We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

2012: the year Microsoft ran out of ideas

...Google bought users, and 4G arrived

2012 was the year in which Microsoft finally ran out ideas, Google resorted to paying for tablet customers, and wireless speeds increased.

A new year lies ahead for PCs. And computing gadgets. If it's even half as eventful as 2012, we've got quite a year ahead.

For PC Advisor – a magazine that can trace its history through the rise of Microsoft's innovation-crippling monopoly on personal computing – the most important event should have been a whole new Windows. Except it wasn't.

It wasn't a whole new version. Although Windows 8 was rather important, revealing to even Windows' Stockholm Syndromed users that Microsoft has truly run dry of ideas in the face of smarter, reliable, user-focused products and services.

Windows 8 was the Frankenstein quick-fix, Windows Phone 7 sellotaped on to Windows 7, an attempt to underpin the company's declining relevance with a one-operating-system-to-unite-them-all approach.

Microsoft would have been better off consigning the lingering odour of Windows to the Recycle Bin, and launching a new mobile OS with a fresh image, as it did with Xbox – a new platform that many forget was even spawned by the suits of Redmond. Kids would've loved the Xphone; but Windows Phone 8? Doomed the day it was christened. (SEE: What's the point of Windows Phone 8?)

Let's not dwell on Microsoft's first attempt at making PC hardware. The Surface tablet PC has Zune, PlaysForSure and Kin written all over it.

Google and tablets in 2012

Instead, let's recall the lighter moments of 2012, such as Google paying for a seat at the tablet table by subsidising the production of an Asus 7in tablet. The Nexus 7 introduced tablets to people who weren't sure if they needed one and helped Google increase mindshare - even if it boosted product portfolio by only around one million people a month since it launched last July.

Apple returned volley with a 7in iPad mini that sells for a realistic price. This contrasts with Google Nexus/Amazon Kindle Fire HD/Barnes & Noble Nook HD - tablets which seduce buyers with affordable but string-laden devices that restore profit the more people use them.

For an encore, Google put its name to Samsung's Nexus 10 tablet, another attempt to loosen the public's fixation on iPad and divert revenue toward Mountain View.

2013: faster wireless

2013 will finally see faster wireless become a reality, as we move from 3G mobile broadband and 11n Wi-Fi, to 4G cellular and 11ac. Read about the potential of next-gen Wi-Fi in our router reviews. Neither are revolutions in performance terms, roughly doubling speeds that have remained largely static for half a decade.

There will be another incremental nudge in processing speed, as Intel polishes the venerable x86 again. But the springtime rollout of Haswell microarchitecture chips is really about reducing power consumption – essential now the chip giant is being sidelined by efficient ARM chips that are taking over all aspects of modern computing.

By the time the British chip boffins sign off 64-bit chips, probably 2014, laptops and any remaining desktop PCs will as likely be running ARM as they will be Intel chips. In this future, PCs as we know them will all be simply computing gadgets.

IDG UK Sites

OnePlus Two release date rumours: Something's happening on 22 July

IDG UK Sites

13in MacBook Air review, Apple's MacBook Air 2014 reviewed

IDG UK Sites

5 reasons to buy an electric car and 5 reasons not to

IDG UK Sites

Just graduated? Learn all you need to know to kickstart your career in our Creative Graduate Guide