New Microsoft VP consigns the PC to irrelevance

With the Nokia acquisition, Microsoft hardly sees the PC as its future. Upcoming devices will likely further distance Microsoft from its PC past.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Nokia is a pure mobile play. No PC legacy here. Nokia

Is the PC dead yet? No, but Microsoft-owned Nokia makes no bones about its increasing irrelevance.

"The vast majority of people do not have, nor will they ever have a personal computer," Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO and now executive vice president of the Devices Group at Microsoft, said this week about emerging markets in a statement announcing the completion of the Nokia Devices and Services business acquisition by Microsoft.

"They haven't been exposed to Windows or Office, or anything like that, and in their lives it's unlikely that they will," he said.

He went on to say that these people -- "the next billion" -- will more likely be exposed first to a service like Skype rather than Office running on a PC.

I would venture to say that Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft -- which built its business on PCs -- wouldn't take exception to that statement: his new mantra is "mobile-first and cloud-first."

And Nadella, in an earnings conference call this week, spoke about the PC in the past tense.

"Fundamentally, we participated in the PC market. Now we are in a market that's much bigger than the PC market, he said.

The Nokia Lumia 2520 is a great example of that bigger market and the mobile bona fides that Nokia brings to Microsoft.

The internals are a far cry from the PC-like Surface Pro and a step ahead of the Surface. No PC internals or Wi-Fi-only tablets here (a version of the Surface 2 only recently -- in March -- got AT&T 4G).

Inside the 2520 is unadulterated phone tech: that includes the Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor replete with integrated 4G LTE capability on AT&T and Verizon.

It's also lighter than both Microsoft tablets, making it more mobile.

This raises the questions: What will be Microsoft's next move in mobile? And will Lumia-branded phones and tablets live on?

To answer the first question, there's a pretty good chance that an even more mobile Surface Mini is on the way with internals not unlike the Lumia 2520.

To answer the second, I'm guessing Microsoft doesn't know yet either. But it's clear that the company's consumer devices going forward are going to have little, if anything, to do the with the traditional PC.

Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet: Pure mobile tech inside. Microsoft