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Is This What You’d Call a “PC”?

I’ve been working on a presentation for the VSTE Mobile Learning Conferences (one next week and another the week after), which means I’m paying more attention to anything related to the subject at hand.

Like this view of the tablet business from the president of Microsoft phone division.

The use of the mobile OS would be “in conflict” with Microsoft’s notion of having the full speed of a computer in any design, including truly mobile tablets. He insisted that users would want to do PC-style activities on a tablet and saw Windows 8’s networking and printing support as being important.

“We view a tablet as a PC,” Lees said.

Interesting. I think I’m doing a “PC-style” activity, namely writing this post, on this iPad right now.

Anyway, I suppose it really depends on what you want, when, and how you want to do those PC-style activities. Certainly I’m not going to write the great American novel on this thing (not without using a bluetooth keyboard) or work with complex spreadsheets.

But I can edit video, record audio, and create music, as well as do a whole host of other things that a few years ago would be considered “PC activities”. And more functionality is being added every day, some of which would be difficult to do on your standard PC.

So, while the concept of what is considered a computer is getting fuzzier, the remarks of this exec makes very clear the distinction between Apple’s concept of post-PC devices and Microsoft’s dedication to more PCs.

I rather like the post-PC vision.


  1. Tony

    He insisted that users would want to do PC-style activities on a tablet and saw Windows 8′s networking and printing support as being important.

    Right. Sure. Microsoft has had this exact same strategy since the early ’90s, and every Windows based tablet has failed miserably. The success of the iPad pretty much proves that consumers in fact do NOT want “PC-style activities” on a tablet (and by that I mean full desktop equivalent…) Consumers want an intuitive and convenient tablet where the OS gets out of their way. They do not want full-blown Windows on a tablet. They never have. What was that definition of insanity again? ;)

  2. John Hendron

    I am glad you will be helping VSTE with our mobile events this summer. To me, mobile technology feels more humane (after all, there’s a higher ratio of human to tool with a small device), and as these devices continue to emerge and get refined, we too will refine how we get work done with them.

    I never thought I’d say this… but I throughly enjoyed editing photos this past week while on vacation on the iPad using software from Nik. They make plugins for Photoshop, but this app was a joy to use. It wasn’t 100% Photoshop, but it did the fun HDR type stuff I sometimes like to do, helped me crop, upload to Flickr, and make real art out of my informal vacation shots. There’s no equivalent on the PC/Mac that’s this quick and fun to use.

    I believe the PC/Tablet/Handheld issues are only going to blur more in the coming couple of years. Once TestNav from Pearson is available on iPads, watch out.

    But the continued innovation will be the continued ease of switching between the appropriate tools. I hope to still be in the education business when documents or videos/etc are produced/started on one machine, and we can sit down at a table computer to continue editing with someone sitting next to us, then later put final touches on a phone before sending it off.

    I’m excited about Lion’s upgrades that we’ll be able to explore later this week – but the cloud based syncing Apple has demoed for IOS 5 is – I think – a taste of the future. And still – Microsoft isn’t prepared to offer this synergy between devices.

    And FWIW, even though I can print from my iPad, I have never had the desire to, except to test that it actually worked.

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