The death of the PC counter-argument

We spend a lot of time talking about the death of the PC, but Microsoft is always happy to offer a well-reasoned rebuttal.

"If you have money for just one device to send your kid to college with, it’s going to be a MacBook or a PC laptop," said Microsoft director of corporate communications Frank Shaw, in a conversation with CNNMoney in late June.

Shaw noted that PCs offer storage, processing power and networking. But networking has always been the “weak sister,” he said, pointing to the iPhone’s connectivity problems as a recent example. 

"So why bet everything on the weakest link?" he asked of people predicting the death of the PC. Most PCs dwarf the processing power and storage capabilities of tablets like the iPad.

Do you agree with Microsoft? -David

I’m a PC! Oy…

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Source: Toshiba.com

I successfully purchased my first PC since I bought a Compaq Presario in 2001, which ran the gawd-awful Windows Me. I then went Mac and swore I’d never go back.

But Windows 7 is pretty nifty. Consumer Reports ranked the Toshiba Satellite line very highly, and their laptops are half the price of a MacBook. So I caved.

About an hour into my online shopping search, I began to regret that decision.

With the Mac, the selection is limited to “walled garden” options that make sense: Do you want small, medium, or large? With the Satellite, there were SIXTY different options in the L650 line alone, and each one of those options was customizable. Do I want a 320 GB hard drive with integrated Intel graphics or a 250 GB hard drive with the faster NVIDIA card? 3GB of memory and a webcam or 4GB and no webcam? Oh geez…

I ended up with the Satellite L650-BT2N15, which, for the record, is way better than the L655-S5083. I hope. -David

Ballmer in Wordles: It’s all WINDOWS

I like feeding speeches to Wordle to see what keywords pop up. So here’s Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote last year, when he famously showed off “slate” prototypes. Three weeks later, Apple unveiled the iPad, and those prototypes became vaporware.

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And here’s this year’s speech, delivered last night:

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Lest there be any doubt what Microsoft views as its once and future product franchise … 

(You can see the full Wordles over in their gallery.) -Stacy

The best part of HP’s $800 Slate tablet

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Crappy photo: me

Hewlett-Packard launched its Slate tablet today, which runs Windows 7.

The best feature? Microsoft is making HP display its lovely Windows license tag on it!

Windows license tags really are a stunning visual addition to any hardware device. Their majestic blues, deep reds and emerald greens add a perfect compliment to the wonderfully captivating bar codes, product key codes and security threads. 

And, as you can see in the photo above, the stickers hardly ever tear, rip, or shred. 

Boring Apple just engraves its licenses on the back of its dull iPad. And, really, who engraves anything anymore? It might as say “Donated in the memory of Hyman and Judith Berkowitz.”

So I applaud Microsoft and HP for putting the Windows licence tag on the Slate.  I can’t wait to get one so I can play Minesweeper on the subway. -David

Confessions of an überdork: Windows 7 funny math

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is notoriously sketchy about its Windows sales. The company measures its best-selling product by license sales, not actual product sales, which can be a little tricky and confusing.

Nevertheless, Microsoft Windows 7 has been selling fast. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the OS going on sale, and Microsoft said it has sold 240 million licenses.

But here’s the announcement the company put out:

"This morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that since that release, Microsoft has sold 240 million licenses. That’s 7 copies of Windows 7 sold every 7 seconds.  Making it the fastest selling Windows OS in history.”

So I initially thought the “7 sold every 7 seconds” part was just a cute way of Microsoft reusing the number 7. As Julianne said, “ever hear of the lowest common denominator?”

But then, because I’m an überdork, I did the math.

365 days * 24 hours / day * 60 minutes / hour * 60 seconds / minute = 31.5 million seconds in a year. 240 million licenses / 31.5 million seconds = 7.6 licenses per second.

I’m sure it was just a typo. …or maybe that’s the reason Windows Me killed my Compaq way back in 2001? -David

Android Vista?

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It doesn’t have a 90%+ market share, so it hasn’t gotten nearly the publicity that Microsoft’s Windows Vista debacle received, but Google’s latest Android update is causing some very Vista-like problems.

Users have reported that Froyo, the popular name for Android OS 2.2, has caused, as Android Central put it, “random bugs, general weirdness, and plain old unsatisfactory performance.” 

I can speak from experience. I have a Motorola Droid, and after upgrading to Froyo, my phone’s battery life has gotten noticeably worse, and the phone randomly slows down to a crawl. Sometimes I can’t access my home screen without swiping my finger to the left or right and then waiting about 10 seconds for all of my apps and widgets to load up.

After a factory reset, which Verizon Wireless recommended, things didn’t get any better.

It turns out, Verizon was only half right. Posted on Android Central yesterday was a long-awaited solution to Froyo bugs … I hope. After upgrading from Eclair, or Android OS 2.1, a factory reset needs to be done, but the disgruntled user also needs uncheck an “Automatic restore” box to stop Google from automatically restoring all of the apps and other data that was causing the problems in the first place.

Oy.

So far, my Droid is working better. But as a Google fanboy, I’m now thinking something I thought I’d never think: “When’s the iPhone coming to Verizon, again?” - Dave

Is Mac really $1,000 ahead of the curve?

I got a lot of interesting feedback on my story called "We love our computers — but love Macs best," which was posted yesterday.

In the story, I noted that you can buy PCs for half the cost of a Mac with similar features. In one case, an HP laptop could be had for $1,150 less than a similar MacBook.

But many readers said that the extra cost is worth it. Some said they are fed up with their PCs dying and crashing on them, and the satisfaction of knowing that their Macintosh will last them a long time is worth all that dough.

Others said that there are hidden costs in buying a PC that, combined with the initial price of the computer, add up to more than you’d pay for a Mac: Anti-virus software, the accompanying anti-virus support subscription, and tech support can be pricey.

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Despite all of the positive reviews for Windows 7 and some truly Mac-like features on many new PCs (I mean, seriously, how different do these two computers look above), some people just aren’t going to be won over.

"Microsoft simply does not work, wrote Facebook commenter John Faison.  "In addition, it is unreliable and the cause of endless frustrations. Microsoft simply does not have the patience to work out all the bugs before it releases the software."

And, of course, there were the PC fanboys who think Macs are nothing but shiny, expensive objects designed to fool Steve Jobs’ minions into wasting their money.

"So many Mac-loving sheep enjoy their silly toys because that’s what they are - toys. One day they’ll grow up and become a real computer," said Charlie Wyatt. 

- Dave

(Photos, courtesy of Apple, Toshiba.)