Predictions of the next big thing in computer technology are often cloaked in the hyperbole of grand ideas and lifestyle determinants. Product launches take this to a natural conclusion with all the fanfare necessary to capture the imagination as well as a healthy market share. What is clear in the latest big ideas, whether for business or leisure, is that computers are on the move. Virtualisation, cloud computing, the latest laptops, netbooks, phones and tablets have all helped shape mobile communications and entertainment. Yet there is life in desktop PCs still and what is under the hood is no less dynamic and every bit as functional.
It is an exciting time for the tech-savvy consumer, a time when digital technologies finally realise their potential for complete lifestyle integration. The days of sitting at a work desk communicating via a LAN connection are history and, with business networking gone mobile, there are ever increasing overlaps between business and leisure spaces, in both real and virtual worlds. In the current climate there must be value for money too, a cost-effective imperative which has seen virtual and cloud technologies take business computing by storm.
The benefits of virtual machines are obvious. Having multiple operating system environments in a single machine certainly allows for increased functionality but the true benefits come from ease of maintenance and off-site disaster recovery. Process virtualisation is a key ingredient too, particularly with regards to the huge array of available mobile apps, perfectly suited for this single process technology. It is a natural evolution of virtualisation into public or business cloud computing, where the key benefits are efficient application delivery, data storage and data recovery.
Advances under the hood of desktop PCs are, as ever, microprocessor driven but with some very new and radical developments too. With 64-bit technology finally achieving industry standard status, high use CPU intensive applications such as gaming, multimedia recording and editing have more than enough RAM to cope. Additionally, after the success of dual-core processing, quad core, employing high end Intel processors, has entered into the mainstream and even eight-core is available, courtesy of Sun Microsystems Niagara chips.
Where the radical new developments come into desktop PCs is in expanded functionality. Just as TV goes 3D, computers take on the TV and even other computers in Wi-Fi range, but the most significant development is in touch screen technology as seen with the latest Hewlett Packard desktops. Just as with mobile technology, this is intended as an ergonomic, intuitive and interactive experience.