Former Microsoft exec: "We are in a post-PC world"

During Apple's "new iPad" press conference on Wednesday, the company's CEO Tim Cook kept telling the audience we were in a "post-PC world". Before you get too offended, there's a former Microsoft employee who might agree with Cook.

Reuters reports that Ray Ozzie, who worked as Microsoft's chief software architect from 2006 to 2010, told an audience at a technology conference on Wednesday, "People argue about 'are we in a post-PC world?'. Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world."

However, Ozzie added, "That doesn't mean the PC dies, that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things."

Ozzie also stated that it's too early to tell if Windows 8 will be a success for Microsoft. He said:

If Windows 8 shifts in a form that people really want to buy the product, the company will have a great future. In any industry, if people look at their own needs, and look at the products and say, 'I understand why I had it then, and I want something different', they will not have as good a future. It's too soon to tell.

Ozzie left Microsoft in 2010 and helped to found a new company, Cocomo, in 2011. Details about that new venture are still vague but Ozzie has said it will concentrate on communication and mobility in some way.

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33 Comments

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I'm surprised that many of the comments here are so backward.

We're in a Post PC era; except it seems that many people do not understand what this means.

Post PC era does not mean we live in a computing world without personal computers. It means the growth of the industry is dominantly from mobile devices (i.e. Android, iOS devices etc).

The shift has already begun. Last week I had an eye exam and health check. The health instruments were connected to a custom-made touch screen tablet instead of a Windows-based PC.

From a business to consumer perspective, there is little profit to be made from PC building -- all good businesses know this. Microsoft knows this (i.e. Windows 8 suitable for tablets). Mobile devices, mobile applications, mobile bandwidth is one of the most profitable segments of the industry.

Today it is necessary to have a personal computer to live in the modern world. However with the significant growth of mobile devices and tablets, it's only a matter of time when a tablet will offer Mr Average Joe everything he needs!

margrave said,
Doesn't pc stand for personal computer?

Why yes it does.

Then aren't all these tablets just handheld personal computers?

The word PC is legacy term that was originally intended for desktop form factor computers. Refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer

Daniel_Pooh said,
NO? THEN I DONT ****ING WANT IT!

Really? The IT world is more than a computer game.

People should really stop this nonsens.

PC's are not going anywhere, the market is not shrinking, it's growing. Tablets, no matter how powerful they are, can't and never will take over PC's.

Half of the things I deal with daily can't be done on mobile nor tablets. (Talking about gaming, php coding, photoshop and java coding)

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
People should really stop this nonsens.

Half of the things I deal with daily can't be done on mobile nor tablets. (Talking about gaming, php coding, photoshop and java coding)

Interesting to note that everything you said is far from what 95% (the majority) of consumers do (i.e. PC gaming, PHP coding, PhotoShop, Java Coding).

I never said Post PC means No PC.

post pc world , bla bla bla
give me a break,
there is nothing that can change the traditional pc.
Far more power , far more pro software , pc games are much better etc .....
When they bring AE , PS , Ai , Vegas , Sound Forge , Ableton and many other cool software like this, they can say post pc world.

Doesn't pc stand for personal computer?

Why yes it does.

Then aren't all these tablets just handheld personal computers?

I think so. I think it's so silly in these iPad ads them saying that we're past the pc era, and yet they're selling a handheld pc.

Marketing at it's best I guess.

a tablet or smartphone is never going to do things as well as pc's can...such as mmo's, photoshop to take but two of the thousands of thinsg pc's are used for everyday, both at home and in the workplace.

Not without perhipherals such as mice and keyboards added to them....ohh wait that's then a pc.

Robertuzzu said,
For me, tablets and phones are just PCs in another form factor. They are "personal computers".

Tablet PCs yes, iPad and clones no; Smartphones could be there in the future although they are limited by the very limited screen size.

I agree with him. Although I am not an Apple user except for an old ipod 2nd gen. (I own no other Apple products). IMO most people use thier computers for email, web browsing, facebook and that's about it. What in the world would these people need a desktop for? Some of you are thinking that just because you play high end games on them or that you do Photoshop type work that the rest of the world does also. Come back to reality and look at the demographics. Mom and Dad, Sister, Brother, Aunt and Uncle. Take a good look at them. What do they REALLY do with their computers? Do they really need the power of a desktop? A majority of them don't do much other than the things I've mentioned. The desktop PC for the average user is going to go away and it's going to be replaced by portable devices. It's already happening.

We are in a post-PC world, where the PC is still around, but the PC just is no longer going to be the center of our computing needs. Understandable for any real person who doesn't live the Apple religion.

I'm not sure there isn't a time coming where networked computers will be so pervasive we'll actually forget we're "online" or "logged on" etc. I don't think if I have grandkids in the latter half of this century that they'll have heard that word (assuming the world doesn't collapse by then . . .)

FalseAgent said,
We are in a post-PC world, where the PC is still around, but the PC just is no longer going to be the center of our computing needs. Understandable for any real person who doesn't live the Apple religion.

The PC is still hugely important, it's just no longer the sole substantial computing device that people use now that portable hardware can cover a large fraction of its usage. Basically it is becoming a high end device for the applications that require either massive amounts of computing power or else need the input devices that it uses (though these can easily be plugged into a tablet).

The future for the PC in the non-Mac sense is compromised in this scenario. When you can get a tablet or even a smartphone and do a large chunk of what you used to be able to do on a cheap PC (I suspect for many users ALL of what they used to do on it) then the PC has to go upmarket. At this point the PC ends up competing with the Mac at similar price points and Apple's market share in PCs (in the generic sense including both PCs and Macs) is likely to go up. The advantages a high end PC can have over the current Macs are largely in the area of gaming (ironically the Xbox does Microsoft no favours here) and raw power per unit currency as well as more sensibly priced upgrades are not really present with the big OEMs like Dell and HP where the hardware is almost as closed as Apple's. Most consumers will be impervious to spec sheets, particularly as virtually any computer they buy will be "good enough". And however great Windows 8 might be, you can run it on a Mac, which is probably enough of a comfort blanket for people to take the plunge and then never actually buy it.

This leaves Microsoft still holding the cards in the business world where Windows is far more suited to enterprise deployment, and they have a hugely superior server offering to anything Apple has and are safe for the foreseeable future from the Linux vendors. And there's no reason for business to waste money on Apple hardware to run Windows. So Microsoft isn't going anywhere here, so long as they are prepared to listen if Windows 8 doesn't succeed in time to sort things out for Windows 9 which I'm sure they will.

The key to Microsoft ever getting back to its heyday has to be in winning the war in the tablet space, which is presumably why they are taking such a gamble on Windows 8. They also need to offer the best cloud and device integration. If it can marginalise the iDevices then the halo effect may bolster the PC and push them back up again.

I think the business world would disagree and isn't Windows 7 the fastest selling operating system of all time? Sort of goes against what they're saying really.

Ever tried doing something productive on a tablet? Do me a favour.

jamesclarke555 said,
I think the business world would disagree and isn't Windows 7 the fastest selling operating system of all time? Sort of goes against what they're saying really.

Ever tried doing something productive on a tablet? Do me a favour.


and the funny thing is that Windows 8 is the next Windows 7.

jamesclarke555 said,
I think the business world would disagree and isn't Windows 7 the fastest selling operating system of all time? Sort of goes against what they're saying really.

Ever tried doing something productive on a tablet? Do me a favour.

Mind to elaborate? The main differences between my Desktop and my Tablet PC are the screen size and a physical keyboard (Something I could use with the Tablet too).
Granted the desktop is more powerful but honestly I never fond myself short of raw power when using the Tablet PC other than when I play games.
Granted if you run scenarios about the effects of nuclear explosions or earthquake you would need a lot of power, more than even the most powerful workstation could offer.

Ray understands it: it doesn't mean the PC is dying; it means the computing landscape is changing again. You could say that when the TV came into mainstream, we were living in a post-radio world, but that didn't mean it would replace the radio, as some people thought.

Meph said,
Ray understands it: it doesn't mean the PC is dying; it means the computing landscape is changing again. You could say that when the TV came into mainstream, we were living in a post-radio world, but that didn't mean it would replace the radio, as some people thought.

No, but TV was more central to how people consumed media than radio.

The only point I disagree with this line of thinking on is I don't think tablet-computing in terms of independent, simplified devices, like the iPad, will overtake PC-computing in how central it is to people's every day lives. I think everyone will still own a PC in the future. In fact I think what'll be more likely is we'll see is and PCs merge into multi-function devices.

They still have PCs in Mass Effect. That's in the future, but they also have tablets and omni tools.

Mass Effect is an accurate depiction of the future.

Enron said,
Mass Effect is an accurate depiction of the future.

Of course!
Interestingly, people also seem to favor orange monochromatic Kindle-like readers over usual tablets.

cralias said,

Of course!
Interestingly, people also seem to favor orange monochromatic Kindle-like readers over usual tablets.

I guess those people have very limited needs..... In 2002 I replaced my laptop with a Tablet PC and I never looked back; iPad and clones are nice but not a replacement for a full fledged laptop.

smooth3006 said,
im soo sick of hearing this, for the LAST TIME...PC's are going no where.

That's not what the article you're commenting to was suggesting.

smooth3006 said,
im soo sick of hearing this, for the LAST TIME...PC's are going no where.

They didn't imply the PC was going away. It's that the PC will no longer be the dominant device.

lunarworks said,

They didn't imply the PC was going away. It's that the PC will no longer be the dominant device.

Well, logically, "post-PC" means time when PC is not needed, irrelevant, rather than not dominant. So we're still pretty far from post-PC.

Mass compulsive consumption has indeed shifted to another world. All the work is still getting done and will be getting done on workstations, though. And I'm happy with that.

In short, "it's too soon to tell" if Microsoft will be able to cash in on iFad.

"That doesn't mean the PC dies, that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things."

- so i should start calling my PC's iElephant.in.the.room