Early in my career, a couple of decades back, I was commissioned to write a report on the rise of client/server computing. In doing background research, I came across endless articles and reports on the fast decline of mainframe systems. Enterprise workloads, everyone said, would soon be assumed by distributed arrays of PC servers, which were far more costly and economical. I tried to take a more balanced approach in my own report, but given the talk of the time, no one would have dared to predict that mainframes would be churning out the world's workloads in 2013, and that more people would be using mainframes (over the web) than ever before.

No one is predicting the demise of the mainframe anymore, except for the occasional uninformed article that expresses surprise that the “dinosaurs” are still being used for this or that. So, predictions of the imminent decline of the PC should also be taken with a grain of salt at this time. First, the PC form factor—a workstation setup with a sizable screen and keyboard—is needed for most types of heads-down work. Tablets now duplicate that, with keyboards and all, but that raises the question of whether they actually are, simply, still PCs with detachable touchscreens. And what about the PCs equipped with touchscreens?

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