Meet the New PC: Not the Same as the Old PC

Revolutions are chaotic: They upset the status quo, and leave old ways of doing things behind. The PC, once the spearhead of the personal digital revolution, may seem antiquated alongside sexy new tablets and smartphones. In reality, however, the PC is an intimate participant in the current revolution, changing its own nature to respond to new usage models and a new generation of users. If anything, --a Windows 8 PC posing as a tablet--demonstrates the PC’s flexibility and relevance in the modern digital era.

The new computing revolution is upon us, driven by a legion of users and developers creating new ways of interacting with data, and with one another, in an always-connected world. And the new PC has stepped up to address the needs of users and application builders who have never known a world without the Internet. Apple and Microsoft are creating uniform operating environments, enabling a seamless transition from mobile phone to PC or Mac, all connected via cloud services. Windows 8 is leading the way, with the same OS core at the heart of Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8 on the PC.

The PC is undergoing its most radical makeover since the advent of the IBM PC three decades ago. Pundits like to call this the "post-PC era," but the PC remains the hub of our digital lives. Call it a PC, call it an Ultrabook, call it Surface--it’s still a personal computer to the core.

Always-on connectivity, the cloud, and easy mobility define today’s personal technology revolution. Users have had a role in the revolution, embracing digital media consumption instead of viewing digital devices as mere tools. Users of smartphones and tablets--in particular, iPhone and iPad owners--blazed the trail. As in the early age of the personal computer (before the IBM PC), the nascent smartphone market was highly fragmented, with diverging views of what users wanted. These days, after the rise of the iPhone, almost all phones look startlingly similar. Having a data plan with your smartphone is now mainstream; it wasn’t always that way.

After a slow start, PC makers are now embracing the change. Inspired by the MacBook Air, Intel’s Ultrabook program is driving mainstream adoption of ultrathin, ultraportable PCs that make far fewer compromises than the . The majority of these designs--including Apple’s--are based on Intel hardware.