This year at CES, Acer is introducing two new desktops – yes, you read that correctly, desktops – running the wildly successful variant of Linux known as Android. They're cleverly positioning these exactly as I've been predicting for a long time: as monitors. They're monitors with video inputs that the luddites can connect to a computer running Windows 8, complete with touchscreen input. But they also have a full Android stack available, which will operate independently with no external computer attached.
Why is this relevant?
At the current price point set by Acer, it isn't. However, we should hope to expect that this will become the norm for all new monitors, just like televisions now include “Smart TV” features. Mass production of SoC (system on a chip) components will make it a no-brainer for even cheap monitors.
Now imagine your typical Windows luddite, trying to get something done on their old-fashioned desktop computer, when Windows does what it always does: it fails. If our luddite has technical knowledge, he may be faced with setting aside his work or research or whatever, and spending the next couple of hours repairing or reinstalling Windows. If our luddite is a nontechnical consumer, he will have to stop and wait for someone to come and help – or, possibly, spending money at the local computer shop having Windows fixed again.
But wait! Our luddite suddenly remembers that there is another computer built into the monitor. He unplugs the mini-tower and boots into Android. He's back on the Internet and he has a working computer again. The day is saved! After a few days, he begins to realize that he doesn't need the Windows hassle, and stuffs the mini-tower up into the attic, never to be seen again. Our newly minted non-luddite is now a happy Linux desktop user. He doesn't ever have to worry about viruses, spyware, lost data, or being regularly gouged for money by Microsoft.
This, my friends, is the Network Computing vision of the mid 1990's. Thanks to mobile data, ubiquitous Internet connectivity, and excellent Linux client operating systems like Android, it is rapidly becoming a reality. Windows has no place in the post-PC era, and Android desktops are accelerating the pace of adoption.