IT market
Do-it-all PCs juggle work with worms


The PC is ITs jack of all trades but master of none, and this is why its days are numbered in most offices, argues Guy Kewney,

IT market

Its all too much. Doing everything, I mean, is too much. And thats exactly what we ask a general-purpose computer to do: everything.

In the early days of the PC, it didnt matter. A computer could not do very much, anyway, and there wasnt much to interfere with it. But today, when I talk to ordinary PC users, what I hear is utter frustration, because their computers are doing everything.

And they want them to stop it. They have machines which switch from dialling Pipex to dialling a phone number in Peru. The machines run spyware that ?phones home? a dozen times an hour. They pick up worms and viruses and then they fake emails.

Frankly, Im tired of hearing that this is all the fault of Microsoft. I dont think so. Yes, it is probably true that the Windows computer should be more secure than it is. Maybe its true that something based on ?proper security? would be less vulnerable to viruses and malware, but I think its also true that computers are designed to do everything.

All you have to do is fool the owner into running something. The future of personal data isnt the general-purpose computer. Eventually most computers for work purposes will run only what managers specifically allow them to, because this is the only safe way to prevent users from loading and running programs. But the whole point of a general-purpose computer is to load and run programs.

What the typical user will want is something to browse the internet, search, find and print. Thats an information appliance.Or a device to route calls. Thats an internet phone, with text messaging. Anything more is too much.