The Desktop Is Dead; Long Live The Tablet.

The launches of the new iPad, Apple’s Mountain Lion OS and Windows 8 are a reminder of just how far technology has advanced in the last decade.

newipadNew hardware no longer comes in luminescent (or beige) boxes sporting a super advanced, faster CPU. New operating systems are no longer the hotly anticipated interfaces that will change the way we live. Remember the screams of hysterical joy when chips hit 1Ghz clockspeed, or the open mouthed gasps when folks first saw Windows 95 or Mac OSX, and how about that amazing 10 Gigabytes of storage?

No, today, new hardware fits in your hand. Tablets are sleek, sexy and mobile, and they come in two sizes, but the smaller version is called a phone. We see them everywhere and we know the instant they’ve purchased one, because they call you to tell you. Or maybe they don’t call- maybe they Facetime, or Skype. It’s a spooky, haunting feeling, but when was the last time anyone showed you their new desktop, or laptop- or even mentioned they purchased one.

So congratulations to all who will soon own a new iPad. A machine so good, its quite possible that Steve Jobs is looking down right now wishing he hadn’t bothered with the first two versions. It is modern content consumption at its finest, ultra hi-def display, hi-res camera, and a very useful (and possibly underrated) dictation assistant meaning no more typing. You don’t care whats inside it- it works, and as for storage, well that’s somewhere up in the clouds.

Apple tells us that the Mountain Lion OS was inspired by the iPad. Great, fantastic, brilliant and beautiful. The multi-touch world has arrived, almost by stealth. If you’re running an older Mac, its doubtful you will be able to appreciate the design features of this OS, however on a new iMac or MacBook, this is a real step forward. This OS is a real sign post to where all personal computing is headed.

wind8Likewise Windows 8 does the same thing, but from a completely different angle. Where as Apple has been developing its system hand in hand with its hardware for years, Windows has always existed without its own hardware platform. This has allowed its developers to create Windows 8 from scratch and in doing so they have created the most significant advances in operating systems since OSX.

Like Mountain Lion, Windows 8 will only be fully appreciated by those with products that allow multi-touch. Its ironic, that the power and beauty of Windows 8 will probably never be properly appreciated on any PC (now or in the future), but can be enjoyed immediately on a tablet or phone. This is a truly advanced OS that has a layout and features well beyond its competitors. Sadly, its so good, and so different it will probably scare more people off than it attracts, but its sure to finally win some fanboys over to Microsoft. Surely Bill Gates wishes he was responsible for Windows 8 instead of Windows 95.

No one has said it, but while these product launches were exciting, they also mark the end of the beginning- a coded obituary for the desktop PC and the first era of personal computing that lasted a generation. We’re mobile now, we’re cross platform and we’re accessing our content everywhere we go. Desktops are for people at work, the tablet is for creative people at play. The desktop is dead, long live the tablet!

Watch FiST Chat 63: The iPad Has Arrived for more on this topic.

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