The computer chain has announced that once existing stock runs out it will no longer be selling the flagging floppy disk format. It’s no coincidence that the move comes in the midst of the Vista launch, which PC World sees as the beginning of a new era.
“We announced yesterday that we were killing off the floppy disk and the link is that the original Microsoft operating system could be held on one, whereas you would need 10,000 to hold Vista. It’s a case of out with the old and in with the new,” Hamish Thompson, director of media relations at PC World’s parent company DSG International told PC Retail.
Computers with built in floppy disk drives make up about two per cent of all desktops and laptops sold by PC World, and even this small percentage is set to be phased out by the summer. The waning commitment to the format is quite obviously due to the increased usage of USB memory sticks, re-writable CDs and mass internet access – but the launch of the next generation OS has provided the impetus to for the retail giant to finally turn its back on the icon of desktop computing.
The storage format took its first blow in 1998 when Apple unveiled its iMac with no floppy disk drive included, while later on in 2003 Dell stopped integrating its higher end PCs with floppy disk drives. It is estimated that in 1998 two billion floppy disks were sold, compared to 700 million in 2006.
However the format, developed by IBM in 1971 and standardised by Sony ten years later, is not being dispatched by PC World without a tinge of nostalgia.
"The sound of a computer's floppy disk drive will be as closely associated with 20th century computing as the sound of a computer dialling into the internet," said Bryan Magrath, commercial director of PC World.