What Is The Future Of Desktop Computers? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Ads by Google

polls   What Is The Future Of Desktop Computers? [MakeUseOf Poll]Last week we asked you what you think of the new MacBook Pro. This powerful and expensive machine had the world blazing last week, some with positive opinions, some with negative. MakeUseOf readers were no different, and no clear consensus could be reached in the poll or in the comments. There was one opinion, however, that was by far the most popular.

Out of 533 votes in total, the results were as follows: 11% didn’t even know the new Pro was out, a quite different 11% think the MacBook Pro looks good and are thinking of buying it, 17% think it’s AWESOME, 22% don’t like it (read the comments for the various reasons) and the winning answer, with 39% of the votes, is that it’s probably great, but too expensive.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

So what did we learn from this week’s poll? Most people actually like the new MacBook Pro, whether they think they can afford it or not. Are you surprised?

poll results june 23   What Is The Future Of Desktop Computers? [MakeUseOf Poll]

This week’s poll question is: What Is The Future Of Desktop Computers?

As the MacBook Pro discussion was heating up last week, the topic of desktops vs. laptops was broached. Reader Achraf Almouloudi asked for a poll that will deal with this subject, and this is what we’ll be discussing this week. Laptops have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years, with more and more people opting to give up the desktop in favor of one. Laptops are light, portable, and have recently become quite strong and affordable. On the other hand, there are certain tasks laptops are still not strong enough for, and a 27’’ monitor might not go well with them. So what do you think? Where are desktops heading?

Ads by Google

Tell us in the comments what you use yourself, and why you believe desktops are heading where they are.

Check out more about:

77 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Karl Gephart

Desktops will simply be around in more of a server capacity.

Yaara Lancet

I wonder, if they end up having really small desktops or servers like in the link, would they even be considered desktops anymore? Didn’t think of this before.

Achraf Almouloudi

Just I would like to note up that this picture is from 2005 so serves are really much smaller than this today, if they end up making them in Mac mini size they should keep calling them desktop because they’re designed to be stable on desk but they should have new standards for this size to keep it a desktop so the manufacturing methods would be the same things .

Reply

Reuben Walker

Desktops are way easier to build yourself than any of the other options, and will stay around for the people who like to build things themselves, if not everyone else. They’re also a lot easier to repair. If you don’t need portability, a desktop is the way to go.

Tom Sobieski

“If you don’t need portability, a desktop is the way to go.”
Not for everybody.
A lot of people don’t “need” portability, but “want” it to the extent that laptops and tablets are beating the pants off desk tops.
“Desktops will stay because with desktop its easyer fix than Laptop, since desktops haver standards. And Laptops and tablets dont have standards on how they are built.”
Very true, but how many people, besides us, fix anything? They hardly even maintain, never mind fix.

Yaara Lancet

Desktops really are easier to build and fix at the moment, but as Tom said, most people don’t fix their own computers anyway, so it doesn’t really matter to them.

But yes, I guess for people who like to build and fix their own machines, desktops will always remain appealing. At least until there’s a worthy replacement, anyway. :)

Reply

Dany Bouffard

Desktops will stay because with desktop its easyer fix than Laptop, since desktops haver standards. And Laptops and tablets dont have standards on how they are built.

Achraf Almouloudi

Good argument .

Luis Gomez

You are totally right.

Yaara Lancet

But since most people don’t actually fix their own computer, I guess this still means they will become sort of a niche product. What do you think?

Reply

Terry

In around ten years what I envision for computers are more powerful cell phones running a virtual machine and a thin client connecting to it. With desktops and laptops somewhat becoming thin clients to the VM as well, while also providing a kind of mirrored cluster VM back-end, able to share their processing power and ram as well as providing real-time synchronization and versioning. With Internet access available you will have the combined power of all your devices and any monthly leased power. But if Internet access is non-existent or intermittent you will still have your basic system, apps and data self contained on your phone. I believe we will continue to have larger, easier to see, hear and interact with devices, merely changing to a slightly different roll. So not I don’t see the desktop going away, but rather evolving and possibly not looking like anything we recognize today.

Ravi Meena

I like the idea of Cellphone being a VM and sharing processing power with other devices. but internet will be non-existence in developing countries as well as poor countries. i mean internet will be there but it will not be fast enough to support cloud computing.

Yaara Lancet

Nice vision, I also like how all devices will be sharing processing power. But the question is, if desktops become small, thin, and, well, portable, are they still desktops?

Reply

Truefire_

Desktops will stay around as power-rigs. Laptops/tablets will get less and less easy to repair yourself as they get thinner and smaller, whereas desktops will be more powerful and easier to repair.

Reply

Laga Mahesa

Other.

The definition of ‘desktop’ will change. We’ll no longer have a huge space-wasting box; instead, the concept will change to unobtrustive, hidden away and user friendly.

We’ll still have the large monitors – bigger, with higher resolutions. Even a whole wall, or every wall and ceiling, depending on user preference. The house could track your movements and ‘move’ your desktop display to the nearest viable surface.

Keyboards will still be around in one way or another – either projected or auto-raising from a panel on the desk, which, when not in use, acts as a touch surface or normal desk area. Of course, they wouldn’t be the dedicated typing devices we know now, but more akin to a control panel, with a ‘keyboard’ addon.

The ‘core’ – or ‘desktop’, in modern parlance – could be anything, depending on budget and user desire. At the high-performance end, a small box – think Mac Mini with bells on. At the regular end, a user’s mobile device. All of these, when in proximity to one another, would auto-daisychain, boosting performance without user intervention. Think of the Cell processor and how the US Airforce built a world class mainframe using them.

The future is shiny and extremely interactive.

Achraf Almouloudi

You are talking about the central home computer which we hope to see in the market someday at a truly reasonable price .

Laga Mahesa

Not really – yours is a singular beast, whilst mine is completely modular. There’s a central home INTERFACE, like a power socket, but no actual brain. That you get through other devices.

Yaara Lancet

Sounds awesome!! That truly sounds like the future of desktops to me. There will be a non-protable box they will always stay where it is, but it will be very different from what we have today. It probably would be pretty portable too, technically.

Reply

Achraf Almouloudi

First, thank you for mentioning up . As I could see there is a high portion of users that think the desktop is here to stay for it’s own market . I also see that modern startup use laptop in their offices so it is probably going this way but I would like someone to suggest me what could replace a desktop than a laptop device in professional industry ? which has strong demand on resources by the software they use .

Yaara Lancet

Like several people said, it might still be a desktop, but much smaller than we know it today. Maybe just a small box. It would be pretty portable, though, so I’m not sure if it will qualify as a desktop anymore.

Achraf Almouloudi

In fast I believe desktop should stay but it should become in a modern small design .

Reply

Salman Abdullah

My comment might be off topic. All in one desktop will be a replacement for a tower desktop. So desktops will not disappear but it only involves revolution. Microsoft wants to kill tower desktop because its cheaper and less profit. To kill it, they make an OS look more modern, simple and interactive. By making Windows 8 as the new modern life OS, the tower desktop has now become “stone age” things and not compatible to fit with modernity. Blame Microsoft and Windows 8 for making tower desktop looks so ugly nowadays. All in one desktop sales is up now.

Alan

i don’t Agree simply because of one thing.
Hardcore Gaming…. try fitting multiple GTX 690’s in an ‘All in one’ PC
simple answer… its not going to happen.

Mike DeGeorge

Let alone cool them sufficiently.

Yaara Lancet

Not off topic at all! Thanks for the comment. :)

Reply

Alan

For people that know and REALLY use their computers (and no, using facebook 18 hours a day doesn’t make you a power user), There will always be a place for desktops, as long as there is serious Gamers there will be desktops, as for so called ‘Gaming laptops’ i’ll admit there are some OK ones, but they are too expensive and under powered. Like wise for data entry and office work as Tablets/Touch will never replace good old keyboard and mouse for data entry, mainly due to the ergonomics of using a touch screen in an office environment.

Lisa

Agreed! I prefer my desktop over any laptop, I don’t care how fancy it is. My keyboard and mouse are easy and comfortable to use. If I have to get online while away from home, I use my phone. I don’t need anything more than that. I’m not lugging around a laptop, so why would I buy one? I think a lot of people feel the same way.

Yaara Lancet

I think you’re right, although I haven’t met anyone lately who actually purchased a new desktop.

I owned a desktop up until 3 years ago, and never even thought of a laptop. I bought my first one for a time I knew I would need it, but now I don’t see myself ever going back to a desktop.

Reply

Sherman Franks

While there’s a market for them they’ll exist. It’s no different to any other consumer based product out there. Desktops are for the most part cheaper, less likely to be stolen, and generally more configurable (hardware) than a laptop, or other mobile platform. They may get scarcer in domestic situations, but I see no reason to believe they’ll disappear any time soon.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks!

Reply

Dalsan

Desktops offer more usability and better ability to upgrade, thus lasting years longer than any portable device. It will be used by true power users, full on gamers, and home businesses doing video editing as very little portable devices offer the same range of CPU speed, memory slots, hard drive slots for storage, ability to have multiple video cards running at once, etc. Until a portable device can offer similar abilities, then no portable can really touch the capabilities that a desktop can offer. From what it looks like, more is pushed about having less hardware capabilities while offering decent CPU and memory specs. To go to the point that tablets will drive out desktops is less likely than it would for laptops as tablets are becoming more capable to being almost as usable as laptops, but the extra freedom that desktops offers make it less likely for the desktop to become extinct any time soon.

Reply

Fred Gowin

Personally, I enjoy my desktop. The big clear LED screen, the wireless keyboard and mouse – the future I can imagine would still have a desktop, although it may be more plug and play. I see the OS in the firmware, and more removable hard drives, with lots of USB slots. The control center of the house – security, bill paying, entertainment – all from your desk!

Yaara Lancet

Can’t wait. :)

Reply

John@EconEngineer

Desktops will be around, but instead be something you can have hidden away in a closet. You can access it securely from more mobile stations around the house, or even at work or on your phone. People want more power out of their phones, but they also want connectivity between devices, and they don’t want a large desktop in their main living space. Buy a desktop, hide it in a closet and keep your monitors, mouse/keyboard (or whatever input devices) around the house, these peripherals access the desktop using wireless. Maybe more like a secure server rather than a work-station. Workstations may go away as all you really need now-a-days is a keyboard and some large screenspace (that’s touchable so no mouse needed perhaps).

Yaara Lancet

This sounds like something people would even prefer over a laptop. In fact, compared to this future, laptops sound almost obsolete. Why would anyone want to have a computer with a screen and keyboard stuck on to it, when things can be so free?

In this future, I actually don’t see the laptops we know today surviving.

Andrew Leane

Totally agree! Laptops are the ones that will disappear. Once we have 3D holographic home movies the data requirements will skyrocket. It will be easier to have a central usually stationary ‘desktop’ that contains your data while carrying what smartphones become that streams everything you need. These smartphones will talk to any input/output devices near by allowing keyboard and screen where ever you happen to be.

Reply

KELVORG

Desktops will be personal servers.

Reply

Dominic Chang

I believe desktop would no longer be called desktops. Due to new designs they would not be ending up on your desk as often any more.

Yaara Lancet

They mostly end up on the floor even today. :) But you mean they’ll be much smaller and so forth?

Reply

Ben

I think desktops will be around for a long time though their usage will decrease. Since there are more content consumers than there are content creators, desktop usage for content consumption will decrease in favour of primarily smart-phones, tablets and to a lesser extent laptops. But when it comes to content creation (programming, web design e.t.c) desktops are still top of the line!

Yaara Lancet

Interesting way to look at it, thanks!

Reply

curts

I believe two things will happen in tandem:
1) Tablets and smartphones will continue to become more powerful and will have the ability to be docked with larger displays and keyboards – this will be an adequate desktop computer replacement for many consumers (just look at all the iPod/iPhone music docks available today),
2) Many homes will still want a “heavy duty” computer for doing media conversion, video editing, serious gaming, i.e. used for any applications that require lots of computing cores (CPU, GPU, or APU) to be responsive or don’t need to run all night to complete a task.

For many homes, the “heavy duty” computer may indeed get smaller and can sit in a closet and accessed remotely, much like the home NAS server can today. Or to put it another way, some homes only own a hand saw or skill saw, while others own a table saw or radial arm saw. It all depends on your interests and the required tools.

Tom Sobieski

“I believe two things will happen in tandem:”
I believe you are correct, as it is already in process.
Tablets with attached keyboards (ASUS, MS Surface) are vying for laptop replacement
HMPC’s are already in many homes, doing double duty as entertainment/gaming PCs and they’re either small and unobtrusive, or attractively styled to be unobtrusive, emulating stereo components.
It’s a fact that you can hold more computing power in the palm of your hand (today) than was available to NASA in the past. Tomorrow, who knows what it will be.

Andrew Leane

Agreed

Reply

Gary Smith

Before I began with my comment about desktop computers, I must say “navigating” your opinions and polls section isn’t that great (its a little confusing). The results of your posted poll -here- has nothing to do with the question.

“What Is The Future Of Desktop Computers?”

The desktop is here to stay. As long as the internet lives, so will the PC.

“The computing process has remained the same for many years, and the desktop PC is its best incarnation. What makes a desktop remain a desktop is not these physical changes to it and its peripherals, but the fact that some data will remain local and therefore some processing and storage capability must also remain local.”
And what about Moore’s Law? Will the silicon revolution end and Moore’s law collapse?

Yaara Lancet

Hi Gary,

Sorry you had problems navigating.

The posted results you see are from last week’s poll. We start by telling our readers what last week’s results were, and then we ask this week’s question. Of course we don’t yet have the results for this week’s question, it’s still being voted on.

Was there anything else you found confusing? Please tell us if there is.

And thanks for contributing to the desktop discussion!

Reply

R A Myers

The future may be less broad than it is now (2012 Jun 25) because portable computers will become more versatile. Desktops computers will still be needed because of the common buss that allows them to be configured for specific jobs, i.e. gaming (which I don’t see being taken over by portable computers any time soon). Desktop computers can be modified, re-modified and upgraded from the mother board up. Even if portable computers (ever) get a common buss, the don’t have the physical capacity that a desk top computer has. Desktop computers are more versatile. I have parallel/Centronics, serial, USB and WifFi devices directly connected to my desktop computer. Try that portable computer! Without an external USB hub and a bunch of dingles/dongles, which about half of them don’t work the first one you try you won’t get very far.

Yes, I have two portable computers. One is a 14 inch Gateway for traveling with a GPS interface, email and limited office capabilities. The other is a 9 inch Toshiba for overseas travel which has controls my software defined radio for shortwave listening (USB), email and limited office capabilities (printer swaps USB port) and photo management. The other accessory is an external 2 TB hard disk drive.

I also have PortableApps system and some standalone portable applications on a 32 GB flash card. How ever, laptop computers will still be around.

My desktop computer does all the two portable computes can do and more.

Yaara Lancet

Sounds like you have a great setup!

Reply

Susendeep Dutta

I use desktop and it’s here to stay for very long time.Those who say that it’ll disappear or anything must also consider that creation of apps and other creativity comes from desktop only.The comfort of desktop like keyboard,big screen and powerful CPUs can never be matched by any other ultraportables.Although,people’s needs has changed over the due course of time but that doesn’t justifies the death of the desktop.For gamers,they will always prefer desktop rather than buying $1000 gaming laptop.

Reply

Rich

Desktops can fill a space not available to laptops, so they will never go away. Functionality being the point: for cad design, videography work, graphic and photography work, and huge database work. Laptops; tablets, and smart phones are great but do not have the power handling, expandibility, or the screen space to do computing intensive work. The office, work shop, and the research industry will always need more power than is available in the foreseeable computing future. Also wireless connections are still far behind the standard of wired networks.

Yaara Lancet

Good points!

Reply

shaurya boogie

There is one harm of a desktop, you cant take it along with you.

Alan

Is that such a problem? sometime i like to disconnect from the virtual world and go outside…

Mike DeGeorge

Exactly. And, if you had an expensive desktop, _would_ you want to take it with you? Probably not. I know I’m pretty much against people touching my computer. Considering the fact that I’ve put almost $2,000 into it.

Reply

TtfnJohn

Pads and laptops will continue to get market share, even from office users as distinct from Office users.

There will continue to be memory and processor heavy programs such as Photoshop and its cousins, say in CS6, that gobble up clock cycles like there’s no tomorrow. The same goes for programs such as Poser, DAZ Studio, Maya and other 3D programs which, while rendering, can bring even some the most powerful desktop to its knees and takes down laptops in no time at all. Graphics and sound heavy games can do the same thing and often do. They need the power and expandability only a desktop can provide. None of that is about to change.

Computing devices from desktops to smartphones and smaller are tools and users ought to choose the best tool for the job not predictions from places like CNET, who seem more interested in selling product than a relatively neutral perspective.

At the prices these tools go for these days it makes no sense not to use the one(s) that are best suited to the job at hand. Many times it may be a laptop or pad or smartphone. For some applications such as 3D rendering, video editing and effects and heavy duty photo editing there’s nothing that beats a desktop.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the comment!

Reply

TtfnJohn

Computing devices are tools so, in the end, it’s what you’re going to use them for that is central to the choice of desktop, laptop, pad or smartphone.

For example if I’m going to use the machine for 3D work in programs such as Poser, DAZ Studio, Maya or Blender I might be able to put the scene together on a laptop or pad. Rendering the scene will tax the resources of even the most powerful of desktops and will overwhelm any laptop I’ve run across or pad device in short order. High end gaming with plenty of graphics and sound will do the same in most cases.

For office, as opposed to Office, work laptops are just fine. Things like the iPad and Android pad devices still have the jury out on them for that kind of use. Smartphones may have, or may soon have, the power for that kind of use but as yet they are mostly communications devices.

The trick is to choose the right tool for the job. Desktops will be with us for a long time for gaming, processor and memory intensive uses that will take down less capable machines. Laptops will continue to be the tool of choice for many people as they’re portable and can handle almost all commonly used programs and applications. One day, perhaps soon, pad devices may displace many laptops as they adapt to the market laptops occupy right now due to portability the ability to connect to the Internet and other networks from nearly anywhere. Smartphones, in many ways are defining their place in the scheme of things.

At current prices for all of these there’s no reason not to choose the best tool(s) for the job.

Reply

Graham Richardson

the ability to have custom made desktops, or at least choose your own specs maens that desktops are hear to stay, for at least a hard core of users. I have no intention of replacing my desktop at all if I can help it.

Yaara Lancet

I do wonder if laptops, or some incarnation of the laptop won’t have this capability as well. Maybe in a future where desktops and laptops are completely different from what we have now.

Reply

Bisham Maharaj

Sad to say but the time of the desktops is almost up – within 5 years the only place that you may see a desktop unit is in the attic or the storeroom.

Yaara Lancet

What makes you think so? What do you envision as their replacement?

Reply

druv vb

Desktop will stay. Always.
For workers, coders, developers even for hackers.
For engineers, designers, technicals.

And for me, I can’t be playing the latest game coming out on a laptop, unless you buy a new one every year!

You can’t work out video editing on a small machine, plugged on power, killing the batteries with time.

You can’t tab-out of a game (Mass Effect?), browse the net on your second monitor, start your music player, switch back to your game and let those ftp files download to your drive without a decent computer.

Laptops/Tablet or portable computers can do that, but I can’t be carrying a device just for the sake of doing that. I prefer being at home for that.

Imagine your portable device just breaks/ goes in fumes, you replace what, the entire machine….

Yaara Lancet

I love how every comment adds a new perspective on things that can only be done on laptops. Thanks!

Reply

Andrew Leane

Smart Phones will rule eventually. If you want a desktop experience bluetooth connect a large screen, keyboard etc…

Reply

Jane Beckman

I use both, because they fit different niches. Laptops are useful for doing your taxes out back under the gazebo, or taking on vacation to check your email, and surfing the net, but aren’t always practical for real work. I am a tech writer, and may have a dozen windows open, running software, accessing software or references through a browser, and working with a slew of tools. I am now spoiled by huge screens or multiple screens, printer interlinks, and all the functions that a desktop can provide. And I also don’t have to crane my head to awkward angles. Yeah, you can use your laptop with a docking station, but a docking station will set you back, too. And I like a real keyboard that I can set up positioned for comfort. My hands cramp after typing for four or five hours on a laptop.

I’m not an average user, but there are enough non-average users that I don’t think the laptop or tablet will ever completely displace the desktop. Unless there is a server farm somewhere out in the Cloud that can deliver the same functions to a hub with keyboard/screen/speaker/portable storage support. (While dropbox is good, I like the ability to use files that are detached from a network.)

Yaara Lancet

Very interesting points. It’s especially interesting because I’m also a writer, and I can relate to all your points, even though I use a laptop myself. About a year ago I connected one of my old monitors to my laptop, and have been working dual screen ever since. I can’t imagine going back to one screen now. These things definitely grow on you.

Reply

Gerwell Taroma

i’ve been using desktop since 2007, we’ll i do have a laptop at home but i still prefer using desktop especially when i make reports and other stuff that requires me a lot of time sitting in front of a monitor…

and besides, i can customize my desktop, which i think is much easier than a laptop…

Reply

ferdinan Sitohang

Desktop will vanish in the future, it will be replaced with something more flexible as for the function, physics, mobility, transparent.

Reply

Kaashif Haja

Desktops are easy for me to use. I hate using Laptops!

Reply

Andrew Parsons

Still use a desktop to download, but use the laptop and netbook more.

I think the future is the tablet and some form of home dock, the new microsoft tablet seems to be heading in the right direction.

Reply

Chris

I prefer the Desktop computer for reasons people have mentioned already. It’s more powerful so I can run graphically intensive programs on it. For me this is mostly for games. There are 3D applications that require more power.

I believe those of us who like to use Desktop computers are being niche users again. Most people like something more simple now that can do email, documents, pictures, and simple games for casual gaming.

Microsoft Smart Glass is a new technology that will allow you to stream Xbox 360 games to your computer or tablet. I believe Microsoft sees this as the future of gaming. Not people having a desktop PC.

Personally I don’t like the idea of having to have an internet connection always on and having to install apps only through the Windows Store. I don’t like it with IOS or Android either. This is a very restrictive feature that is only really good for the companies as it makes them more money and restricts what people can do with their devices. I’m going to hold on to my desktop as long as I am able as I like the freedom it offers. As I said this type of user will be a niche market in the future. Most people don’t care about weather or not freedom is being taken away from them or that that restrictions are being imposed on them as long as they are getting something that is simple to use. The fact that Apple is doing well is pretty sad considering the restrictions they impose on people and how much they charge people for devices.

Reply

Mufc4Martin

I think that desktops will still be around.I can see virtual keyboards and touchpads/trackpads built into the back of the device same as the SSDs,CPU,RAM etc. (take a look at the new Macs and add to them a virtual keyboard and touchpad projector at the back of it) There will most likely be bigger screens.The area where the keyboard and touchpad would be located when the device is turned on, could be used as a normal desk area when it is turned off.

Reply

Carson

people they will not stay in bussness only in offices!!!

Reply

automan 1

I use a desktop and tablet. I prefer to use the desktop over a laptop. It’s easier to use the keyboard and other attachments

Reply

Giggity Goebbels

If desktops are gone i am gonna rage.i cannot upgrade components as easy as b4.

Reply

Anonymous

I feel like desktops will stick around for a while. However, even as a member of the content-creation crowd, I still use my desktop very rarely. I have a 13″ MacBook Pro, which doesn’t seem like much. That is, until I get home and connect my USB keyboard and mouse, and my 24″ LED monitor. The only thing I use my PC for is burning labels to the audio CDs I produce, which I would do with my Mac if I had a compatible external drive. The MBP gives me everything I need — the portability of a laptop with the power of a desktop.

Your comment