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PCWorld Magazine Is No More 164

Posted by timothy
from the long-rather-for-the-old-and-big-computer-shopper dept.
harrymcc writes "After slightly more than 30 years, PCWorld — one of the most successful computer magazines of all time — is discontinuing print publication. It was the last general-interest magazine for PC users, so it really is the end of an era. Over at TIME, I paused to reflect upon the end of the once-booming category, in part as a former editor at PCWorld, but mostly as a guy who really, really loved to read computer magazines."
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PCWorld Magazine Is No More

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:42PM (#44253623)

    Good riddance to it I say!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, even if it wasn't full of ads, printing a paper magazine to discuss multimedia machines that could better display the content is insane.

      Paper computer magazines haven't made any sense for quite a while now.

      • Agreed, even if it wasn't full of ads, printing a paper magazine to discuss multimedia machines that could better display the content is insane.

        Paper computer magazines haven't made any sense for quite a while now.

        Well, when Linux Journal went paperless, I dropped my subscription. I own an eReader and there's a lot of stuff I'd rather read that way, but technical magazines are an exception.

        PCWeek's website has always been pretty useless to me, however. I haven't actually laid hands on the print edition for a long while, but it used to be a lot better compared to its online edition.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:10PM (#44253971)

      Good riddance to it I say!

      Ah, but in the early days, the ads were the best part. I rarely even bothered to read the articles. When each issue arrived, I would open it up to the cheap yellow "tombstone" ads near the back. You could run an ad there for $100/month. There was always some fascinating new gizmo that some guy was making in his garage and advertising there. After a month or two, most of the products disappeared, but some of them grew into successful startups. Reading those ads was like watching the history of technology unfold.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:35PM (#44254793)

        Completely agree - I fondly remember picking up Computer Shopper to see what the best deals were for buying cheap memory, hard drives, etc. Zines like Byte and PCWorld were ok for general purpose reading, but Dr Dobbs was one of my favs for programming. Along with 2600 and Phrack for stuff on the fringes.

        Thanks for the memories - I hate to say it, but today's tech is nowhere as exciting as those wild-west days were. I feel privileged to have been part of that.

        Now get off my lawn!

        • Yup, I would read PC Magazine for the reviews of software/hardware I was considering buying, although often I wouldn't purchase the Editor's Choice for one reason or another. Computer Shopper is where I would actually look to buy it. Dr. Dobbs I read for the technical articles, and kept forever because I would often want to use some algorithm I had read a year or two prior (or more).

          All that stuff I use the web for today, and of the bunch, I miss Dr. Dobbs the most, but I find most of what I'm looking for

        • Anyone for Compute! 8 bits should be enough for everyone.

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      I havent had a sub in many many years but as a kid in the early 90s PCmag was just plain awesome, It really helped me learn in my early years (6-12)
    • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:35PM (#44254243)

      I loved it for the game demo cds that came with it.

    • They died off because all the kind of user who would have read that mag is the kind of user who would replace a PC with a locked-down toy tablet.

      • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:25PM (#44254709)
        Or they could be browsing the internet on a PC. They could even buy a cheap tablet with wifi access to carry into their bathroom so they could read from more useful resources than an ad-filled magazine even while they relieve themselves. The reason that PC magazines died off is because they are an absolutely outdated medium, not because the people who would read them are now hipsters.
        • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @04:33PM (#44255413) Homepage Journal

          around here it was just not being outdated that killed them. some local magazines were first to go online and being up to date. like this one magazine I used to subscribe to.

          what killed them(for me and majority of subscribers) was that when computers went really mainstream in late '90s they went totally mainstream with their articles - this ended up in them having just shit for content. all they have now are some fluff reviews, nothing about how to do cool stuff and full page images. the same magazine that had 10 years earlier articles about c64 coding, assembly, basic, interfacing hw to computers, really soulful honest game reviews, detoriated to a magazine that had yearly printer reviews, yearly monitor reviews - and the text for those pieces could have been the same from year to year. somewhere along the line they even dipped the bottom of the barrel and started doing "full" game reviews based on fucking screenshots, in order to "compete" while in reality I or other readers wouldn't have cared shit if the games they reviewed were 6 months or even a year old as long as they reviewed them properly. they should have kept writing for the computer hobbyists, since the computer non-hobbyists aren't going to read their fucking magazine - offline OR online. the fuckers even changed the paper to some glossy variant that doesn't flame up easily so couldn't even light up the stove for the sauna with it if the issue was just bullshit...

          but non-hobbyists so called casual computer users are a bigger market so they tried to steer the magazine toward them... failing miserably along the way. and now that same fucking magazine wants me to pay 1 euro - I'm not kidding - for reading a single article online. FUCK EM.

          I mean, that magazine had the guts to do a game review this short back in the day: "shi**y clone of commando". on print - and apparently that was enough to say about the game and I believed the review, it seemed honest. now later they didn't dare to criticize any game that harshly, everything is at least "ok" and they spend paragraphs justifying how someone casual might like the game or just outright praising the game without seeing it play nor playing it.

    • Preach Mrs AC, boy was that the damned truth! My ex gave me a subscription to the thing a few years back and the first thing I had to do when an issue came in was open it over a trash bin to catch all the damned inserts that would fall out, and it seemed like every article was spread halfway across the mag because what would take 2 paragraphs on a webpage would take 4 pages thanks to all the ads they had jammed into each and every page!

      Needless to say when that year was up no matter how many emails they sent begging for me to renew I didn't, at least on the Web I can control the ads and refuse to go to pages where they take 2 paragraphs and spread it out to 4 pages, with PCW they just crammed the living hell out of the thing. I bet if one were to take one of their last issues, cut out all the ads and just print the actual stories? damned thing probably wouldn't be 14 pages long, the rest was just crap.

      • by RenderSeven (938535) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:54PM (#44255027)
        Gotta love that new magazine trend: "continued on page 82" and there aren't any page numbers. Whoever came up with that is an Evil Genius.
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Dude that is the second reason (the first being all the damned ads and inserts) that got my goat and why I refused to renew it or Wired, I'd be reading an article that should have been two pages max and not only would they spread it among 4 or 5 pages but those pages would be all over the mag and not a damned page # in fricking sight!

          Frankly the whole thing reminds of Windows 8 and the "death of the PC" in that its NOT the medium, be it the mag or the PC, its the assholes at the top that think they can sh

        • by Nimey (114278)

          New? New? Mags have been doing that since at least the late '80s and probably before that.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)
            Not like what he is talking about friend. if your local library has back issues look at something like Wired from the early 90s and then look at it now. Back in the day they would have small page numbers or move them from the bottom to a corner or some such, but with mags today i can pick up a mag and go a good 30+ pages before I EVER see a single page number and when you have articles that start on 20, have another page on 84, to finally end up with the conclusion around 137? Not having page numbers gets o
            • by Nimey (114278)

              Yep, just like he's talking about, just not with the old computer mags. I saw that a lot when I did some project in fifth grade (1989-1990) that involved cutting pictures out of old magazines my teacher had saved. Can't remember which, but probably women's magazines of some type.

  • No worries (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:42PM (#44253633) Homepage Journal

    PCWorld can just rename itself MobileWorld or CloudWorld or SocialWorld and it will be thriving again!

  • Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:45PM (#44253663)
    You can only ramble on about going paperless in print articles for so long before you start to look a little silly.
  • by geminidomino (614729) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:49PM (#44253709) Journal

    For at least 15 of those 30 years, it read more like Computer Shopper, anyway. I mourned it a long time ago.

    • by NormHome (99305) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:01PM (#44253865)

      For sure, but what did it for me was their reviews and how good competitive products never made it in to the group being reviewed and things that were highly rated took a beating on end user reviews.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:35PM (#44254251)

        For sure, but what did it for me was their reviews and how good competitive products never made it in to the group being reviewed and things that were highly rated took a beating on end user reviews.

        To be included in the comparison, and even to get high ratings, you had to buy ads in the magazine. I worked for a company that ran ads in PCWorld in the 1980s and 1990s. The ad salespeople would come right out and say that if you increased your ad budget, they would make sure you were "taken care of" in the reviews. So we increased our ad spending. We were more interested in being rich than ethical.

        • by PRMan (959735) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:22PM (#44254679)
          I remember in the early days when they weren't "bought" like PCMag. But eventually they succumbed. I distinctly recall the day when the worst version of Norton in history won when it slowed your PC down by half the moment you installed it. It was accompanied by Norton ads all over the magazine (back cover, centerfold, inside front cover). I knew then that it was bought for sure.
    • by operagost (62405)
      Computer Shopper hasn't read like Computer Shopper for some time. That thing used to be as wide as a tabloid and thick as a phone book. E-commerce ended its one-stop shopping mission.
    • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @04:06PM (#44255159)

      I loved computer shopper. Not the souless glossy pamphlet that it became. The real computer shopper was 300+ pages of nothing but ads all printed on cheap pulp paper, heavy enough to make phone books jealous and mailmen cry.

      It was a cheap source of paper and weight when in need, like when you are sitting on the toilet and notice your short of a vital component. Got a computer shopper, your covered. Need something to hold your ass down when a hurricane winds a blowing, your covered. Got a body to sink and got no cement, your covered.

      Damn I miss that book, but I'm sure glad my ex wife missed when she threw one at me.

  • Not to be confused with Personal Computer World, or PCW. The earliest and best UK computer magazine, that already died in 2009.

    • by turgid (580780) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:15PM (#44254041) Journal

      I ended my subscription to that back in the 90s when they chose to ignore anything non-Windows.

      It used to have great reviews as well as technical articles and many pages of program listings in a wide variety of languages for many different platforms. There were tutorials on things like the maths behind 3D graphics and fractals, CPU architectures (there was once a superb one on the Motorola 68000 family), ARM assembly language (when the Archimedes was kicking the PeeCee's butt), you name it.

      Then it turned into a Windows PeeCee shopping magazine with how-to-change-your-Windows-background-picture articles...

      • You forget MacByter, sadly missed.

      • Ain't that the truth. The glory days were certainly the early 80s, when all varied home computers were being released. I treasured the copies with the first reviews of the ZX80, ZX81 and the BBC Micro and so on. Very sad when I had to part with them.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)
          Yeah, I was going to comment on Personal Computer World too, if only to contrast how that has *already* been dead for four years- so its US near-namesake has actually done quite well. Perhaps the economies of scale in the larger market made keeping its head above water possible. Then again, other UK magazines are still going, so perhaps it was specific issues with its position in the market that led to the former's downfall. PC Advisor (which is effectively the UK edition of PC World, renamed to avoid confu
          • I suspect as their circulation was shrinking, the power of the advertisers became stronger, and it may even have been that the front page was paid for by the featured beige box manufacturer.

            It is such as shame, as back in it's glory days, every front cover was a work of art, either illustrated, or artful photography.

  • Good riddance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:52PM (#44253751)

    Over the last 30 years, its editors got in bed with whatever comapny was big at the time and therefore apid the most for ad space (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, etc.)

    So much for unbiased journalism. PC World, aong with PC Mag, epitomized an era where ad dollars literally bought favorable reviews.

    What EA, Ubi, Activision and others did to printed gaming mags was peanuts in comparison.

  • by jasnw (1913892) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:55PM (#44253801)
    This really BYTEs.
  • B'bye (Score:5, Funny)

    by ubergeek65536 (862868) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:58PM (#44253831)

    I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. It was like reading a car magazine that explains that cars have four tires in every article.

  • Upgrading? (Score:5, Informative)

    by theurge14 (820596) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:01PM (#44253871)

    Suddenly millions of people cried out at once when they realized they haven't used a PC expansion slot in over 5 years.

    The "PC enthusiast" scene has been quietly dying for years.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      The "PC enthusiast" scene has been quietly dying for years.

      As the technology matures, there's less and less to be enthusiastic about. It moves from technology frontier to everyday to mundane. Sure, there are PC enthusiasts just like there are car enthusiasts, but their numbers are nowadays tiny compared to the number of cars and PCs out there, respectively. Car enthusiasts, for some reason, are slightly higher in relative abundance, it'd seem, than PC enthusiasts. Perhaps understanding cars, especially old cars, takes a bit less brains?

      • Re:Upgrading? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:23PM (#44254121) Homepage
        Im not so sure that PC enthusiasts are down, I just think there is a larger audience of PC users today then when it was still a hobby and therefore it seems small. at one point we were the big fish in a small pond, now we are the small fish in a big pond
        • by Kjella (173770)

          Im not so sure that PC enthusiasts are down, I just think there is a larger audience of PC users today then when it was still a hobby and therefore it seems small. at one point we were the big fish in a small pond, now we are the small fish in a big pond

          In terms of hardware I'm pretty sure it's down, there used to be a lot more to tinkering with your PC. Today you grab a motherboard, slap in a quad core, single high end gaming card, 16GB RAM and a SSD and call it pretty much done for a moderate enthusiast build. For every component in my PC there's s reasonably priced upgrade if I'd care enough to want it and I couldn't really be arsed to overclock it because if there's any instability it'll be the nagging doubt that it's because of my overclock. It is dim

          • by adolf (21054)

            In terms of hardware I'm pretty sure it's down, there used to be a lot more to tinkering with your PC. Today you grab a motherboard, slap in a quad core, single high end gaming card, 16GB RAM and a SSD and call it pretty much done for a moderate enthusiast build.

            Yeah, just like you used to buy a 386 board, slap in a CPU, a multi-IO card, some manner of video card, as much RAM as you could afford or make use of, and the largest IDE hard drive that you could get your wallet around. If you liked games or maki

            • Re:Upgrading? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:45PM (#44258495) Homepage

              Ah, the good old days! The most insane overclock I ever saw back in 486 days was a friend of mine who dragged his 386 around to play a bit of Doom. We were all running 486DX33 / 486DX66 machines which powered through Doom and figured the 386 would be a pretty poor contender - right until he fired it up and loaded the game. It was screaming along as well as the 486s were, and that's when he told me he had overclocked it to something like 99mz. He reckons it took ages to find a chip he could do that to, but there were tons of them at his work no longer in use so he swapped them in and out till he found a really good one :D

      • You are just a bit early for the PC enthusiasts to be equal to the car enthusiasts. Cars are over 100 years old now and PC's are just over 30.

        PC's of today are where cars were back in the 1980's They have started to move away from things that we build and tinker with and into the buy what you need and take it to a specialist to fix. The real enthusiasts will still be building systems just as the real car enthusiasts are still building and working on cars. The next step is the true customization phase. Custo

      • by PRMan (959735)
        You used to have to know a lot to be good with computers and a magazine was the only way to do it before the internet. Now, they are so easy almost anyone can use them and look things up on the internet.
    • I have built 2 brand new systems in the last year. About to build a Haswell when Summer is over. I always add a video card because I can't stand on-board video. I even had to put a wireless card in one of my systems where an ethernet cable was not an option. I think it has slowed down, but there is still a large crowd out there. I even see it gathering people where it never has before. Console gamers are moving to build there own computers for expandability, options, and control over their own system.
  • A Quibble (Score:4, Informative)

    by HiThere (15173) <`charleshixsn' `at' `earthlink.net'> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:07PM (#44253941)

    It is mischaracterized as "the last general-interest magazine", as at least when I last read it, over a decade ago now, it was quite MSWind centric. It didn't even cover Apple.

    Admittedly, i didn't make a large sample at that time, but that was merely to confirm that it hadn't change. Byte and Dr. Dobbs were much more general interest (though Dr. Dobbs was a bit technical for that description).

    • by Bill Dimm (463823)

      It didn't even cover Apple.

      They had some articles on apple [magportal.com] and even linux [magportal.com].

    • by Nimey (114278)

      IIRC it'd been basically Windows-centric since several months after Windows 95's release. After that point I stopped seeing anything about MS-DOS or OS/2.

  • Advertising (Score:5, Funny)

    by twoears (1514043) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:12PM (#44254001)
    So where are Compuserve and AOL going to get all their customers?
  • Next up : TIME? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OakDragon (885217) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:12PM (#44254005) Journal

    Over at TIME, I paused to reflect upon the end of the once-booming category...

    Tick-tock, TIME, tick-tock...

  • There are very few topics which justify scheduled print at this point. It's important, for example, to have print newspapers so kidnappers can confirm in photograph that their hostage is alive today and not a fortnight ago.

  • end of second era (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#44254273) Homepage Journal
    The first era of the PC ended with Byte. This was when people actually put computers together, actually understood what the computer was doing, and wasn't obsessed with memory and clock speed unless it actually improved performance. Then, over the past 20 years it simply became what MS Windows machine to buy and how expensive MS Office is. So PC World ending might signal a world in which we are trying to innovative things with computers again, albeit in a much more restrictive environment.
    • I don't know what you are talking about. I assembled a new computer just last year. It is far less challenging than it used to be since today most things are integrated on the motherboard. But at least I can still have my choice of graphics card, CPU, RAM, disk, etc.

      • It's pretty easy to slap a mobo into a case and maybe some cards and call it building a PC.

        In the day I can recall BYTE magazine running a series of articles that published the schematics to a computer you could actually assemble from parts at home. You needed to actually place all the resisters, ICs, and gubbins on the board, and solder it all together and hopefully get a working machine from that.

        • I used to play with TTL chips and breadboards to make circuits out of gates. The thing is at the levels of integration used today you are not going to be able to build even the I/O chips by yourself. The best you can hope is to program an FPGA into doing what you want.

    • The first era of the PC ended with Byte. This was when people actually put computers together, actually understood what the computer was doing, and wasn't obsessed with memory and clock speed unless it actually improved performance.

      By that definition, there never was an era of the PC because virtually nobody who wasn't a professional understood what the computer was actually doing once CPU's got more complex than the 4004. The same goes for memory and clock speed, whether hobbyists or early adopters, nobod

  • I used to work for MaximumPC magazine (I wrote Linux columns on their website a few years ago) and I saw the writing on the wall even then. Dead-tree magazines (especially tech-related) have been on their last legs for awile now.
    • Gordon Mah Ung, he's even more annoying than Dvorak!

    • Speaking of; at least MaximumPC is still in print. I've picked up a copy or two from my local Micro Center store. It's great when you want to spend some quality time on the crapper and unplugged from the Internet.

  • Is that you, Alistair ?
  • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:23PM (#44254693) Homepage Journal

    I had a subscription to PC World for a few years in the mid '90s. It was a pretty good mag back then, although even then I could detect a bias towards corporate purchasing types in at least some of the content. As time went on it had less content and more ads. My mother bought me a couple issues fiveish years ago and there wasn't much left of what I remembered. It'd gotten dumbed-down quite a bit, but that probably has something to do with the democratization of computing.

  • by SnappyTech (2809279) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:38PM (#44254825)
    The death of BYTE magazine and Creative Computing Magazines hit me HARD. I subscribed to them in high school after I spent $3,000 on a Apple II with 32k RAM. I could not comprehend how such amazing magazines could die. I can't even raise a brow at any magazine that vanishes now, especially when the world of Internet information is at hand.
    • by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Thursday July 11, 2013 @04:42PM (#44255499) Journal

      BYTE died for me when they let Jerry Pournelle spew his pig-ignorance all over its pages as a regular columnist. I loved it back in the days of Steve Ciarcia.

      -jcr

    • by lord_mike (567148)

      I still miss Creative Computing to this day. It was a fantastic magazine--one of a kind, really. You'll never find anything like that ever again, that's for sure! Program listings, discussion of algorithms, along with the "Standard" reviews and opinions. It was truly one for the ages.

    • BYTE, Creative Computing and Dr. Dobbs were my crack back then, especially Dr. Dobbs since I am a programmer. I don't miss PC Mag. It was irrelvant even back then, and more so after the internet took off. Why do I want to read an article that is 3 months out of date on which printer I should buy (surprise, it was always one with a lot of advertising in that issue, often right next to the 'article') ? Don't even get me started on those idiots, Pournelle and Dvork.

  • It will still continue in digital, so, now, instead of taking your PCWorld mag to the bathroom, you'll be taking your tablet! :)
  • I was always too poor to afford any of the things written about in PCWorld or PCMag, but I had subscriptions that became sort of like the big wish book of old, where I dreamed of one day owning a Coleco Adam or Ti994A.

    At that time, I actually had no computer at all. One of my friends got a complete Gateway 486DX2-66 system with a laser printer back when that sort of kit cost $5000. She would print stuff off usenet and use reams of paper just because she could. That her parents could drop 5G on a comput

  • Sad To See Them Go (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:03PM (#44257195)

    I used to work for a competitor of theirs (Windows Magazine), but I'm sad to see them go. Not PC World in general, but the "computer magazine" market in particular seems to have slid downhill a lot. As for the PC World staff goes, I sympathize a lot. I actually went through 2 shut downs with Windows Magazine. The first when we were called in by marketing, told we had a "great product but they didn't know how to sell it" so they were shutting us down. We went web-only and I remained on to work on their website. The second when a last-minute company-wide phone conference was called (never a good sign) and we were told that they were moving away from making their own content and would just rebrand others' content.

    • by 6Yankee (597075)

      I actually went through 2 shut downs with Windows Magazine.

      To install the security updates, I guess.

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