It occurred to me the other day that desktop computers are largely exactly how they were in the late 80’s and early ‘90’s when the PC began to explode onto the market. Think about it, you have a box, a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Sure some things have changed. The color for one thing. No more beige boxes to yellow in our offices. Desktops were replaced with towers but somehow kept the desktop name. And keyboards and mice got a lot slicker looking and can do a lot more than they once could do.
Still, the basic setup has remained the same. The machines today are much more powerful than some of those classic beasts that those of us who have been around long enough can remember. Still, how you use them and how they are setup is pretty much just as it was thirty years ago. Of course, I’m excluding all in one PC’s for this article, but there are always exceptions to the rule. For today, we are focusing on the desktop that we all know and love and, well, despise, in some cases.
Once I realized this lack of evolution, it got me thinking. Why exactly are desktops pretty much the same today as they were so many years ago? There has to be a reason, after all. So today, we attempt to tackle those reasons once and for all. In the paragraphs that follow, you will get at least one writer’s perspective on why desktops remain largely unchanged today as they were so long ago when PC’s were still young and new. My hope is that by reading this, you will understand why they are still virtually identical to their ancestors of yesteryear. I believe that once you do, you will come to a much better understanding and appreciation of the desktop computer as we know it.
If It Ain’t Broke
We all know the old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The same can be said for the desktop computer. Sure little tweaks have been made here and there, with the introduction of the tower being the most significant change to this setup in the last thirty years. Manufacturers hit the sweet spot when they came up with the desktop computer, and I think it was by accident. In the past, you needed the extra room for the components as they were larger and nowhere near as energy and heat efficient. The design of the desktop gave them the space they needed for their components so they didn’t overheat.
At the same time, they found that the size of the keyboards and mice were just perfect for people to use when sitting at a desk, and thus the revolution began that has seen a machine enter every home and business around the country. You can’t turn around without seeing a computer today. Of course, that’s what the early pioneers wanted, and it seems they got just that.
Fast forward to today, the makers don’t want to rock the boat too much as they already know they have a product that people will buy and enjoy using. So, like I said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Ideal Comfort for Work and Play
If there is one thing that the desktop has over everything other type of computer, be that a laptop or even a tablet or smartphone, it is comfort. The keyboards are large enough to fit comfortably on almost everybody’s hands and the mice are full sized and made for less stress on your wrists and arm. At the same time, the larger monitors are easy to read and the desktop ports are easy to find and access with very little effort.
Everything about a desktop just breathes added comfort. Manufacturers discovered that employees at businesses could easily sit at these machines all day and work with very little effort or strain. Sure carpal tunnel has become a big issue and eye strain a problem in our modern workplace, but that’s much better than other problems of the past.
Once they realized this, they began to really pump out the desktop machines, even turning them into small form factor PCs so they took up just a little less space to make squeezing them into even the smallest of workspaces a possibility.
It works the same for gamers as well. Gamers love to be comfortable when they play over long sessions, and the desktop gives them just the comfort they need to play all day or all night on their favorite game.
As hardware has advanced, the price has fallen, which is really great. Today you can get a relatively fast desktop for a fraction of what you used to have to pay. New hardware often comes to desktops first, as well, meaning that you can get the best of the best on your desktop before you will see more efficient versions that can run in laptops and tablets. It’s just the way of the world. It is easier to build these components for a desktop, so that’s what hardware makers do first.
So, you get your hardware first, but you also get it for less. Desktop components are always cheaper than their smaller laptop counterparts. This has kept the desktop in its position for years now in business and at home, as companies look to cut costs while providing their employees with the tools they need to get the job done and gamers look for the best hardware at an affordable price for their limited budgets. In the end this is a good thing, as you can find some of the best hardware and best prices on the desktop, but it is also why it is still around and still popular today.
Resistant to Change
This one probably won’t come as a shock to you one bit. Many people do not like change. I bet you all know more than one person that can’t stand change. They get into their routine and that is how it should stay. Sound familiar?
Because of this fact, many manufacturers have found that the traditional desktop continues to perform well and sometimes it is even responsible for the failure of new designs, no matter how cool or useful they really are. The fact is that people like using computers that they are familiar with, and there is nothing more familiar than a traditional desktop computer.
Since manufacturers know this, they continue to pump out desktops that people will enjoy using even if they also come out with newer, more unique (and sometimes way cool) designs. They know that there is a subset of people that will stick with the traditional desktop through thick and thin and won’t have any desire to try the new designs at all. This continues to breathe life into the desktop and probably will for many years to come.
Continued Backwards Compatibility
Now this one is a big one, if you ask me. Whenever something new comes out, people want it, but they also still want to be able to use the older technology at the same time while they transition to the new. This one factor I think has ensured the survival of the desktop for many years to come. Why? Because in order to maintain this type of compatibility, often the designs had to remain the same or, at the very least, similar, so users could plug in the new devices to their older computers and the new computers would remain compatible with the older peripherals.
This issue still continues today, and is one of the driving forces behind the continued support of the basic thirty-year old design of the desktop. Without it, some devices would stop working and others wouldn’t work quite as well. But by keeping the design and layout similar, new tech and old tech can better merge and users have a much easier time accepting the new technology no matter how resistant to change they may, or may not be.
In fact, I think you can expect this to continue and be one of the main factors that manufacturers still stick with the traditional desktop design, even though you are seeing other types of machines such as all in one devices becoming more and more popular. While the popularity may decrease, in the end there will always be a strong user base for the classic design of the desktop.
The desktop computer, while not as popular as it once was, is still one of the leading computers in the world, and will continue to be for quite some time, if you ask me. While the laptop has taken over the world and the tablet continues to be popular, many people still stick with their desktops as their computer of choice.
As you can see from the information above, there are many reasons for this, and probably many more that I can’t even think of at the moment. Still, with the design perfect for both work and play and the availability of some of the best hardware and best prices on technology, the desktop is far from vanishing from the world of computers any time soon. In fact, I think it will continue to enjoy a long and fruitful life among many different users at both home and the office.
What do you think? I’ve told you why I think the desktop will be sticking around for a long time. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think I left out a few compelling reasons? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.