CES 2014: Microsoft and the PC have seen better days

The PC isn't dead, but Microsoft will have to work hard to stay relevant in an increasingly mobile world in 2014.

Asus Duet: One of the few novel Windows devices. But that's because it runs Android too.
Asus Duet: One of the few novel Windows devices. But that's because it runs Android too. Brooke Crothers

LAS VEGAS -- The PC running Microsoft Windows will have a bumpy ride in 2014.

That's my takeaway from the Consumer Electronics Show after seeing little that was really new from the Windows PC crowd like Hewlett-Packard (at a pre-CES function), Toshiba, Samsung, and others.

In fact, the only truly new/novel Windows device that I saw was the dual-OS Windows-Android Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300.

Of course what makes the Duet unique is that it also runs Android, an operating system that dominates the mobile market. (See CNET video of Duet switching between Windows 8.1 and Android .)

Asus is a big Windows player (just check out any Best Buy today), so any increased emphasis on Android via convertibles like the Duet isn't good news for Windows. Don't think so? Ask Microsoft if it supports the dual-OS effort by Intel and Asus.

And speaking of Android. I had a lot of hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2. While it can't match the Surface Pro 2 (which I'm using now, by the way) in the productivity department (i.e., for document/media creation), the writing is on the wall.

This is the South Korean company's biggest tablet yet (12 inches), and Samsung representatives were quick to show me that it's meant to be used with a Samsung-branded mouse and keyboard.

That sounds like productivity to me -- with an eight-core processor to keep things moving along (a quad-core ARM A15 running at 1.9GHz plus a quad-core A7 running at 1.3GHz).

I spent some time trying out productivity stuff on the Tab Pro like word processing and, to my surprise, it was pretty smooth.

And Samsung talked a lot about windowing too on the Galaxy Tab Pro (see this CNET hands on ). What Samsung calls "enhanced multi window" and "seamless multi-tasking." Hmm...that sounds almost like a desktop environment.

Then there's the Chromebook. Like Android, it falls short of offering the productivity of a Windows PC (not to mention the gaming experience on Windows). But I'm guessing the Chromebook will continue to gain market share in education and other markets as it becomes more functional and powerful.

The Windows PC isn't going away, but it's seen better days. That probably won't change in 2014.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 with keyboard.  There a Samsung branded mouse too that goes with the tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 with keyboard. There is a Samsung branded mouse too that goes with the tablet. Brooke Crothers

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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