Post-____________

When I wrote a few weeks ago about my problems with the internet providors of the day, Virgin Media and BT, and their utterly ridiculously stringent troubleshooting methods, I noted that we live in a world that is "post-PC", or one where the PC is no longer the main device of a household. Just like in the 1980s when it was said everyone would have their own personal computer and people laughed at it's impossibility, people would have laughed in the early 2000s if you'd said that people would be dismissing their PCs for smaller devices. It seemed like that the PC's strangehold of the house was tight and set in stone.

Now the PC is dying, and so are laptops, replaced by phones and tablets that are beyond capable. Computer manufacturers are realising that, software makers are realising that, and the OS developers also have realised that.

In some places though, new technology is making a mistake. With the recent announcement of the Xbox 360's replacement, the Xbox One, I was interested to know where they would take the system and how they would expand on the already impressive workings of the Xbox as it stands. Turns out, not very far - better graphics are great for those who play games (not me anymore) and the TV features are neat (if you live in the US or Canada), but apart from that it was pretty lacklustre. I, of course, wasn't the target audience - that is the teenage Call of Duty players and sports fans that live for the next yearly release, but it did strike me in one place as very worrying.

What worried me the most (after the DRM on games and the Kinect) was the recently confirmed requirement to daily call Microsoft. According to Microsoft, the Xbox One will have to call every 24 hours, via the internet, to confirm licenses to let keep playing the games you've already bought. This has been done in the past (but with dreadful consequences, just ask anyone who played Diablo III or the recent Sim City) but not on a console wide basis. And it's going to lose Microsoft at least two sales I know of, two people who would have bought the console at some point for FIFA and such.

The reason is that these friends do not live in a post-PC world, one where they have no PC. No, they live in a post internet world. They have no fixed internet connection, instead using the data on their phone to access the internet. Instead of the speeds I get on my Wifi, they use their 3G on their Android and iOS phones. And why would they buy more internet? They don't download music, they don't stream movies, they don't do all the things I do daily. But they do play their Xbox.

Obviously they don't have Xbox Live, but then again once I get rid of Netflix again, why do I have Xbox Live? Access to... what? Games? No. Films? Maybe, but there are other sources of those. The Xbox, to me, is used as my default media centre because I already had one, and there would be no way I'd buy one for that use only - I'd get a Boxee Box or an Apple TV for that. Or even just a new Smart TV.

The idea of calling home is a fair one if you assume everyone has internet and you don't care that it's a dreadful consumer experience, but not everyone does. Or, at least, not everyone has Wifi at the speeds they think. And just like people who have mobile phone numbers stopped buying landlines (or only buying them to get internet), once people's phones graduate to 4G speeds (which can be faster than my Wifi connection) they will stop buying separate internet connections. Once data limits are removed (remember when the only time you could use unlimited internet time was between 6pm and 8pm on a weekday?) that will be the future. Devices will be built-onto 4G networks and you won't need an internet connection.

And then what happens to your Xbox One and it's multiple games? What happens when, like my Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Nintendo DS and Wii, they are superceded by the next Xbox? Will they keep the servers on? That is a very different, but equally worrying, problem.

Microsoft have killed it with a good looking, smart, powerful and capable machine, but are destroying their chances at success because of the design decisions they are making.

How did we get here? Who knows. But I will be over there playing my Mega Drive.