Some say the classic PC is dead. Certainly if the digital rights management crowd - led by the infamous Redmond crime family, the McSofties, manage to replace the independent PC the computing world will certainly change. Critics of the "freedom-to-compute-anything" PC would like to replace it with a box that only serves users with products that vendors of software and intellectual property(IP) permit, and get paid for. So the good old general purpose computer under the absolute control of the end-user may not be long for this world.
For most folks who just use their computers for convenience, utility and game play, this won't seem like such a big deal, because you'll still get to send and receive e-mail, kill aliens, and calculate your income taxes. But the unseen consequences are mammoth. Thus when the next generation appliance comes out looking more like a bread-slice toaster than a grill, most folks will find their thin-sliced white bread still seems to fit into the machine, so what's all the fuss? After all e-mails, word processing, and accounting programs still work, and aliens still get killed. Where's the beef?
The old model of the general computer that we still enjoy today is for the most part beholden to no-one. Generally speaking our computers answers to no vendor or manufacturer, and the entity accountable to third parties is you - the user. You are the contact, the purchaser, the user, the employer of the technology. Metaphorically speaking you can grill a steer a slice at a time as effectively as you can grill bread, and your grill is a private tool - with no-one able to see you work on your secret recipes. The new computer toasters though, are something completely different.