The real PC killer: Smartphones or Windows 8?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: May 1, 2013

I’m sure you’ve all come across the same articles I have from time to time since the release of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows, Windows 8. Most of them generally support each other in the statement that they believe that Windows 8 is “killing the PC”.  Perhaps in part they’re right, but I also believe there's another relative component when it comes to decreased PC usage, and I believe that part of the equation rests in our very hands - our smartphones.

As both an owner of a Windows 8 desktop PC and a smartphone, I can honestly say that both have attributed to the fact that I never have a dire need to visit my PC anymore other than work-related reasons. I have found (and previously mentioned) that Windows 8 was more suited for devices like tablets, not desktops. The idea of Windows 8 was to sort of connect the same interface that their tablet and smartphone software already used; however, I have found that in the end it just doesn't work out to be as convenient. There is a desktop version of Windows 8, which is what I find myself using all when I do use my computer, but I am finding that after engaging with the interface of a smartphone that connecting with a desktop or PC is anything but convenient.

Convenience has become very important in today's society. We're always on the move, and it always seems as if there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Not everybody has the means to sit down at a computer at home, or carry around a clunker of a laptop, and spend time connecting with friends, family, or the news. Smartphones have been able to provide us a quick and convenient way to check and use all of these things conveniently, and it's only getting easier as time goes by.

For most major social networking platforms, news websites, and even media programs (Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube) that initially started with computer users in mind, there's most likely a corresponding application on one of the four major platforms. What would take me 30 minutes of computer time might take me 15-20 minutes in smartphone time. We also have the added convenience of getting comfortable in just about any piece of furniture we choose to sit or lay down on. While you can argue that laptops also provide a sense of convenience when it comes to comfort while computing, I have to bring up the fact that I have never once known anybody who has comfortably been able to hold their laptop over their head for a prolonged period of time while lying down. If there is anybody out there that has successfully done so, they probably didn't get much done. But I digress. The point here is that convenience is key, and smartphones are where we're going to find it.

Even when it comes to gaming we're starting to get to that point where graphics look and work way better on a mobile phone than they do on many computers. A general, ever day desktop computer can cost anywhere from $300-$400, and most of the time those aren't built to run games with heavy graphics well. Unless you're savvy in building your own gaming computer, a good gaming PC can cost upwards of $800 or more depending on just how good you want games to perform. I will never forget the first time I downloaded a "graphic heavy" game (for my phone) and didn't expect it to run very well, but to my surprise it ran very smoothly. I still have not come across a game that my phone can't handle, and I imagine gaming will only get better as time more powerful phones come out.

As of right now, the most that PCs can offer over smartphones are PC specific applications like Photoshop, Office ( which is also available on the Windows Phone platform, of course, but I believe it's still more convenient working from a computer), etc. However, I find that these elements might also soon be outdated. Along with games and social networking, there's also a big market for photo editing applications. While they’re still not nearly as extensive as Photoshop is, it seems like it will only be so long before that changes. Rumor also has it that Microsoft Office is also not far from being ported to Android and iOS, perhaps even sometime within the next year. Tack on a Bluetooth keyboard to the device of your choice and you'll likely have a fully functional Microsoft Office right on your phone.

With all of these elements that was once only part of the computing world now shifting gears to cater to mobile devices as well, I have to question whether it's really Windows 8 that's the PC killer, or if it's perhaps the growing popularity of smartphones that is the main culprit? Although I'm admittedly not a huge Windows 8 fan, if I really had a dire need for a good computer I would have gladly traded up for a Mac or a higher end Windows 7 computer, but it came down to the fact that it would be wasted energy. I don't use any computer enough anymore to justify getting a "good" computer. In many instances, my smartphone works much better.

Readers, what do you think? Do you believe that the smartphone market will soon take over the need to have a desktop or laptop? Do you find that you're using your smartphone more than a computer on a consistent basis? Let me know your thoughts!

Images via Lifehacker, PCWorld