Recently, Microsoft issued a statement saying that they would continue the availability of XP Home for a class of computers they have dubbed "ULCPCs", or ultra low-cost PCs. What is great about this news is not so much that Windows XP has a new lease on life, but the official recognition of a new class of computers by Microsoft.
The presence, popularity, and recognition of ULCPCs marks the first time the PC industry has acknowledged what many people already knew: that computer technology advances have moved far beyond what most people need, and the inflation of hardware requirements for software is scarcely more than a ploy to keep computer prices high.
So now they have created a legitimate place for old hardware to reside as a class of its own. Now we can buy new computers with relatively old technology for a fraction of the cost of new computers, and what is more, they will be useful for 90% of what the top of the line computers are actually used for.
My only thought, then, is that while this can only be good for the market, I wonder what would happen if everyone "caught on" and saw the ULCPC as the only kind of computer that most people need. Has the industry unwittingly poked an unfixable hole in the illusion that computer hardware upgrades are in any sense "necessary"?
I hope so.