Internet connection but we are only talking about replacing the Desktop PC and who doesn’t have some form of Internet in there house in this day and age? Throw in a wireless printer and you have all those features covered.

One big drawback some people see is the lack of a mouse and keyboard and this can take time to adjust to. I find the vibrating feedback from the onscreen keyboard makes it easier and of course its all routine and repetition. Before long you find that you can very accurately select things and type at a very fast pace.

The big players of the mainstream home computing are now Apple, Google and to an extent Microsoft with its surface series. In my mind the future of the desktop PC lies only with hardcore gamers and people who use their machines for business. This for me is just common sense, with new portable devices you get everything a desktop offers the average user with less hassle and some great little extras like having a camera and the ability to download software more safely through the app stores.

This not only has an impact on hardware sold but also on how we consume media. This change increases the importance of not only making your website accessible on mobile devices, but making it well optimised and easy to use. If you don’t have your own online presence and rely on comparison or review sites for traffic you have no control over that. The web is changing quickly and you never know when that traffic will dry up due to a change in user habits or a lack of development on that site.

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