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How Google, Apple and Microsoft just saved the PC

Mike Elgan | Oct. 31, 2016
In a single week, three of the industry's biggest companies dragged users kicking and screaming into a better future

The Surface Dial is a glimpse of the peripheral devices to come. In the near future, the keyboard will rest on the screen as well, and the messages, emails, documents or whatever it is you're typing will appear directly above wherever you place the keyboard. Placing your phone or camera on the screen will cause the pictures inside to "spill out" onto the screen.

People are griping about the price ($2,999 to $4,199), the less-than-gaming-quality compute power and the fact that screen resolution doesn't quite match comparably sized iMacs. But all this missed the point.

The psychology of using the work surface as the computer, placing peripheral devices on the screen and for documents and other artifacts to default to life size makes digital content creation seem more like real life.

Instead of looking in one place (the screen) and interacting with things on that screen elsewhere (trackpads, keyboards, drawing tablets), the Surface Studio concept lets you touch and move and navigate through on-screen objects and creations directly.

Instead of a desktop PC sitting on a desk, and surrounded by papers, sticky notes, books and other analog clutter, the Surface Studio concept is to make it all digital, but continue to use it in the same way. So you could imagine an open e-book, virtual yellow sticky note reminders, a stack of virtual documents and a virtual notebook filled with your scribbles -- all on the screen instead of littering your desk.

The Surface Studio concept not only makes existing desktop PCs obsolete, it makes desks themselves obsolete, especially as ever larger versions of Surface Studio like PCs come on the market.

The Surface Studio is available now for pre-order and ships in "limited quantities" in time for the holidays.

More than nine years ago, I asked in this space the question: "Will Microsoft beat Apple with its 'giant iPhone'?"

Finally, I can report the answer: Yes!

More importantly, Microsoft is showing the industry a path to a much needed transition away from WIMP computers and toward the giant tablet model of the future.

In a single week, Google dragged your meetings into the cloud, Apple killed off a wide range of obsolete PC technologies and Microsoft pointed the way to the next-generation PC of the future.

We're all going to love the future of PCs -- whether we like it or not!


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