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Rory Cellan-Jones

Two days in PC World

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 29 Oct 08, 10:25 GMT

I've just spent a couple of days in a strange country - let's call it PC World, though it has nothing to do with the store of that name.

Slogan It has 6,000 inhabitants who at 0800 march into a vast hall for a breakfast organised with military precision. Then at 0845 they all march into another gigantic room to hear inspirational speeches. The rest of their day is occupied attending more educational sessions, though a lot of their time seems to be spent just staring at their laptops. Who are they? Well the clue is in the slogan many sport on those laptops and their t-shirts - "I'm a PC".

This is Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference - quite possibly the geekiest event I've ever attended - and you would struggle to find a collection of people more devoted to the world of Windows. Some are Microsoft employees, the rest are developers who've paid to come here and learn about everything from Windows Azure to "Parallel Programming for C++ Developers in the next version of Microsoft Visual Studio." Sorry, that was one session I missed.

It's the kind of place where if a speaker announces he is going to do some live coding on stage, he's met with a smattering of applause rather than a rush for the exits. These speakers range in quality from the mildly inspired to the deadly, and those from Microsoft sport a variety of extraordinary titles. I loved "Director of Platform Strategy in Developer and Platform Evangelism." The audience is mostly quietly enthusiastic, sometimes cheering "awesome" new software features - the loudest applause was for a Tesco executive presenting a new online shopping application hosted in the cloud. But there's not quite the revivalist meeting atmosphere of a Steve Jobs keynote.

Mac and PCThis is also a crowd that has faced intense - and perhaps unfair - mockery over recent months, as the butt of all those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" adverts. They know they're not cool. But guess what? I don't think they care, and they may be a more tolerant group than the more fanatical members of the Apple crowd.

At this totally PC conference, there was a surprising number of Macs on show - mainly in the media room but also in some developers' hands. But nobody seemed to mind. I'm not sure you would get the same reaction if you walked into MacWorld sporting a Dell.

Many of the innovations unveiled here - from Windows 7, to Azure and the Office web products - appear to show Microsoft following trends rather than leading. Multi-touch on Windows 7? First, seen on the iPhone. Online documents? Google Docs has been around for a while. Azure? As Ray Ozzie conceded, Amazon has a head start in the cloud.

But then a Microsoft internal blogger showed me two products - the 3-d photo mosaic service Photosynth and Worldwide Telescope which allows you to explore the stars. Both the products and the blogger were very impressive. Microsoft is a bureaucratic, sometimes overbearing, often unimaginative company. But it is still home to some smart, creative people, full of enthusiasm about the possibilities that software can offer. All it needs to do now is convince us that it really is cool to be PC.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Rory, it's never been about being cool its about getting stuff done. That's what matters.

    Im also not surprised at the number of Macs given it's just another X86 platform. I think you might also want to look at multi touch a bit closer to see where the innovation really came from.

  • Comment number 2.

    "the loudest applause was for a Tesco executive presenting a new online shopping application hosted in cloud"

    I'm struggling to think of what this could be apart from just Tesco online - hosted on the azure system. That doesn't seem so "amazing"

  • Comment number 3.

    "All it needs to do now is convince us that it really is cool to be PC."

    It is cool to be a PC, just not a Windows PC. Linux is the way to go on PC (as many have done since the release of Vista), and i think it's going to be hard to get the people back who 'left' for Linux and Mac.

    I don't think all the star-gazing programs in the world can undo that...

  • Comment number 4.

    "Rory, it's never been about being cool its about getting stuff done. That's what matters."

    And that's the reason why Apple, Ubuntu and all other OS's are making massive inroads into Micro$ofts' hegemony. Be more productive, and don't waste your CPU cycles on virus scans and malware sniffers etc.

    The fact that Apple products are cool as well as massively productive is a happy coincidence, and a lot of that has to do with a certain Briton called Jonathan Ive:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Ive

    And what does this 'Windows 7' tell us about Vista? It is a disaster.

  • Comment number 5.

    My MacBook can quite happily run Windows XP in parallel with my OS X...I've even been known to run Kubuntu alongside the both of them. So why shouldnt they be seen at a PC conference? I know quite a few people who develop Windows software on their Macs.

    I find the majority of Mac users use them because they do what they want them to do. Cool has very little to do with it.

  • Comment number 6.

    @twelveightyone

    Massive inroads?

    *Looks at OS user stats*

    My word. What a vivid imagination you have.

    I use Windows Vista x64 because it's solid, quick and reliable. It works for me so I don't give a hoot what anyone else thinks. That said, despite the negative PR it seems millions agree with me.

    One should use the tools that suit one's individual circumstances. I know I do.

  • Comment number 7.

    "one should use the tools that suit one's individual circumstances"

    I couldn't agree more. As much as people complain about windows it has the market absolutley dominated (91% of OS in use) at the moment. Why should i bother getting any mac when, especially in the current economic climate, they offer less functions and cost more than any equivalent pc/laptop. So what if has viruses/malware? It works 99% of the time, which is when i need it!

    I already use Linux some of the time, but it doesn't work well with my pc games!

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't have a very good relationsip with Macs... I just like PC's and I always have done. A lot of my friend who do coding use me as a Beta as I tend to break everything in some weird and obscure way in 5 minutes which takes most people 2 weeks...

    I was told I could never crash a Mac by the old tech tutor... It took me 10 minutes without trying and unlike XP I couldn't uncrash it very easily at all.

    I've not jumped to vista because I break things, XP is more solid that Vista and I agree that windows 7 is basically Windows going, We can't fix it - here is something better!" And I can't fault that... Imagine if they had tried to fix ME instead of just jumping to XP!? Erugh.

    Oh and am I going crazy but wouldn't this new windows be the 8th version? So why is it called Windows 7 (Or are we pretending NT never esisted again?)

  • Comment number 9.

    Lana

    Windows 1.0
    Windows 2
    Windows 3
    Windows 4 (95/98/ME)
    Windows 5 (2000/XP)
    Windows 6 (Vista)

    NT was a different line and used its on numbering (until 2000 when they merged)

  • Comment number 10.

    Also, if you were to count NT, it would be the 9th version since there was NT3 and NT4...

  • Comment number 11.

    @Mark_MWFC,

    "I use Windows Vista x64 because it's solid, quick and reliable."

    Well there's a first time for everything I guess ;-)

    And if you bothered to look at Apple's latest quarterly results, I think you'll find Apple are selling more computers than ever. Plus there's Ubuntu etc., all chipping away at the train wreck that is Vista.

    http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/18924/

  • Comment number 12.

    Those stats only show the mac and linux vs vista and dont reflect that most users have kept to their xp where possible. This is especially the case for businesses (writing this on an xp pc at work), who don't really want to change to vista as it is perceived as unreliable.

    That link seems to state that apple were the inventors of multi-touch. hmmmm, interesting.

  • Comment number 13.

    @tuksta,

    It doesn't say that Apple are the inventors of Multi-Touch, rather the phrase 'Multi-Touch' is a trademark of Apple, Inc. (United States Patent and Trademark Office, Serial Number: 77219819)

  • Comment number 14.

    "This particular Microsoft copy of Apple innovation works about as well as — maybe even better than — we'd expect."

    This would imply that it is apple's idea.
    Apple have popularised this type of interface (iphone) and have applied it in a useful manner (zoom functions etc).
    I shouldn't have said inventors.

  • Comment number 15.

    @twelveightyone

    Ah, so it's "chipping away" now not "massive inroads".

    Glad we cleared that up.

    Like I said, use the tools that suit you. For the majority of the world that appears to be Windows including Vista which appears to be growing at far faster a rate than any other OS.

    http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=10

    Note that I don't rate hitslink as an entirely accurate source but it serves to illustrate the point.

    I must commend you on the link to Macdailynews though. It reminds me of The Onion in many ways.

    Or were they actually being serious?

  • Comment number 16.

    @twelveightyone

    "And what does this 'Windows 7' tell us about Vista? "

    What does OS X 10.5 say about OS X 10.4, what did OS X 10.4 say about OS X 10.3 etc.

    Everybody in the OS game brings out new versions, sorry but I don't see a valid point.

  • Comment number 17.

    @twelveightyone

    Are you a walking, talking encyclopedia for Apple. Seriously you sound like an absolute social loser. Either you're being paid by Apple or you just really have nothing better to do than to look up every single statistic for Apple.

    It's very boring.

    Every single post from you is the same, stop it now for your sake and for the sake (and sanity) others.



  • Comment number 18.

    @ravishingrickrude1,

    Yeh I guess I am a fan of Apple, and I wouldn't exactly say I was a social loser. But hey, with a name like ravishingrickrude1 I guess this is a case of the pot is calling the kettle black ;-)

    If my posts are boring to you, there is a very simple solution - don't read my posts! Last time I checked, free speech is still alive and kicking on the internet. You are entitled to your opinion, and I think I'll keep my opinion of you to myself, because it's my choice.

    And no I won't stop posting, so there! *blows a raspberry at a guy calling himself ravishingrickrude1 and trying to be taken seriously*

    (BTW, I use Google to find statistics, it's really quick and easy, you should try it someday).

  • Comment number 19.

    To those who are saying Windows has the largest base, may I remind you that if you buy a pre-built PC (which most do), you get a Windows Vista license. Even if you don't use it, it's still a count on their "number of units".

    As for MS's new "innovations" ... 3-d photo mosaic service Photosynth and Worldwide Telescope which allows you to explore the stars ... (sarcastic) WOW. Is that all?

    I also guess that MS "realising that PC hardware has evolved since the release of Vista" just means "you're going to have to upgrade your PC .. again"

    Finally, the whole 'cloud' computing thing is to me quite scary - even though my documents are saved to my private disk, it does mean every keypress will have to go over the internet. Considering the UK Gvt is thinking about (or even doing so already) snooping on emails, phone calls and web-browsing habbits, I'd rather keep my PRIVATE documents PRIVATE thank you.

    Windows 7? No thanks, I'll stick with my OpenSuse & KDE (which even runs ok on an 800mhz machine with 256mb ram).

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ha! I use that name as I don't expect to be taken seriously like you lot on here. Always harping on about statistics and how amazing apple are, I needed an alias and I came up with quite possibly the most comical thing I could think of at the time - remembered from my childhood.

    Unfortunatly I would love not to read your post, but with every article on Windows there you are, harping on about Apple and how they "are so much better" yet it's desperately unfair they're not market leaders. Boo Hoo to you also.

    So I guess myself, and the rest of the normal world will have to put up with the odd idiot *check the amount of users posting directly at you!* (yes - I can do the stars thing too!)

    However I won't keep my opinion of you to myself, because again, it's my choice. So there *performs more manly act rather than blowing raspberry* (OH LOOK THE STARS AGAIN - GOOD LORD!)

    Oh and I use google to find information everyday, mainly for my job.....you know a real job rather than posting on here all day.

    On that note I will go and do some work....

  • Comment number 22.

    @tuksta

    Without starting a rant by certain users, I was just wondering about your comment on Macs having less functions, and what you mean't by that?

    -----

    Also, multi-touch on a UI designed 30 years ago for a keyboard and mouse? I am still a little skeptical to be honest.

  • Comment number 23.

    'To those who are saying Windows has the largest base, may I remind you that if you buy a pre-built PC (which most do), you get a Windows Vista license. Even if you don't use it, it's still a count on their "number of units".'

    And when I bought my MacBook I had OS X on it. Oh my!

    You could also say that Apple counts their iPhone sales as number of units sold to phone networks and not to the customer.

    And anyway, even if MS counted their sales 'properly' then they would still be ahead, still by a large margin! MS have 85% to 95% of the market even with your new sales count.

  • Comment number 24.

    @thomasf1

    I just meant for my current usage, thats all. I do like the mac os but there I like the fact that i can download a huge array of programmes and they will nearly all work on my xp. I also have quite a few pc games that i like to play and i know that not all of them are compatible. Proof of this is the fact that many mac owners run windows aswell.

    Weirdly i was practically brought up on macs (school had them) so why im not a die hard fan is a bit odd to me.

  • Comment number 25.

    Photosynth and Worldwide Telescope proof of Microsoft innovation? Funny, I thought those were small start-ups that MS bought out?

    Mark_MWFC: care to enlighten us as to where multi-touch was originally invented??? My guess would be some uni or corporate research lab not affiliated with either Apple or Microsoft. And if you 'just want to get stuff done', then for 95% of the world that means the OS is irrelevant as the tools exist to do most 'stuff' on all platforms. It's only the hardcore gamers and various niche software users who are truly wedded to Windows.

    With regards the desktop penetration of alternative OS's (Mac, Linux, whatever), people need to stop looking at the retail sales figures or net usage in the US and UK which give a biased and incomplete picture at best, and instead look to what is happening in the developing world where Linux is gaining a major foothold. For example, the Brazilian school system recently rolled-out over 230 million Linux desktops. In Europe, regions of Spain use Linux desktops in their schools, and there's many medium scale efforts in governments and companies to roll them out too, just not loudly advertised. In most cases, these are imaged installs of their own customised Linux either on either existing hardware that originally had Windows on it, or on 'naked' hardware sourced through OEM's, in both cases there is never a commercial OS sale to be counted in Linux's favour. Many of these desktops are also in environments where there is little or no internet access available or allowed, or where the sites accessed don't appear on the usually US-based net monitoring stats. Thin clients are another popular way of delivering Linux desktops in corporate environments that again would never be counted in retail or net stats.

    I've recently switched hardware from a Dell to the new aluminium Macbook (both running Linux I hasten to add) and it was worth the extra price for a laptop body that actually feels like it will withstand the knocks I hand out, unlike the plastic Dell which is covered in cracks and chips.

    Oh, and if you want a truly geeky conference, look no further than the Linux Plumbers conference, some of the talk titles there are really indecipherable!

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh, yeah, and the reason the Vista sales figures look so good is that they include the pre-installed copy on all new PC's sold, since MS will no longer allow the manufacturers to ship the XP most people would seem to prefer. So the claim that Vista has outsold XP in its first x months is purely because more PC's are sold these days then when XP was launched. The retail box sales figures for Vista are far more enlightening.

  • Comment number 27.

    @Thomasf1

    The companies are going to fiddle their stats to make them look better then they are. MS will count the un-used Vista licenses and no doubt Mac are doing the same with iPhone and so on.

    I don't doubt MS hold 85% - 95% of the PC market, Mr & Mrs Smith won't care what operating system their new PC comes with - the shop sold it with Windows, they will keep Windows. Their shiny new Macbook comes with Mac OS, they'll keep Mac OS.

    Then there are people who ditch the OS that came with the hardware and install something else, be it Linux, Windows or whatever.

    I'd say it was safe to say that MS (incl all their OSes) do hold the vast majority over the others, but to loose just 1% is something silly like loosing 1,000,000 computers (possibly more!) to a rival OS.

    Ultimately and back to the point, Windows7 is just another Vista - gimmicky and no doubt requiring another hardware upgrade just to view 3d photos and the stars and send even more of your private data via the internet.

  • Comment number 28.

    And that's the reason why Apple, Ubuntu and all other OS's are making massive inroads into Micro$ofts' hegemony. Be more productive, and don't waste your CPU cycles on virus scans and malware sniffers etc.

    ----------

    Sadly that's what you have to waste your cycles on when you are the #1 provider, if Linux or Apple ever get there they will find that out too.

    ----------------





    And if you bothered to look at Apple's latest quarterly results, I think you'll find Apple are selling more computers than ever.

    -----------------

    I think you'll find that is the case for just about all of them, Linux, Apple and MS included.






    I do wonder why on a blog post that has nothing to do wtih Macs people keep bringing the same argumentsup all the time. Surely this is just an insight nto what goes on at MS. Sounds like a fairly normal kind of working environment to me, evey industry has something like this, most are low key as well.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Odysseus_nz

    Multi-touch was invented at the University of Tornto and then developed at Bell Labs.

    I take your point about operating systems but the fact remains that the world is set up to run on Windows - the adage that only gamers and niche applications are wedded to Windows is false because the costs of changing are monstrous for corporations. This may change with the advent of realistic distributed services but we're a long way from that yet.

    As for OS penetration, I take your point about the rise of Linux in developing nations - although your figure of 230 million is obviously incorrect given the entire worldwide Linux community is about 30 million users - but it remains a minority interest. I'd also point out that there are numerous Windows boxes which never touch the net either and that, whilst I agree with you about the accuracy of sites like hitlist, that doesn't obviate the fact that Gartner and IDC's stats support Windows' market share figures.

    The other inaccuracy is stating that Vista's figures are distorted because people were stripping off the OS and installing XP. This, I'm afraid, largely isn't true because when MS published their figures for sales prior to June XP was still an install option with all the major OEMs - if you wanted it you could have it as standard. Similarly, retail box sales of Vista aren't more enlightening because by far the majority of sales are pre-installed copies.

    What is up for debate is the number of corporate machines sold with Vista licences which were converted to run XP. A recent survey from Randall Kennedy - who you will appreciate is no fan of MS - showed that Visat remained on two thirds of machines which is actually pretty good at this point in its lifecycle and certainly comparable with XP's transition from 2000 and NT.

    As such there is absolutely no doubt that Windows' market share for the desktop and laptop market is in excess of 90%. Whether that's a good or bad thing is up for debate.

    Finally, for those who assume that W7 requires better hardware, I suggest that you look at the Pre-Beta demonstrations. You'll note that its hardware requirements are actually considerably less that Vista's.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Sadly that's what you have to waste your cycles on when you are the #1 provider, if Linux or Apple ever get there they will find that out too."

    You're totally right, if the tables were turned i'm sure there would be large amounts of malware and viruses appearing on those os.

    and Mark_MWFC, nice long comment. Very insightful. You forgot to add that apple bought Fingerworks in 05, who had developed multi-touch since the late 90s. Basically they just acquired the technology from someone else, rather similar to Microsofts corporate strategy.

  • Comment number 31.

    Another long thread of PC vs MAC.

    I'm an IT prfessional of many years, if you want to debate PC vs MAC think of one thing... Support.

    There are 3 or 4 blokes in my local pub who can fix a PC, none who will even look at a MAC; and before you say they don't go wrong or get virus infected they do.

  • Comment number 32.

    What is up for debate is the number of corporate machines sold with Vista licences which were converted to run XP. A recent survey from Randall Kennedy - who you will appreciate is no fan of MS - showed that Visat remained on two thirds of machines which is actually pretty good at this point in its lifecycle and certainly comparable with XP's transition from 2000 and NT.

    ------------------

    Indeed, up until the spring this year we were stripping machines down and script installing windopws 2000 still regardless of the actual licence purchased, now we do XP instead.

    Regardless of which they all run windows in one form or another, as do 90% of computer in general. Quibbling over the details really is quite pointless at the moment.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ djmikeyc (Albeit a little late...)

    Ahhhh Ok, that makes more sense xD.

    Windows 7 does look kinda of pretty though, I do have to admit. But I like XP. When it break i can beat it into working for me again xD

  • Comment number 34.

    I think it'll be funny looking back at some of the inane arguments on here in 10 years time, jeez!

  • Comment number 35.

    ^^^^

    When we're all governed by robots and living in hologram houses, I should have added.

  • Comment number 36.

    On that note i think i'll go destroy all of my microsoft based programs and run linux from now on. on my ps3.

  • Comment number 37.

    @OneSandal, you drink in the wrong pub mate.

    "and before you say they don't go wrong or get virus infected they do."

    Name ONE virus that affects OS X 10.5.5 and I will personally pay you £500.

    *crickets chirping*

  • Comment number 38.

    Before I start let me point out that I've used windows ever since 95. I use windows because in the past and right now it does what I need it to do. I use open office as it again does what I need it to do. If windows stops doing what I need I will look for an alternative that will. I think a lot of people, computer savvy or just customers wanting a family computer are in the same frame of mind.

    That being said when windows 7 rolls out I won't be getting it if the only advantages it holds over Vista is the ability to look at stars, (I've got a real window and can do that whenever I like) or use touch devices (why would we need these apart from in mobile devices or displays?)
    If Microsoft can only offer up these advances and nothing truly spectacular (Aero? haha) instead of superficial then the people perfectly happy with thier xp won't budge an inch because it still to this day does exactly what you need it to do.

    PS I only bought Vista after the announcement that they wouldn't be making DX10 (Damn my gaming addiction!) available for XP but after some tweaking and customization it's almost back to being as functional and lean as XP!

  • Comment number 39.

    "I think it'll be funny looking back at some of the inane arguments on here in 10 years time, jeez!"

    ...reading these blogs there is no wonder people think PC's and for that matter Mac users are not cool

    There is life beyond the screen in front of you!

  • Comment number 40.

    @djmikeyc

    Win 95, etc and Win Xp are totally different products, with a similar GUI.

    MS-DOS had a simple graphical shell, Windows. MS-DOS 6 had the optional add-on of Windows 3.x. This ran on 'IBM-clone' PCs - i.e. Personal Computers made to the specifications laid down by IBM, as opposed to Personal Computers made by Apple that weren't cloned because Apple wanted to retain control of the product.

    At the same time as DOS/Windows, Microsoft had a product called 'Windows NT' (New Technology), designed for mini-computers and mainframes (that's "small servers" and "big servers" to you and me). It was based on Vax VMS and was more stable because it was designed with multiuser and multitasking in mind. DOS was designed for single-tasking and single users and the likely demands of the 1990s meant it was unlikely to be able to 'scale up' as easily as WinNT could be scaled-down to Personal Computers.

    DOS 7 went directly to the GUI, Windows 4 (or, Win95). Hence DOS was dropped from the marketing. It had a few maintenance relases and with WinME (4.4 or 4.5, I think), it ceased development. By the time of ME, it was showing the signs of a patched/rehashed 1980s design and was not fit for new uses.

    Windows NT 4 (or, Windows 2000) was still mostly on servers and applications where regular rebooting was a hassle for the user. From the outset it was designed to cope with modern demands, even though the hardware didn't yet exist. NT 5, better known as XP released in flavours for servers and IBM-clone Personal Computers (though by now, the IBM part was largely forgotten). NT 6 is better known as Vista and NT 7 (Windows 7) does away with the silly names.

    As for this "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" carry-on? Apple Macs ARE PCs. They are Personal Computers running Mac OS (as opposed to MS Windows, Linux or whatever else takes your fancy).

  • Comment number 41.

    "Any operating system that allows third-party programs to run can theoretically run viruses" - quote from wikipedia computer virus page.

    @ minervatheowl

    surely macs aren't pcs because they're not personal. You can't personalise a mac as much as a pc. Sure you can run a different os but that would mean youve just hideously overspent. I could get an £800 laptop with similar or better tech spechs than a £1800 macbook pro. If you run linux on both, what would the smart person choose?

  • Comment number 42.

    "Any operating system that allows third-party programs to run can theoretically run viruses"

    The key word here is THEORETICALLY.

    I mean, theoretically, I could become the next President of the USA. Highly unlikely, but theoretically not impossible.

  • Comment number 43.

    "Highly unlikely, but theoretically not impossible"

    so we are agreed that osx can get viruses and has done in the past?

  • Comment number 44.

    If you think Microsoft is geeky then its no wonder i cant stand any bbc shows on technology and computers.

    Rory - no geek points for you.

  • Comment number 45.

    "so we are agreed that osx can get viruses and has done in the past?"

    No, OS X has had ZERO viruses. Theoretically, it is possible it might in the future, but highly unlikely given the security architecture of any UNIX system.

    Again, if you could point me to some concrete proof of previous OS X viruses, I will happily eat my hat.

  • Comment number 46.

    bananasfk(number 44).
    I said the show was geeky, not Microsoft. And as t-shirts with "geek..and proud" on them were selling like hot-cakes at the conference shop I think that's fair comment.

    Oh and by the way, I know writing any blog post containing the word Microsoft (or indeed Apple) is like throwing a fillet steak into a cage full of Rottweilers - but can we all calm down now?

  • Comment number 47.

    @Tuksta
    History lesson...

    The term 'Computer' refers to an automated counting machine. Electronic Computers are computers that don't use cogs (as opposed to Babbage's machine - see the Science Museum). Programmable computers allow the operator to give it new instructions (as opposed to the one that controls my washing machine and can't deviate from pre-set programs once I start it off).

    Early computers were huge, filled a room and now take up a floor of the science museum and appear in old Bond Movies. As technology improved, they got smaller. The first classification for size differentiated 'mini' computers from mainframes (or, the big full-sized ones).

    More advances meant something smaller than Mini-Computers. These were called Micro Computers. Some clever people noticed that Micro Computers could be operated by one person and taken home without specialist cooling equipment and the name Personal Computer caught on, especially when IBM touted their Intel 8086-based PC.

    My first Personal Computer was a ZX Spectrum, using a Zilog Z80 processor. My friend's was a Commodore 64. The next Personal Computer I used was a BBC Basic. Other Personal Computers I used include Apple Macintoshes, some machines running MS Windows and some running Linux. Some are desktop-PCs and some are Laptop-PCs (they sit on my lap), aka Notebook PCs (they are the same size as a large notebook).

    I also have a Personal Digital Assistant. This is a Personal Computer that is smaller than 'normal-sized' microcomputers. My friend has a web-book (like a notebook, but smaller).

    All of them are Personal, because they are designed for single person use (look up 'Personal' in a dictionary). They are microcomputers because they are very small (compared to early computers).

    In all cases, modern Personal Computers allow a lot of personalisation. Early ones didn't.

  • Comment number 48.

    Windows may not be perfect, but its still the best option. MacOS just isnt my thing, i dont like it and i HATE Apples 'style' and smug middle class image. Not to mention the price!!

    Linux, while better than a few years ago still as a LONG way to go, a hell of a long way.

    Even the latest versions are no match for the functionality or ease of setup of Windows. I tried Ubuntu 8.10, but it required me to delve into the command line just to get the display drivers to work and even when they did it would not let me run 2 HD displays together at different resolutions.

    Im not exactly a computer novice so i can be certain Linux is still not an option for 90% of home users, and frankly its open source nature means it never will be, unless PC manufacturers sell PC with their own custom versions, which will only lead to more problems down the road.

  • Comment number 49.

    The multi-touch stuff isn't new. Actually, it isn't even new to Windows, as it was the major feature in Microsoft's surface computing platform, a.k.a. the Microsoft Coffee Table.

    But what worries me hugely about Windows 7 is that Microsoft, and the media, seem to be talking about the touch stuff as the only noteworthy new feature in Windows 7. This is the same as happened with Vista. All that anyone talked about was the Aero interface. Even Bill Gates at the London launch (I was there) didn't really touch on much else. Then we realised why. There wasn't much else.

    Is Windows 7 going to pull the same trick again? Is there really nothing new apart from the touch interface?

  • Comment number 50.

    @ minervatheowl
    Firstly, I actually thought it was an obvious little joke when i was implying the personal in pc means the ability to personalise it. Wasn't it clearly just a dig at mac users? I apologise for seeming so stupid.

    Secondly, please don't spend so much effort on writing that stuff again, i feel like i really wasted your time. (i also had a commodore 64 for my first pc)

    @twelveeightyone
    Leap-A virus perhaps? Perhaps only a small virus but still technically a virus. Type it into google. Or whatever mac users use. Then post hat eating on youtube please (and link here)

    And Rory, sorry for clogging up your comments.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Rovex33

    Hate to break it to you but there are customised versions of Linux being sold with PCs. You only need to look at Asus's eeePC to see just how popular it can be!

    The new G1 phone using the Andriod OS (designed by google) is a Linux based OS. And that is on a smartphone.

    Claiming Open Source is inherently bad/difficult sounds like something direct from Apple/MS. Look at Compiz-fusion, you can do alot more with it than you can with Aero and you don't need to go anywhere near a command line. Whats the problem with command lines anyway? People managed with DOS. Doesn't hurt to understand what you are doing with your computer - it's alot better than leaving it to the "phone home" approach that commerical companies use.

    I'm not saying Linux is for everyone (I still use Windows) but Ubuntu is making massive strides to make Linux as accessible as possible. I even managed to get most games running with it - and running at framerates close to what I get in Vista.

  • Comment number 52.

    @tuksta,

    My dear chum you are quite misguided. Leap-A was not a virus, you had to invoke a download using iChat, run the 'virus' manually and then enter an administrator password! Hardly a self-propagating virus now is it!

    Top hits on Google are sensational headlines from... Symantec & Sophos! They are trying to scare Mac users into buying their Anti-Virus warez. Heck, at the bottom of the article telling everyone that it is a virus is the following sentence:

    "Sophos protects all Macs, whether standalone, mixed network or Mac network. Try our products for yourself with a 30-day free trial."

    If we are going to catogarize these kind of things as viruses, then asking a Mac User to type sudo -rm~ would be classed as a virus.

    I'm afraid you have an epic FAIL in your quest to find a Mac Virus. Better luck next time buddy!

  • Comment number 53.

    I know its not a very signifcant virus, i even said so myself, "perhaps only a small virus, but still technically a virus". Yes it is true that it was pretty much a waste of space in malware terms. try reading this article to see how pointless it was:

    http://www.macworld.com/article/49473/2006/02/leapafollow.html.

    and this Leap-A FAQ

    http://www.macworld.com/article/49459/2006/02/leapafaq.html

    I also admit it is nothing compared to a windows virus, but then again, what is?

  • Comment number 54.

    Macs are, at the moment, a bit more secure than PCs, this isn't really up for argument.

    However, proof of concept virii do exist and Macs are just as vulnerable to third party application exploits as Windows platforms are. As such Mac users have less to worry about in terms of 'system smashers' (and to be honest Windows Defender will spot these on Vista anyway) but still need to exercise care and caution in, say, browser based apps.

  • Comment number 55.

    I was given a talk quite recently by the head of Microsoft LiveLabs (the people who make Microsoft Surface, Photosynth and Seadragon.) They all look very good, and I had a very interesting dinner with him afterwards (off the record of course :P), but essentially all the new techologies are very exciting. Having said that, although I do understand what 'Parallel Programming for C++ Developers in the next version of Microsoft Visual Studio' means, my desire to visit the lecture is limited.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sorry to take up more space, but if this turns into a slogging and flaming match between Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and oall the other OSs floating around, this blog will most likely be locked (see link below...)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2008/02/microsoft_is_a_doomed_dinosaur.html

  • Comment number 57.

    rory.....

    i hope that you had a enjoyable time at the pc world convention.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sadly perhaps, most people will stick with windows, as the majority are not "geeks" and cannot see the benefits of an alternative OS, be it MAC, linux, freeBSD, freeDOS or whatever, they will not actively seek out an alternative to windows as they feel "safe" with what they are used to, virus threats and all, and perhaps that's the point. People feel safe behind their firewalls and virus shields, they fear change, they are happy with a mid-range performance from their machines, as they do not know any better, UNIX based OS's (ie MAC and linux) are not virus immune, but most malicious coding is designed to attack windows, (yet in recent tests MAC is least secure against hackers http://www.itworld.com/mac-hacked-first-in-contest-080327) at the end of the day though, who uses what will have no affect on me whatsoever, i use linux, and linux is not a big company that is affected by "sales figures" it's free!

  • Comment number 59.

    "most people will stick with windows"

    Why are they given Windows in the first place ? What is the UK's OFT doing about this massive market manipulation of pre-loading PC hardware with Microsoft operating system, web browser, media player and office suite (trial version) ??

    Asus, Samsung, HP and others have all declined to sell me a retail PC without a Microsoft OS, so any analysis that suggests Windows is good because it is popular is fundamentally flawed - it is widely used because you are not offered a choice when you get a new computer.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ cynicaleng, i agree with you, yet there are companies that will sell you a machine without OS, but very few and far between, incidentally, when you buy a new machine with windows installed, at first boot when windows prompts you to press F8, (you agree and wish to install) if you don't want to install it press F9. Then demand a refund from the PC manufacturer for the cost of a windows installation!

  • Comment number 61.

    Most people stick with Windows because it does everything they need it to. Very few people actually care about which OS they use.

  • Comment number 62.

    Does everything they need to sure, fair enough, until they get a virus! Don't worry though, there are plenty of companies more than willing to take your money for antivirus program updates, or you can use the free alternatives, and while this software is protecting your machine from villains and their wares, you will put up with the constant scanning and slowing down of your hard drive. Happy surfing :-)

  • Comment number 63.

    I suppose the cool thing about a PC compared to the Mac to me is that I don't have any hardware ties.

    I can chose from motherboard, processor, etc. makers. I can build from scratch, take a mid point, eg. barebones or get a ready built system, etc.

    On this "freedom of choice" hardware system of course, I need have no software ties, eg. I do run Linux and Windows, then (not tried by me) there is Free BSD, and others.

    If that's not enough, I can write my own programs and, at least with open source, I can also modify existing software (well in theory I could. I have used bits of C, C++, Java, Pascal etc. but I'm very limited in what I can do)

    How's that then,

    For complete freedom, PC=the Perfect Choice

    (well worth a try anyway ;-) )

  • Comment number 64.

    @ cynicaleng, I'm in total agreement, there should be a choice at the point of sale and you should be able to get a reduction in the cost of the machine if you want it free of any OS. In any other industry this monopoly at point of sale would have been picked to pieces by the OFT. I mean imagine if when you bought a TV you HAD to have sky, instead of being able to choose freeview. If more information and choice was offered to consumers by shop sales staff there would be more healthy competion and Microsoft wouldn't get away with being the sluggish behemoth it is today. If competion only means we get a better more streamlined, standards compliant windows with all the benefits of a Unix based system then that is still an improvement from the situation we are in now. However my rose tinted specs aren't that powerful....

  • Comment number 65.

    Re the choice of OS (including none) and buying a new PC, I agree it can be a problem but (in part, see above) I haven't had a particular problem with it. The last 2 (in 2005 and still in use here) fully assembled base units we bought were offered with no OS.

    I found the situation more difficult with laptops. When I needed to replace my old Dell C800, I struggled to find anything OS free. As it turned out, at the same time, I found I needed something that could run IE7 (to check web pages) so getting one with Vista Home pre installed wasn't the issue it might otherwise have been.

    Of course, I'm just commenting on how I've found things. I agree with the feelings expressed by monkeysuncle.

  • Comment number 66.

    @chaos77

    Really? Perhaps you could quote the slowdown factor caused by individual securityware programs so we can compare just how much processing time we're losing or how they 'constantly scan' one's hardrive as opposed to running as a scheduled task when the machine isn't being used?

    Hmm?

    It's a non-issue unless you're running some really awful program.

    I use Vista Home Premium x64 and Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex on different boxes. Both have their virtues and in all honesty Ubuntu is the better OS in terms of design. However, it's fiddly, doesn't have the out of box support Vista has and doesn't run the applications or games I most commonly use. I used to have a Macbook running Tiger but gave it away as I just didn't have a need for it anymore. Again, OS X is a nice OS but it's no use if it doesn't run the applications or games I use.

    Which is the crux of the matter - Windows runs everything that matters with the possible exception of a few bits of specialized software which is why it's so popular and since the whole purpose of an operating system is to support the applications that's all that really matters in the end.

    There is a mistaken belief that people buy Windows PCs because they have no choice. The real reason they buy them is because they'll run everything they need to and are familiar with. Plus, let's face it, there have always been choices it's just that most people aren't interested in them. I'm not saying that's the best way but it is, unfortunately, the way the world works.

  • Comment number 67.

    I must admit that I agree with Mark_MWFC's last paragraph. The support and ease of use of the windows operating system is by and large a good experience especially for someone with little or no knowledge and 'out-of-the-box" it does what the majority of computer users want it to do and supports tha majority of hardware and software that this user base is likely to use. That is the market that Microsoft cater for and unless windows stops catering for them it will remain that way and why should they look for another product to do things they would never use? For the kind of person who doesn't read these boards or is new to computing I can bet the only two names they are familiar with are "Microsoft" and "Apple" I would love to see a Linux ad but why advertise something that's free? "I'm a Mac", "Well I'm a P.C. ha ha" "WEll, em I'm a penguin!?"

  • Comment number 68.

    I'll try to add my own experience to this.

    I have rarely had a perfect out of the box experience with Windows. There invariably seems to be one of the diver disks I have to feed the system with that goes wrong.

    That said, while I do think the installallation programs on Ubuntu for example are as easy to use as any Windows version (3.1 to Vista except ME) I've done but even allowing for the odd Win driver issue, it can be harder to get everything working as required. Largely, this is not the fault of Linux itself (manufactures always supply drivers for Win) but that's of no help to the novice reading (if they get that far) they might need to compile something!

    The other side of this coin is, I think how a user finds a system once set up. On this I can comment that (although I do appreciate people differ) my parents had no problems taking to OpenOffice instead of MS Office, Firefox instead of IE, etc.

    The reason they prefer Linux though has nothing to do with the applications. It is simply that they enjoy the reliability and stability the system has offered them. I've never had a Win system as bad as some report (crashing every 5 minutes) but maybe once or so they would come to me wondering if they had done anything wrong, maybe once a quarter wondering why the machine no longer booted, etc.

    In that sense and for us, Linux has proved itself an excellent system for fairly comupter illiterate people - but, yes, I do conceded, they could not have installed it on their PC to do all they need.

  • Comment number 69.

    twelveightyone

    I think you have a bad case of "can't see the orchard for the apples"

    If you honestly think that you don't need anti-virus and malware protection on an OSX or Linux machine then you are a fool. Just because they are not well publicised, doesn't meant they aren't out there. Apple for one are the first to not admit when there is a security vunerability in their OS.

    Vista is not a disaster. It has far outsold XP on a like for like basis in the months following its release. Its far more secure. Its far more stable. The support tools are for more maleable.

    Part of the reason many companies have not jumped to Vista is the cost involved with migrating bespoke software. This software was written for XP (or in some cases 2000). Vista has a different kernel. This causes some of the bespoke software not to work. This is not Microsoft's fault, or is it any reflection on Vista. Its for the software houses to fix.

 

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