Computers Evolving Towards Being Toasters

When the personal computer first came into our homes, it was typically based upon MS-DOS, Microsoft's Disk Operating System. When the first Windows versions appeared, they were simply a graphical layer upon MS-DOS. One of the longstanding issues for computer users is the need for configuration of, and drivers for, hardware devices. I can well remember excitedly getting a PC game and then spending ten or fifteen minutes (or sometimes much longer) trying to get the sound card to work - or making sure I had the correct version of DirectX installed.

Computers are fairly complex devices and so a degree of "fiddling" is perhaps expected (and indeed relished by geeky types) - except that users of Apple computers have traditionally been relatively fiddle-free; stuff mostly "just works". Why is that? Apple has much more control over the computing environment than Microsoft does with Windows; Apple builds the computers, knows exactly what is in them, and can supply an Operating System to work well with these parts.

This is a key aspect of the move towards making personal computing devices into appliances, like a microwave, or a TV set - which further broadens it's appeal. We are already seeing the big swing towards appliance-type devices and away from traditional personal computers, with the crazy popularity of tablet computers and even smartphones.

Both tablets and smartphones are compact and lightweight, so you can have them with you most of the time. They also usually support both WiFi networking and can utilize the cell phone data networks, so you can use them wherever you can get a cell signal.

They already have a camera installed and set up, so you don't need to mess with that. Sound and video "just work" and if you want to install an App, you just click on a button on the App Store. The appliance mentality is clearly there; these devices are still a form of personal computer, they just are evolving towards becoming the next toaster. Granny is usually not intimidated by a toaster, why should she shy away from a tablet computer?

I kinda miss the fiddling, though...

computer appliance

No comments :