As Microsoft continues to reboot a stodgy hardware industry around Windows 8, Surface Tablet and Windows RT portable tablet/netbook designs have been the first two rounds of thought-provoking different. Everything so far has been portable and interactive and touchscreen and that's all good, but there are another couple of pieces waiting in the wings. A reinvention of the traditional desktop and a local storage server are the next two cards Microsoft will likely put on the table in the weeks to come.
I expect a rebooted desktop PC using Windows 8 will be slimmer and smaller than the traditional 5.25-inch-ish wide tower designs that have been a standard form factor for the past decade. The actual box holding CPU and storage may end up being mistaken for a DVR or large hard drive, depending on how manufacturers package it.
Complementing the new desktop/side boxes will be a range of LCD touchscreens and next-gen keyboards incorporating touchpads. Unlike Apple, you won't be forced into abandoning the mouse for a touch interface. Instead, users will have multiple choices so they can mix and match touch with keyboards and mice. Also look for Retina-display-like resolution supported -- if you can afford the price premium.
You'll see more all-in-one monsters too, but they haven't been that successful due to a higher price tag and this bizarre desire to thrust a very expensive piece of hardware into the kitchen or living room. Look for more affordable Windows RT tablets to get a foothold into the family living spaces for quick reference/quick work applications.
All of Windows 8 RT portability, be it tablet, hybrid tablet/netbook and more traditional notebook designs, needs to tie into bigger storage for backup and archival purposes, for things like photos and movies. The final piece to the new Windows 8 hardware puzzle is a server with multiple gigabytes of storage and fast I/O. Expect something with GigE, all the latest and greatest wireless standards from 2.4 GHz through 5 GHz and maybe even some 60 GHz sneaking, multiple TB-size drives, and USB 3.0 support. RAID is also likely to be a standard feature.
Expect the software to come with the home server to do a much more elegant job of mirroring/backing up to Microsoft-based storage solutions (i.e. SkyDrive), with the ability to keep incremental "Time Capsule" style backups on file in "the cloud." Home users will want both all access/sharable cloud storage of things like photos and documents along with doomsday protection of their data against loss of server due to anything from simple hardware failure to a disaster that destroys the hard drive.
People have gone from storing family photos in (print) albums and shoeboxes to hard drives, but you could never back up your shoeboxes.
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