Will your future work machine be a tablet?

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Both Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) held calls on their last quarters' earnings this week, and various reports are filtering in with interesting nuggets of analysis and facts.

For one, though the launch of Windows 8 did indeed generate an increase in sales, the 24 percent increase that it clocked starkly contrasts the much larger increases seen with the launch of Windows 7 (76 percent) or even the much-derided Windows Vista (65 percent) operating systems.

On its part, Apple reported a substantial dip of 22 percent in the sales of Mac in the last quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous year. Apple CEO Tim Cook blamed it on the cannibalization by its iPad tablets, as well as the company's inability to meet demands for its new iMac computers.

Of course, other factors are likely to be at play too, such as the introduction of Ultrabook PC laptops championed by Intel--which may have hurt the sales of the popular MacBook Air. We will never know for sure though, since Apple broke with convention this time by lumping desktop and laptop sales into the same "Mac" category.  

In my personal opinion, the dip in numbers of computers sold underscores a trend of consumers moving away from standard desktops and laptops. While the late Steve Jobs talked famously of a "post-PC" world, what appears to be happening is a trend of users--including office workers--preferring tablets or smartphones over clunky "traditional" laptop and desktop systems.

Indeed, Microsoft appears to be banking heavily on tablets with the creation of the ARM-based Windows RT platform and the made-by-Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. Though consumer confusion prevented the success of Windows RT devices, the imminent Feb. 9 launch of the Surface Pro will offer a much clearer glimpse of the future of tablet devices as bona fide work machines.

What do you think? Will our future work machine be a powerful tablet that docks to an external keyboard and a high-definition display at our work desk?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. As usual, feel free to send me an email, a tweet, or leave a note in the comments section below. - Paul Mah  (Twitter @paulmah)

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