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Meet the Very Personal Computer : How ARM Is Reinventing The PC

The next cycle of the computing industry looks to be creaking into life as the 20-year old partnership between Windows and Intel starts to show cracks, single-handedly caused by UK-based ARM.

We are now moving from the era of personal computer to that of "very personal computing", epitomised by the launch of the Motorola Atrix 4G and accompanying accessories like the multimedia docking station and the laptop docking station.

With the Atrix 4G we have the first smartphone that may actually replace a personal computer altogether; you still need to physically connect the phone with the docking stations in order to get things running but one can envision that in a near future, everything will be done seamlessly thanks to more user friendly wireless technologies.

Ultimately, one smartphone per person may be all that you need in the office and at home, and this smartphone will be powered by an ARM-based system on chip. This paradigm shift is already happening and is only set to accelerate as Microsoft threw its weight behind the architecture by announcing that the full fat version of Windows 8 will be available on ARM.

Unlike Intel, ARM is all about sharing. This means that an ARM powered ecosystem is much more sustainable and resilient, and has a myriad of partners - including the OS makers - sharing the bulk of the profits.

While Android is currently the front runner when it comes to operating systems, expect iOS, Palm OS, Meego, Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 and others to help maintain healthy competition and keep Google on its toes.

The transition to VPC will affect Intel more than it is affecting Microsoft, not least because Intel is a hardware company that has had much difficulty moving from its core (processors), while Microsoft has started to spread the risks around - albeit with varying results (Xbox, Zune, Live).

We're at the dawn of a new era where the Wintel "dinosaurs" will make way for the more agile and polyvalent ARM-based "mammals". The PC is not extinct, it has just started to morph into something else.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.