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7 PC Usage Patterns that will Change in 2011

How will we start using tech differently in 2011? Here are seven changes in the way PCs will be used in the coming 12 months.

1. DVD and CD drives will go the way of the Do Do bird – and the floppy drive – as the iTun-if-ication of the world continues. What is the "iTun-if-ication?" It's the move toward simple downloads of content and software rather than buying media offline and slipping it into an optical drive. DVDs and CDs are becoming a hassle in a world that is demanding hassle-free computing.

2. Tethering Internet connections via wireless devices – like the Palm Pre Pixie or iPhone 4.0 or Samsung Galaxy devices – will be the undoing of those kludgy, annoying and expensive (but often necessary) on-the-fly, daily T-Mobile, hotel or conference center accounts. In 2010, Verizon began offering $80-per-month, all-you-can-eat tethering deals on Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pre Pixie devices, and the iPhone will allow for WiFi tethering at much less than that via AT&T. This, in addition to mobile WiFi hubs, like the MyFi, mean that always-available 3G will be the answer to a new majority of those needing remote access.

3. Video will begin to match or supplant voice and text as a preferred method of instant communications. That's because of advances in client-based video conferencing by vendors including Skype, Logitech and, yes, Apple with its Facetime software for both its iOS and Mac OS X operating systems.

4. Anything less than all-day battery life for notebooks just won't fly.

5. The world will just stop using crashy, unstable software even if it has become a de-facto standard for many web sites. (Cough cough Shockwave cough cough.) Developers will either find a way to stabilize it, and work with all manner of device drivers, or it's over.

6. Online, client-based storage services like Microsoft's Sky Drive, Apple's iDisk, Box.net and Dropbox, will become default drives for basic file storage – if they can perform as quickly and reliably as HDD and SDD drives.

7. Pre-loaded PC bloatware will finally become the dealbreaker that it should have been for everyone all along.

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