Microsoft's Next PC Reboot Pieces - Desktop & Storage

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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.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

Contributing Editor

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