SAN FRANCISCO (06/23/2000) - These are revolutionary times in the computer business. It's not just that a federal judge wants to break up mighty Microsoft Corp. The very concept of a PC is changing radically.
At the high end, affordable desktop boxes have cracked the 1-GHz barrier in processor speed. At the low end, the slowest machine on our Top 10 Budget PCs list still purrs along at a respectable 500 MHz--and costs just $829. Sleek new "legacy-free" PCs, like Compaq Computer Corp.'s IPaq and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s E-Vectra, drop some of the cumbersome hardware and ports of older PCs. And minimalist "Internet appliances" focus solely on Web browsing and e-mail.
Speaking of the Web, look at how it has transformed office and daily life.
Businesspeople use the Web for everything from communicating to scouting prospects to researching purchases (at www.pcworld.com, among other places).
And many of us take the Net home, using it to stay in touch when we're out of the office.
Beyond that are a range of near-PCs--like the ubiquitous palmtops, personal communicators, and two-way digital pagers. With the arrival of Web-ready phones this year, a growing number of us are connecting wirelessly to offices and the Web, bypassing PCs altogether.
No wonder some pundits have declared the traditional PC dead--or at least circling the drain.
All of which raises the question for PC World--and its readers--of what the magazine ought to cover these days. We don't face this question alone, of course. Already two publications that focused mainly on PCs have fled to trendier pastures. PC Computing recently renamed itself Smart Business, and PC Week became eWeek. So what's next for PC World--eWorld?
Should Pc World Become E-World?
We don't think so, and here's why. All the evidence suggests that PC World continues to fulfill its historic mission: helping you plan for, buy, integrate, and use the technology that enables companies and individuals to boost productivity. During the past five years, under the able direction of Phil Lemmons and Cathy Baskin, PC World earned 57 awards for editorial excellence from its business, technology, and general press peers. More important, audience research and anecdotal comments from readers suggest the magazine is still reaching smart, knowledgeable, influential readers--and more of them than ever.
This month I have the honor of joining PC World's 85 outstanding editors, writers, and engineers, so it's a good time to share with you some of the magazine's plans.
To begin with, PC World won't abandon the coverage you've come to expect. For evidence, read the latest installment of our PC repair investigation; several big national chains did poorly in our undercover test of computer repair shops.
We will continue to cover basic hardware and software; see this month's features on color flatbed scanners and low-cost image-editing software. And next month's PC upgrade special promises to be the best ever.
At the same time, the magazine will undergo evolutionary--not revolutionary--changes. It will pay more attention to the business uses of technology, since roughly three out of four subscribers are managers. And it will continue the recent trend of covering a slightly wider range of equipment and services. Our readers are using more technology these days--things like the aforementioned palmtops, wireless devices, high-speed access, and home networks--and we aim to go there with you.
That's what we believe you would like to see from PC World. If you have comments or ideas that you would like the magazine to consider, please write to me personally by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to PC World at 501 Second Street, San Francisco, California 94107.
"The PC is dead," some pundits say. We don't agree. Here's why, and here's how PC World plans to respond.
Coming Up In September
Ultimate Upgrades: Turn that garden-variety PC into a digital darkroom, screaming game machine, or multimedia studio.
Search Party: Looking for links in all the wrong places? We show you which search engines are likely to find what you're after.
Locked Out of the Web: People with disabilities have very limited Web access.
We look at what works and suggest future directions.
Notebooks for Travelers: Tired of massaging that dent in your shoulder? Check out our review of tiny but talented laptops.
I Hear You Hacking, but You Can't Come In: Foil break-ins, hobble Trojan horses, and repel hack attacks with security software.
Kevin McKean is editorial director of PC World.