The semantics game is alive and well in the computer industry, with some trying to convince us that the PC is dead. On the flip side there are those, like Bill Gates, who believe that the current tablets and smart phones are PCs. Our definition of what a PC [personal computer] is or is not may differ from what others believe a PC is. In fact, definitions of exactly what a PC is even differ among dictionaries.

Over at Free Dictionary, the definition is: “a computer built around a microprocessor for use by an individual, as in an office or at home or school.” In a second definition it also states: “personal computers have their own operating systems, software, and peripherals, and can generally be linked to networks.”

Over at Wikipedia the description of a personal computer may be any computer, including a desktop, laptop, tablet, or handheld device such as smart phones, used for personal computing. This description seems to support what Mr. Gates believes is a PC.

I have always considered a PC to be a computer that uses the Windows operating system. Computers such as those from Apple or those running Linux or other operating systems are not, in my opinion, PCs. Others may have a different opinion and lump all computers, no matter what the OS, under the label “personal computers.” This, I believe, is where the definition has become vague and in which some tend to lump any device, whether a computer or not, as a PC. It seems this is what Bill Gates believes, so in his opinion tablets and smart phones are all PCs.

If ones agrees with the definition Mr. Gates provides, one could conclude that we are not in a post PC era, since tablets and smart phones are an extension of the traditional desktop PC. However, the difference between an Apple iPad or a Google Android smart phone differs so dramatically in what these devices do, it is hard not to separate these devices from the traditional PC.

What do you think a PC is?

Comments as always are welcome.