Monday, July 6, 2009

The Top 10 Reasons the PC Needs a Makeover

Most people have a love-hate relationship with their personal computer (PC). On the one hand it gives access to the wealth of information and entertainment available on the Internet. On the other hand, it can unexpectedly misbehave and often be frustrating to use. Many people would like to see the PC get a makeover. Here are the top ten reasons why:

1. Start-up Time – Unlike a TV or MP3 player, which starts working almost immediately, a PC takes way too long to become useful after you turn it on. It has to prepare itself for operation by loading software that then loads still more software until all the bells and whistles are in place before it can do anything. This “bootstrap” or “boot” process can take five minutes or more. Users would rather be able to turn it on and begin using it right away rather than drumming their fingers on the desktop waiting for the boot up to finish.

2. Software Bloat – Almost every new application that you load onto a PC automatically adds some code to the boot process so that the application is primed and ready to go if and when you finally ask for it. This additional code – often called “bloatware” – not only increases the boot time for the computer, it uses up system memory. The more that memory fills up, the slower the PC will run (It’s like trying to write a grocery list at a desk cluttered with tax forms and Christmas cards and ten other things; it just isn’t as quick and easy as it should be.) Users want the PC to be quick and consistent, not slowing down over time.

3. Complexity – The PC is designed to be a multi-purpose tool that can do many different kinds of things, most of which most users do not need. As a result, the PC is like a super Swiss Army Knife with 100 blades: complex, bulky, and often awkward to use. Many users want a simple and easy-to-use device that does what they want without a lot of confusing and unwanted complications.

4. Cost – Because of its complexity the PC is expensive, costing much more than nearly any electronic device other than a wide-screen TV. And that’s just for the computer; software costs extra. For many who only use their computer for e-mail, web browsing, and the like, the expense is way out of line for their needs. It’s like being forced to purchase a Lincoln Town Car when all you needed was a golf cart. Users want a low-cost option that does only what they need without having to purchase a lot of fluff.

5. Performance – Just because users want to scale down their PC to simplify operation and lower cost, it doesn’t mean that they will tolerate poor performance. The PC makeover will still need to provide enough performance that users do not have to wait and wait for results. They may not need a Town Car, but don’t want a Go-Cart, either.

6. Reliability – The more complex the machine, the more likely something will go wrong. For the PC, halting operation then displaying an error message is something that occurs so often it has earned its own nickname: “the Blue Screen of Death.” Users want something that runs reliably and does not freeze up due to simple errors or unknown causes.

7. Security – While the Internet is a fantastic source of information, entertainment, and communications, it has the some of lawlessness of the Wild West. There is no police force to prevent cons and vandals from lurking out there. Such people can create innocent-looking or even counterfeit websites and e-mails that, once you access them, will load onto your computer viruses that can trash its operation, steal your personal information, or even take remote control of your PC. Users want their PC to be safe from such attacks once and for all.

8. Portability – People are always on the move and often find themselves wanting Internet access while away from their home base: on vacation, business trips, or even while out shopping. They want to stay in touch with family and friends, look up information about where to eat and how to get there, get news and weather, or simply play games, but they cannot take a desktop computer along and even a laptop computer may be too big to bother with. Smart cell phones, on the other hand, are too tiny and hard to type on. What users want is a computer with full keyboard that is small enough to take with them so that it can always be there when they want it.

9. Battery Power – If you’re going to carry something around for convenience, you don’t want to be forced to find a power outlet in order to use it. Users want their portable PCs to be like cell phones - battery powered with a battery that lasts for many hours or even days of use between charges.

10. Weight – Tied in with the desire for portability and battery-powered operation is a requirement for light weight. Lugging around an extra pound or two quickly becomes tiresome. Users want their portable PC to be light enough that they don’t notice the burden.

Happily, these desired makeovers are now underway. A new generation of ultra-mobile PCs powered by software from Phoenix Technologies is coming to market that have all the characteristics users are asking for. Even existing desktop computers can get a makeover to provide instant-on functionality, enhanced security, and protected performance in key applications. These makeovers will turn the PC into something just lovable.

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