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 The welcome slump    
 Dated:  Sunday, August 10 2008 @ 01:06 PM PDT
 Viewed:  782 times  
ThoughtsHave we finally broken out of the endless upgrade cycle?

It occurred to me the other day that I was writing a document on Microsoft Office 2000, on a machine built in 2003, using an OS (Windows XP) from 2001. And I said to myself "Cool. I am finally spending more time using my PC than I am upgrading it."

This is as it should be. Classically, the biggest aids to the growth of the PC were it's weaknesses. OS bugs. Application issues. Hardware inadequacies. You needed the next incremental upgrade because this one doesn't work worth a crap. And the one after that when that one didn't do the job either.

At some point, the hardware gets fast enough, and hardware sales start to slump. Office tools get good enough, and sales fall off. The OS gets good enough, why upgrade? The companies who became giant players on this growth paradigm will need to adopt new business models. And probably be a lot smaller.

Mind you, I can see a continued although reduced need for bleeding edge hardware. There will always be gamers and others who are pushing the envelope. How fast does my video need to render? As fast as I can conveniently afford.

I am having a more difficult time seeing an overriding need for another version of Windows. XP is good enough, and it's a moot point anyway -- I can't afford the hardware upgrade necessary to run Vista even if I wanted to. I read the other day an opinion piece where the guy was railing on all of us who hadn't upgraded to Vista as "Vista runs fine on any 3Ghz or better processor". As a geek, I have a number of PCs and laptops at the house, and none of them -- not one -- are that fast. And they run XP (or Linux or OSX) just fine.

I see even less reason for another version of Office. To most of my peers, Office 2000 works just fine, thank you very much. The only thing I have to look forward to with a later version of Office is incompatibility with my associates who are still using Office 2000. There's no point.

Given for the sake of argument I'm not the only person who feels this way, I wonder if we're going to see some shrinkage amongst the large computer companies over the next couple years.

And for the life of me, I can't imagine what Microsoft is going to be selling in the coming decade.

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