H4cked Off: Rumours of the death of the desktop have been exaggerated

By Graeme Burton
13 Aug 2012 View Comments
AMD Fusion desktop computer

There's any number of analysts, pseudo-analysts, commentators and warmed-up journalists willing and eager to proclaim the "death of the desktop".

Further reading

Computing, they say, is getting smaller, more personal and more disposable (thanks Apple!) and the desktop is little more than a dinosaur, whose extinction is now overdue.

The latest doom-mongers include respected analysts Gartner, whose latest figures suggest that sales of desktop computers fell by more than 12 per cent, year-on-year, in the second quarter.

There may be any number of reasons for this – companies across Europe putting off upgrades due to the economic environment, or consumers, excited at the prospect of a new operating system from Microsoft, due in the autumn.

Well, it might be true on the one hand that people are using smartphones and tablet computers more and more as convenient devices for doing many of the things that, 10 years ago, would have been done on a desktop computer. But on the other hand, there's many things that a desktop computer still does better and more cheaply than any number of Cupertino's disposable devices, or even laptops.

For example, a monitor-free desktop computer will set you back just £200 today – less than half the price of an Apple iPhone. It'll be more powerful too because you're not paying for miniaturisation, and your landline-based broadband will also be cheaper than a 3G contract, faster and with fewer limitations.

More crucially, perhaps, spend a little more and the desktop PC can be easily upgraded to suit both your pocket and your needs. Faults can be easily and more cheaply fixed, and the device can be turned to so many more and different applications.

Conclusive unscientific evidence
If you suddenly feel the need to learn AutoCAD, at most a desktop PC will probably just need a new graphics card. I dread to think what kind of experience it would be to run AutoCAD on an Apple iPad – many of which will cost the same or more than a decent desktop PC.

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