Net speed is now the key

It seems like last week that the computer powers that be were declaring the end of the PC. The network computer was deemed to be the new king, crowned by luminaries like Oracle’s Larry Ellis. But as we all know, things change, and they change especially fast in the computer world.

The network computer offered some big advantages, among them eliminating the need to purchase complete versions of software and back up your own data. We would all simply work on-line, all the time, renting software as we needed it. A hard drive would be a thing of the past, as our simple (and cheap) network box used software pulled down from the Net.

The trouble is, few people bought the idea, or the network computer, even it if was cheaper than a PC. Plunging prices for PCs were the first blow against the network computer, and today it is generally acknowledged that most people want the best of both worlds: a fully functional PC they control completely and a fast connection to the vast resources of the Internet.

The industry has responded, and the performance of a PC is now defined more by how fast it can process information from the Net. In other words, modem speed is now a lot more importa than how fast a computer can run a spreadsheet.

Computer manufacturers like Dell and Compaq are unveiling cheap PCs that do all this and more, and have swiped the network PC concept from its originators. Apple’s new iMac (the “i” stands for Internet) is another example of a fully functional PC that provides fast and easy Net access.

So long live the network computer. We all can get its best features and still maintain our own data and software, a development which benefits most everyone.