Is working with Ultrabooks “cooler” ?
Is the Enterprise PC dead or has it just gotten “cooler” with the Ultrabooks?
In the broad sense, the personal computer isn’t dead by any means, it’s just been evolving for a long time. Worldwide PC (in-use) sales per 1,000 people have jumped from 19 in 1990 to 217 in 2011 and predicted to increase to 293 PCs/1000 people by 2015. While worldwide revenues have grown from $71B in 1990 to $1,415B in 2010 and expectations of $2,165B in 2015 and $2,520B by 2020.
PC usage in large enterprises has evolved too although a bit slower to adopt new technologies in the past few years. Change, especially in the world of Enterprise Information Technology is constant. And you know, change is what most people dislike. Users have to continuously learn about the new technologies, business units need to plan for deployments and this all comes with the promise of lower operating costs in the enterprise. That’s why it’s sometimes called “disruptive technology”.
Evolution of the personal computer
Now think about the evolution of the personal computer. PCs were around long before the IBM Model 5150 was introduced in the fall of 1981. I remember using my first computer at Washington University during an orientation visit a long time ago, it was a DEC PDP/8 mini-computer. It was disruptive in itself because it was in a separate room in the engineering department where I could use it pretty much any time I needed it. This was the real value of the personal computer i.e. the ability for anyone in any pursuit to use the computer and become creative. On the other hand, what the IBM PC accomplished most significantly was to create a device which was embraced by large companies for tradition roles. They were able to develop the device within one year through an IBU in Boca Raton, FL with the goal of selling it to both consumers and businesses for far less than computers had costs up to that time.
Enterprise standard OS
Moving forward, Microsoft introduced Windows for Workgroups v3.11 which included a number of networking and security capabilities required at large enterprises. Soon afterwards, the Windows OS became the enterprise standard OS and many new applications were developed. By the summer of 1995, notebooks became a popular platform using Windows 95 with advanced power management. Mobility was practical and notebook design was simplified. Windows 95 also ushered in the importance of the CD-ROM drive in mobile computing and initiated the shift to the Intel Pentium processor as the base platform for notebooks.
PCs usage easier
Software applications on the PC became a lot easier to use. This set the stage for more applications to be written and new markets opened up for the PCs usage. Up to this time, computer in corporations pretty much was used for productivity devices for word processing and spreadsheets and mainframe access like dumb terminals.
As the windows operating system became pervasive, the software applications exploded and usage of the “personal computer” expanded dramatically and created a lot of millionaires in the process.
New specification: Ultrabook
As the speed/size of processor chips evolved as predicted by Moore’s Law, new applications, new form factors and new solutions were developed. As the evolution continues, the developers at Intel have led the PC industry by creating a new specification in what is called the Ultrabook. The PC is not dead, it’s just evolving. PC will continue to evolve all sort of form factors like wearable computing devices, internet appliances and embedded in nearly any device you can think of. It’s going to be exciting in the next several decades and I’m looking forward to seeing the developments. I hope you are too.
Update! You can now download the whitepaper: "Evolution of the Enterprise Client Experience"