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The End of Windows 7 ‘Marks the End of the PC Era Too’

ZDNet’s UK editor-in-chief Steve Ranger argues the end of Windows 7 “marks the end of the PC era, too.”

When Windows 7 launched, the iPhone and its app store were around but were still novelties, while the iPad hadn’t arrived yet. If you wanted to get work — or pretty much anything — done on a computer, you needed a PC. Just over a decade later, the picture is much more complicated.

PC sales have been in decline for the last seven years; a slide which only ended with a small increase last year, largely because businesses needed to buy new PCs to run Windows 10, after bowing to the inevitable and upgrading. In many scenarios and use cases the PC has been superseded by the smartphone, the tablet or digital assistants embodied in various other devices. And it’s not just the PC — Windows is no longer the defining product for Microsoft that it once was.

That’s not to say the PC is dead, of course: I’m typing on one now, and it will remain the primary device I use to do my job for the foreseeable future. Many office and knowledge workers will feel the same. But there are now plenty of other options: I could be using a tablet or dictating to my phone… And outside of work I barely touch a PC at all.

And even the definition of the PCs is getting blurry. PC makers have come up with a late burst of creativity that has delivered all manner of weird and occasionally wonderful new shapes and sizes. Microsoft’s Surface is a PC that looks a lot like a tablet; Lenovo’s X1 Fold is a folding screen that can be a tablet, or a mini laptop or a desktop. Folding and detachable PCs are now mainstream.

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