Desktop versus Tablet versus Frames ….. or is it a blend?

There was a lot of interests sparked late last week on a Forrester report relating to the future of end user computing. In a blog post relating to the research the author, Frank Gillett, tells CIOs that the future of end user computing being dominated by tablets:

…tablets are very good for information consumption, an activity that many of us do a lot of. Content creation apps are appearing on tablets. They’ll get a lot better as developers get used to building for touch-first interfaces, taking advantage of voice input, and adding motion gestures.

They’re even better for sharing and working in groups. There’s no barrier of a vertical screen, no distracting keyboard clatter, and it just feels natural to pass over a tablet, like a piece of paper, compared to spinning around a laptop.

All these reasons add up to our prediction that tablets will become the preferred, primary device for millions of people around the world, which is in the just-published report “Tablets Will Rule The Future Personal Computing Landscape.” Note that there will still be lots of personal computers sold and in use — in fact our casual estimate is that there will be 2 billion PCs in use by 2016, despite growing tablet sales. That’s because tablets only partially cannibalize PCs. Eventually tablets will slow laptop sales but increase sales of desktop PCs. That’s because many people, especially information workers, will still need conventional PCs for any intensely creative work at a desk that requires a large display or significant processing power.

Frank also mentions in his report the concept of a new form factor for personal computing called a Frame.  This was picked up in a little more detail by Matt Hamblen in this post on ComputerWorld:

Gillett also wrote a 17-page report with other Forrester analysts for clients that described ways tablets and smartphones will fit into a new form of PC. Called “frames,” these new PCs will essentially be displays that have sensors, processing power and wireless docking to work with handheld devices of all types.

Frames will be stationed in meeting rooms, coffee shops and more, Forrester said. Tablets used with frames will substitute for laptops in significant volume, the report said.

I have to say the idea of frames resonates well with my, and many other knowledge worker use cases.  I’m more questioning of the Frame use case when we consider task based workers and I have a concern that those work styles are increasingly forgotten, yet they will always be a significant portion, albeit a minority of the future of our workplace.  In terms of the way we think about desktop at CSC our strategy for delivering efficiently to mixed work styles within the enterprise remains sound, some of the end points and infrastructure may change with time but our conceptual architectures remain valid.  That’s a relief!  That last comment was a little flippant as we have to be preparing now for significant changes in the way workers interact with technology especially as it relates to applications and data.  The challenge of managing information in the cloud and the blend of information in enterprise and personal cloud services will be an increasing focus for CIOs.

Disclosure: Stu Downes is employed by CSC and is the global portfolio executive for desktop services but the views in this article don’t necessarily reflect those of CSC.


  1. I like the idea of “frames” too, I’m guessing many folks have been thinking along that line for while, but not had common category to describe those concepts, perhaps “frames” will stick. 

    Good to see you back blogging.


    1. We have started to see it in reality, the first real device of this nature was the Motorola Atrix and we are now starting to see more tablets which will drive larger displays and have an interface with screens, keyboards and mouse.  The concept of Frames will need industry standards so that you know when you turn up at the library, school, hotel or tourist information centre that the device you have will be compatible with the frame you want to use.


      1. Indeed I was impressed at Atrix as it managed the best delivered package of the concept to date?  Agree on the need for the standards.


    1. Firstly apologies for the really slow response. The report is a Forrester report:

      Tablets Will Rule The Future Personal Computing Landscape – A BT Futures Report

      We’ll Use Tablets As The Conductor For PCs, Devices, And Personal Cloud Services At Work And At Home
      by Frank E. Gillett


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