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if year > 2013 then PC != Personal Computer

Personal Cloud will be your digital hub instead

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The abbreviation 'PC' will soon no longer stand for 'Personal Computer', but 'Personal Cloud'. Come 2014, the latter will be where consumers keep their digital content, not the former.

So says Gartner, a market watcher, reckons what you might call 'PC 2.0' will be ushered in by legions to tech-savvy punters already used to operating online through social network tech and who will soon expect to access their content as easily and as quickly on the move as they do at home.

"No one device will be the primary hub," said Gartner research VP, Steve Kleynhans. "The personal cloud will take on that role."

Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, he added. Content won't be explicitly associated with a given device, but accessed by all, mediated by apps tuned to each gadget's capabilities.

Cloud storage is the mechanism that will make all this possible, as will virtualisation - the ability to run complex operating systems and applications on a net-connected server, with the user interface handled by the mobile gadget, be it smartphone, tablet or skinny compact laptop.

Case in point: look what OnLive is doing, not only with games but also Windows and Microsoft Office. It uses virtualisation to make console games and productivity software on platforms not natively capable of running the code.

True, OnLive may fall foul of Microsoft's licensing terms, but it seems more likely that that two will come to an arrangement that allows OnLive to continue.

But whatever happens to OnLive, the notion that you can access complex apps on a pared-back device - the old 'thin client computing' concept that was pitched at big business in the 1990s - is gaining a foothold among consumer applications, Gartner reckons.

"Many call this era the post-PC era, but it isn't really about being 'after' the PC, but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives," said Kleynhans. ®

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