When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:32 AM
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Default When the PC is gone where will you go?


Microsoft has been losing on several fronts in recent years. Market share is stagnant because the PC market is saturated, stock price fell behind Google's recently, etc. Pundits continue to proclaim that a "post PC era" is right around the corner if not already upon us.

They haven't been sitting idly by of course. XBox was one diversification effort into mass market infotainment that did pretty well but profit margins are small there and it is hard to put more than one in every home. They gave up a versatile PDA & phone platform, hoping to shift to the larger Joe SixPack/Rhonda Rugrat market segment with their Phone 7 fiasco but were not as lucky. Now we have the Windows 8 effort to downplay computing as information processing, seemingly hoping to make some inroads into the consumer tablet market.

What we saw with Phone 7 was a big market thrown under the bus in pursuit of a much larger market segment. Today you can't buy a decent pocket computer/phone. Windows 8 hints at much the same thing coming for desktops and laptops, and who can say where things will be with the next version of Windows after that?


Just as the truly "smart" smartphone is gone, it looks like the actual "computing" PC may soon be a thing of the past. Before too long you may find it impossible to find anything besides sealed-box browser/media players and basic media servers at an affordable price point. I assume business will be driven further into thin client/host based computing.

This probably won't be practical for a home or small business user, and the few true PC platforms might be priced quite high much as industrial SBCs are now. And there may not even be a Windows sold for those anymore.

Purely a question of numbers as Mother Hubbards realize all they need are ARM-based browser tablets which are cheap and simple to use. After all, the general purpose PC probably always has been overkill for and a nuisance to the mean, median, and mode of users out there.


So what will you do when the general purpose computer becomes a rare and pricy lab instrument once again? I assume that some programmers will simply shift to old style centralized computing, as in Cobol days gone by.

But lots of them may be frozen out or marginalized as commodity SaaS offerings continue to replace much custom software development for business use. There are already pretty strong incentives to bend your business processes to fit a package rather than automating your existing business processes. The news is full of failed attempts to "modernize" the automated processes long-lived organizations have accumulated over 30, 40, and even in some cases 50 years.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:24 AM
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Though we love to try, human beings are notoriously bad at predicting the future.
Let's hope you fit the curve.

But seriously... I find it hard to believe that any appliance could fit the needs of the average business. They do not have the Flexibility.

Even though connectivity is prime for a business these days I do not see managers betting on cloud based apps at this time. IMHO PC's with some sort of OS will be with us for a good while yet.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:42 AM
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The need for productivity does not go away. So far tablets and (smart)phones has not been able to serve this need, and as long as they can't the is still a huge market for desktop PCs. Tablets are desperately trying to mimic something that resembles the efficiency of a laptop, and it is far far behind a standard desktop PC in terms of inefficiency and capabilities.

In short term I could imagine the tablets taking over basic tasks such as creating presentation slides, writing documents and so forth. That is, if they can get a model on the market with a proper keyboard (and possibly mouse) support.

Even if the PC market loses to tablets and smart phones, the components required to build the tablets are largely the same as the desktop PC. Therefore I don't see the price skyrocketing on standard PC components.

You paint the future very grim, but I think you are exaggerating the impact that the "consumer" products will have on the more specialized market. You have the options to go with a WP/IPhone if you want a closed ecosystem with tight control of the system and little room for specialization or alternatively an Android if you want to tinker a lot with the device and do custom modifications.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qua View Post
You paint the future very grim, but I think you are exaggerating the impact that the "consumer" products will have on the more specialized market. You have the options to go with a WP/IPhone if you want a closed ecosystem with tight control of the system and little room for specialization or alternatively an Android if you want to tinker a lot with the device and do custom modifications.
I'm not so sure.

I think "Windows Phone" is a good model here for two reasons. It replaced a relatively open platform (Windows Mobile) by a tightly closed one, and Microsoft dropped any alternative in favor of a focus on the mass consumer market.

Windows (8) on ARM looks like the beginnings of a similar threat to desktop/laptop users. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but in 3 or 4 years who knows?


As far as larger businesses go they may be happy with hosted MS Office and general business applications. Some will choose public clouds and others will run private clouds. But the desktops may well all end up as thin-client devices - basically terminals.

When the choice is between a small selection of $5000/seat PCs and a thin-client/cloud setup I doubt they'll care much about performance.

The little guy stands to lose the most though.


Once you have fewer people buying PCs even the Linux fans will be in trouble since they use the same hardware platform and a shrinking market will drive up costs for everyone.


Lets just hope this "post PC" stuff is nothing but short lived hype.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:30 PM
hDC_0When the PC is gone where will you go? hDC_0 is offline
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Default A brief post on computing in the future..

Quote:
Originally Posted by dilettante
When the PC is gone where will you go?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qua
You paint the future very grim..
I agree with Qua.
Even the darkest cyberpunk novels have some fantastic technology still waiting to see the light of day.

I can hardly wait for a wetware jack (either data or interfacing) that allows surfing the 3D metaverse
with bandwidth exceeding hundreds of petabytes/second and qubits streaming through
a quantum processor containing hundreds of cores fed via a 1024 bit optical bus connected to a 512 zettabyte memory storage array.

In the meantime I see a future where all the "devices" that constitute a PC are hidden --the old "ubiquitous computing" vision that still hasn't even been close to realized.

As you enter a "enabled" space just make a hand gesture and an interface will appear in mid-air as a kind of "holographic fog"
that is invisible to anyone but the person using the interface,
(and maybe someone standing directly in back of him/her).

The hand gesture is caught by the 5th generation descendent of the primitive Kinect/Primesense style video gesture-capturing AI.

The future is so bright you need to add polarization to the rose colored tinting of your Google Glass project eyewear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dilettante
Lets just hope this "post PC" stuff is nothing but short lived hype.
..and don't worry dilettante, if there comes a day when the last desktop PC comes off some Asian production line we'll make sure it gets earmarked just for you.

Last edited by hDC_0; 10-02-2012 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:37 PM
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I'm gesturing at your post as we speak. Doesn't seem to be responding.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:42 PM
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Default The future..just not quite now..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gruff
I'm gesturing at your post as we speak. Doesn't seem to be responding.
Maybe you've leaned too far forward into the holographic fog.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:24 PM
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I see some weird points in here, but mostly agree that for the general user, a tablet is just enough. 90% of my wife's computing is done on an iPad. I can see the future making desktops more of a niche item and thus more expensive. BUT, there's always going to be a need, unless this Surface thingamajig works as good as Microsoft says.

My whole industry (Test and Measurement) could benefit from more ubiquitous tablets, but a locked-down computing model won't work for it. SpaceX and the LHC scientists are among our customers; they don't want to fiddle with App Store approval or sandboxing. They need to talk to hardware and they need no restrictions. But they're already paying 10x per machine that you'd pay for a general-purpose PC because of that hardware, so I doubt much will change if your average Dell box shifts its price upwards.

I think it's correct to assume MS will continue to move to a more locked-down computing model, and for most consumers I think it will work. At home I don't care /how/ Quicken gets installed, I just want to pay my bills. At work, I can't see a tool like Visual Studio ever working in the sandboxed Metro, but how many developers vs. customers are there?

I'm pretty confident that no matter what, the bulk of my customers are going to be using "classic" Windows for 10 years. I expect demand for "Windows UI" to increase enough that it'll have a business case over that timespan. But beyond the next 3 years, I'm not really sure what is going to happen to computing. Tablets are growing in popularity scary fast; I saw figures today that 25% of US adults own one. Ignoring it is foolish for app developers, but for enterprise developers I think we're still a few years off. Especially if it means a platform shift to ARM. Whoever can make VB6 run on that is going to be very, very rich.

It's why I'm pushing for more interest in WPF amongst everyone. WinForms knowledge gets you next to nothing on WinRT. But it all looks similar to WPF, and even more similar to Silverlight and WP7 if you were chasing those ill-fated platforms. Today's WinForms developer is likely to be like yesterday's VB6 developer. That's not to say they'll be out of a job, but there won't be illustrious jobs left. Today's WPF developer's fate is less certain, but brighter.

On the flip side, I don't really care if I end up writing Objective-C for iOS either. I like writing UI stuff, and I don't really care which platform I do it on. I'm one of those greedy guys that does what the guy writing the paycheck says.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:41 PM
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WPF? Seriously? That's beginning to look like as quaint a forgotton technology as IE's VML.

Back when WPF was stamped "just doesn't cut it" and Microsoft went through the Longhorn Reboot (the process of moving further XAML work into the native sphere hoping to salvage something) there seems to be as strong or stronger emphasis on HTML5. While it is hard to know where they're heading, Microsoft could easily abandon XAML altogether in favor of an improved HTML rendering engine. This helps Microsoft get even more focused on a single stream of effort than they've moved to already.

This probably offers a little bit to developers using FurtureWin. There is some degree of portability afforded by extended HTML and it also makes it easier for Windows developers to reuse those skills in creating cloud clients running on different platforms. You have a set of basic skills and knowledge you can transfer to different tasks instead of another set of contrarian sideshow skills to acquire.


Will they toss XAML altogether? Well backward compatibility goes out the window in the "consumer app" ecosystem since planned obsolescence is a key goal there. I suspect Microsoft hopes to change the software market to look like the mobile device market, with renewal cycles driven endlessly via something like the "cell phone plan" model of market churn.

Want that new version of Grouchy Toads? Pony up for a new tablet that can run it, as well as repurchase compatible versions both of the other "apps" you still find useful two weeks after initial purchase.

After all, right now you could be using the same PC with a few small updates to disk and RAM that you have been using for 7 or 8 years, running the same WinXP and Office 2003 you bought back then. Can't have that going on!


So WPF is a funny thing to bet on. It might someday take off or it could already be past its peak.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:53 PM
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:15 PM
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We've been through this before in another thread.

WPF is the *only* desktop technology using XAML right now, if I use "desktop" to mean "not tablet-oriented WinRT". Here's a list of the "better" versions of it:
  • Silverlight. Dead because it was too limited compared to WPF and it turned out HTML 5 was moving too fast.
  • Windows Phone 7. Dead because it was too limited compared to WPF and it turned out having parity with tablet UI was desirable.
  • Windows UI Experience With WinRT Sharp Plus Plus Good Version. Untested offshoot of Windows Phone 7, Silverlight, WPF, and USE duct tape ON cat. XAML based on WinRT instead of the normal CLR.
  • Windows Phone 8. Supposedly the same as WUIEWWRTSPPGV. If it's anything like how WPF, Silverlight, and WP7 were the same it'll be great as long as you can speak Esperanto and don't expect "3" to be parsed to the same value on both platforms.
If you know WPF, you know all of these. If you have WPF, you can build all of their features. If it's dead then there's no hope for MS.

HTML 5 is a win because a lot of designers used to putting up with a ton of garbage live there. XAML's got a lot of the exciting opportunities for spec interpretation HTML 5 had, so now windows devs and web devs can share some misery. I can't tell you which one's going to be more significant, but I do see developers on the iOS side abandoning HTML 5 in favor of native apps. Interesting.

If tablets completely take over *and* MS abandons XAML then yes, WPF is as dead as VB6. Which is to say comic book hero "dead", forever living on and being revived in various parallel timelines. But if you're doing WPF now and the desktop completely fades, it's a small leap to WinRT. I suppose HTML 5 is a safer bet right now, I'll give you that. I can't see them abandoning XAML while they're releasing new platforms based on it every 8 months.

RE: TypeScript, I saw a few people try it out today. I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be yet another "almost something you understand' language used only by MS tools. I saw a few people on Twitter respond to it with "HAHAHA NOPE", but I await blogs where people actually highlight why they don't like it.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:47 PM
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It's true that nearly the sole survivor of attempts to XAMLize raw Win32 is Windows Ribbon Framework. Even that gets little use and seems to be nearly unknown to most developers. It was probably one of the few attempts to re-engineer and retain XAML after the reset in thinking when Longhorn dragged out forever, the rest being recycled into WinRT.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:02 PM
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Default Before the WPF flame war goes into full conflagration mode..

I'd just like to note that post#10 of this thread (with the TypeScript link),
spawned a separate thread, so it doesn't interfere with the ongoing WPF "discussion".
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:09 AM
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Actually WPF was never intended to be a topic in this thread (which is about what traditional Windows developers will do if there really is a "post PC era" rolling in upon us).

However it does have a clear connection to one possible direction: pursuing the Metro direction hoping Microsoft doesn't totally collapse in upon itself with another poor decision like Windows Phone 7. That's certainly a valid option based on anyone's crystal ball - they might see amazing strength in that market and how Phone 8 might be received is also difficult to predict.
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Old 10-04-2012, 10:18 PM
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Another option might be a move to Apple or Google products I suppose. Again, it depends on whether you are looking at enterprise desktop development, embedded/dedicated develoment, or recreational development I suppose.

There are tons of cheap Android devices out there. Of course that's a pretty fragmented landscape with older and newer devices varying wildly because of the version churn that's probably tied to the rapid increase of hardware power over the past few years. That nice looking $100 9" tablet from China might be a really creaky old knock-off of some mainstream product of 3 years ago and who knows whether a recent Android SDK supports it at all?

In the wake of the huge platform shift Phone 7 represented a few 3rd party WinMo dev tool makers shifted to making iOS and Android tools. I have no idea how viable these may be or what their realistic shelf life will be in the face of future platform churn.

Blog mini-review: Basic4Android looks interesting. The product page is at Basic4Android. The Features page promises support for Android 1.6 through 4.0 and single-dev pricing is $40/$99 - two tiers. It might serve as a learning bridge from Basic to the flavor of Java used on Android since all user-programming on these devices seems to treat Java bytecode as the closest to "bare metal" you'll ever see.

Correction:

There does appear to be a Native Development Kit (NDK) supporting "C and other languages" for Android, according to Wikipedia's Android software development article.

Last edited by dilettante; 10-04-2012 at 11:21 PM. Reason: correction
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:03 PM
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This is actually why I an hopeful of the Surface, because every Surface will come with a keyboard.I don't want a tablet, although a convertible isnt out of the question.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:29 PM
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We should know a lot more about Surface in just a few weeks. I suspect it'll be a fairly hi-spec device but with an MSRP close to $900 discounted to somewhere in the $750 range on the open market. Hard to know more and speculation seems pretty wild.

7" Android devices seem to come in 3 basic tiers of power and display/input quality: $75, $150, $300. 10" class devices about 150% of that. So I'm not sure a $750 Surface is that far off for an initial offering.

The Surface "keyboard" seems to come in two versions, both designed as screen-covers that flop out to offer a sort of keyboard inside. I'm not sure either will be as nice to type on extensively as the keyboard/dock units offered with some existing Win7-on-x86 tablets, but those devices (sans keyboard) are also heavier with lower battery life than one can expect from an ARM-based Surface tablet.


It'll be interesting to see OEM response to the Surface. It mgiht help establish a new market or they may choose to take it as a snub and shun production of their own Win8 devices, instead investing further in Android.


Since all of it appears to be mass-consumption driven it'll also be interesting to see how Joe Consumer reacts to a $750 Surface when they can buy a $300 Samsung tablet or $600 iPad that will "look the same" to most of them.

Last edited by dilettante; 10-04-2012 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:05 AM
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Yeah I kind of got bogged down.

I think it's not the end of the world as some are predicting. VB6 hasn't really died the death MS wanted it to and I doubt desktop-oriented C# and VB .NET will die quickly either. Windows Forms has already been effectively dead for years. No one's going to quit wanting CRUD and the other kinds of applications 90% of people write today. I highly doubt they're going to want to pay to retrain employees to develop in Windows UI. I highly doubt they're going to budget replacing all PCs with tablets, or even purchasing touchscreen monitors.

The consumer end is so driven by voodoo I don't know what to expect. I know on my end, I don't give a flying flip about the cheaper ARM Surface, but I'm not an average consumer. My wife uses an iPad for 90% of her computing. If it had decent mouse and keyboard support (Yes, it has bluetooth. It has no shortcuts, apps aren't designed with mouse in mind, etc.) it'd make a dang fine computer for her.

Will I ever write tablet apps? No clue. At work I do what they pay me to do. We've certainly released products on iPad. Will people install tablets in factories? I'm not sure. PCs are easy to service. Tablets not so much. There's a heck of a demand for better touchscreen products in that environment, but will anyone actually fulfill it? I don't really know.

MS is playing to win, but the real question is if it's too little, too late. If Windows 8 is unpolished, it's because they don't have 6 years to refine it before releasing it.
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:11 PM
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I think my entire issue in starting this thread is about the larger scale, larger profit consumer market driving PC-as-we've-known-it into obscurity. This won't necessarily mean you can't find one, but there may be fewer choices at higher prices.

After all a lot of consumer use of PC form-factor devices (desktops, laptops) probably came from it being the only game in town for a long time. Tablets, smaller tablettes, and touchscreen phones might provide everything they want from a digital device.

Corporate use of true smart phones and tablet computers didn't preserve that market (at any price) but then it was always a fairly small niche. Perhaps that won't be as much of an issue considering the pervasive business and student use of desktops and laptops.
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:42 AM
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Default The bigger historical context..or "trend"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dilettante
I think my entire issue in starting this thread is..
My issue is that your "concerns" about moving from desktop PC to
mobile computing devices are really a big "nothing",
(nothing you can "halt" in any real way..)

It's all a natural outcome of Moore's law.
How long as Moore's law been around?
According to the Moore's Law Wikipedia article its based on Gordon L. Moore's paper from 1965.

That's even before Alvin Toffler published Future Shock in 1970 warned of
people not being able to "handle" (adapt to?) technological change.

Going back even further..
On December 29, 1959, physicist Richard Feynman gave a lecture at an American Physical Society meeting at Caltech called:
"There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom".
According to the Wikipedia article on the subject,
Quote:
Feynman considered a number of interesting ramifications of a general ability to manipulate matter on an atomic scale.
He was particularly interested in the possibilities of denser computer circuitry..
..as such I think it lays out the physics scaling realities that lead to the development of Moore's law.


The final transition, from mainframe computers that filled all rooms,
to PCs that had a mere desktop "footprint",
to smartphone/tablets that fit in the palm of the hand --can't you see
that it was all "predicted" (in a way) decades ago?

Whatever the short term "market share" issue, don't you see that society as a whole
has moved forward to a more technologically advanced society and
there's no turning back.


Are you going to take away people's smart phones and issue them
a mechanical difference engine or abaci instead?

I doubt that Haitians would find that a more convenient way to pay for food.

I celebrate the fact that more people globally,
especially those in what used to be know as "the third world",
will finally get to participate in the "microcomputer revolution".


I know continually linking to Wikipedia articles can be tiresome but
it's not like what we're dealing with is some kind of "hidden topic',
or something that snuck up in a surprising way.

Ultimately when there are powerful societal and technological forces contributing
to "pushing" a trend you can't stop things from unfolding,
just "nudge" them a little, one way or the other.


The other (software) side of any "fewer choices" trends..
The part of the "computing devices becoming ever smaller" trend that
I don't think has gotten enough discussion is the way it has, defacto, made remote servers
an ever more powerful component of the worldwide computing ecosystem.

Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile computing devices
wouldn't be half what they are without them.

Who own/controls (or make decisions about) what's on these centralized servers?

Is it "power to the people", or will increasing "Soviet-Style Central Planners",
(which dilettante calls in this post "costly, dangerous, and despicable vermin"),
get (or re-assert from earlier times) control of things?

You can say "there are hundreds of apps for everything", but
I have a feeling that "app Darwinism" will eventually (long term) whittle things
down, leading to "fewer choices at higher prices".

Will one vender eventually "win" the mobile O/S gui war (with over an 80% market share)?
Hopefully not - because that will definitely lead to fewer choices.

A mobile O/S vendor, once it achieves a certain level of monopolization,
will, (in all likelihood), choose to move away from a freemium based model,
(unless the internet's TCP/IP underpinnings, based on net neutrality,
is adjusted to support a tiered service prioritization model).

Anyway..that's probably a topic for another TD thread, so..

Last edited by hDC_0; 10-06-2012 at 02:10 AM.
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Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Web Site Using C# & VB, 3rd Edition - Free 219 Page Preview!
This comprehensive step-by-step guide will help get your database-driven ASP.NET web site up and running in no time..
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When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go? When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
 
When the PC is gone where will you go?
When the PC is gone where will you go?
 
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