The PC is back again. But for how long? | Job Binary

In recent years, PC sales have gradually declined, for the obvious reason that with the advent of smartphones and tablets, the one-size-fits-all approach that PCs offer has become less important, primarily. the consumers

That changed with the pandemic, as many people quickly realized that while tablets and smartphones are useful for watching videos or sending a few messages, they are much less useful for long hours of work or studying.

Until something better comes up, that old screen and keyboard combo is better than a screen for creative tasks. As a result, PCs have seen their biggest growth in a decade, with PC sales up 14% this year to 350 million.

Part of that was organizations buying notebooks to replace locked desktops in offices they couldn’t access, and part of it was families buying devices to entertain and educate during the lockdown.

By 2023, vendors will sell an unexpected 130 million more PCs than expected just a couple of years ago. And if it weren’t for the supply chain problems that have plagued the entire tech industry, PC makers would probably be selling even more.

Microsoft’s Panos Panay recently called this the “age of the PC,” stating: “There is now a new hybrid infrastructure – across work, school and life – that allows greater flexibility in where and how time is spent. And it’s the computer. the site.”

The PC is back in fashion, it seems. But how long will that last?

Microsoft certainly argues that the PC is back for good.

“Windows now powers more than 1.4 billion monthly active devices, with overall time spent on Windows up 10% from before the pandemic. This quarter, through research on our customers, Windows participated, we saw nearly 50% growth we had in people who intend to use their PC for creativity, play or work. We continue to see people in institutions, schools and homes accept the benefits of a PC for every individual,” said Panay.

It’s certainly true that future technologies (like virtual reality and augmented reality) that some thought would be useful during the pandemic and lockdowns have had little impact.

The familiar form and functionality of the computer won out, though it took the rapid evolution of decent collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to help us all get the job done.

However, there are tens of millions more computers in households today than would otherwise be the case.

Undoubtedly, Panay remains upbeat: “Windows will continue to be the backbone of innovation, a destination for gaming, creativity and exploration, and a gateway to the Metaverse,” he says.

But will all those new laptops and computers start gathering dust as we get back to normal? Perhaps because the freedom to travel frees us from home offices and allows us to roam again. Maybe not, because distance work and distance education remain part of the new hybrid world.

Certainly, the days of the computer as our only technological option, or even our primary device, are long gone. But perhaps the unexpected return of the computer is a reminder that technology can be more than passive use. It’s a reminder that we can use technology to create, not just as a means to absorb what we’re given on those tiny screens.


Monday Morning Opener is the opening salvo of the week in technology. As we run a global site, this editorial is published on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. A member writes for ZDNet’s global editorial board, which is made up of our senior editors from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.


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