does personal computing have a future?

Mark Cuban asks an interesting question over at blog maverick, what is the future of personal computing?

I have to ask if truly personal computing has any future?  to illustrate the point a few years ago my sister asked me what the Internet would be like in the future, not in a web 1.0 v web 2.0 kind of way but in a how we use it kind of way, and I thought about it for a moment and then said the Internet doesn’t have  a future. 

now before I get shot down in flames let me explain, what I meant was that the idea of the Internet as a place I go, somewhere I squirrel myself away at a console ( at the time playing Half-Life ) some ethereal  location I log into had no future, the future was web ubiquity.  

it’s nearly here, for the geeks at least, I’m almost permanently connected, whether through 3G on my SPV M3100, or via my BTOpenzone account, in fact I’m pretty much only disconnected when I want to be like here for instance. I don’t connect to the web I’m literally in the web.

So for personal computing (and I don’t believe it’s a straight Google v Microsoft  Battle) I Look to my recent experiences.

Mark talks about the power of consoles,  and I’ve recently joined the Xbox360 crowd,  I have to say the power of the thing is immense,  Xbox Live is fantastic and a really simple way of connecting to the world.

having been a PC gamer all my adult life I’m struck by just how easy and smooth the whole Xbox live experience is.

on my PC the process can be tortuous:

  • Install the game
  • download and install the patches
  • install teamspeak to chat to my buddies
  • install Xfire and or Gamespy to catch up with those same buddies
  • find a  server
  • log into that server
  • finally play the game.

even the boot process takes minutes

the Xbox live experience is :

  • pick up the controller
  • power on the  console
  • insert the game
  • connect to Xbox live, find the server  and I’m away.

patches are installed automatically and all is hunky dory I can be being sworn at by a teenage American in seconds.

no server crashes, if the gamer hosting the game leaves the game transfers to another console host without a flicker.

now this ease of connection also throws up a rich source of processor cycles, Gears of War is allegedly the first game that uses two of the three Xbox processors, I have to admin it’s pretty special for a console game. but it also illustrates that there are literally billions of unused processor cycles going begging, even when the gamer is playing another game.

the worlds biggest super computer in fact.

Now imagine something like windows home server technology being rolled out to all those boxes tied in with something like crashplan, and steam I don’t need massive personal storage at home, I have a huge vault I can store my data on – secure because it’s split across millions of partners, accessible because I can log into the live service anywhere and access it.

Now I don’t need apps, I rent them, and if I’m not using my own box maybe I can sell the processor cycles back to the corporate world, like I can sell surplus electricity to the national Grid here in the UK.

now that’s what I call the death knell for personal computing.


2 Responses to does personal computing have a future?

  1. […] in February I posted about the  future or lack thereof of the personal computer, prompted by Mark Cuban’s  musings (before he was consumed by his crusade against […]

  2. […] back in Feb I suggested the idea of a internetwork of connected gaming consoles ( Xbox 360 in my own thumb rending world) […]

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