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 PostPost subject: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:55 pm 
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Google's announcement this week that it would enter the desktop operating system business with an OS based on its Chrome browser has unleashed a firestorm of commentary, hand-wringing, and proclamations. It's the perfect tech industry debate, because the OS itself doesn't even exist, we can't look at it, and it's not even close to being a shipping product. But this much is clear--and in this, I am simply adding my voice to the cacophony of opinion out there--Google's entry into the OS market marks the beginning of the end of the traditional desktop OS as we all know it. That means Windows, of course, but it also means Mac OS X and desktop Linux.

If that sounds radical to you, just relax for a second. Breathe.

Here's what I mean. Google doesn't have to ship even a line of code for this release to have its effect on the industry. They will, of course, but the reality is that we were moving towards cloud computing anyway. Today's computing world is a hybrid one in which we mix and match traditional PC applications (Outlook, Word, iTunes) with cloud-based solutions (Gmail, Google Calendar, Flickr), but the traditional apps probably outweigh the cloud stuff for most. That mix is changing will favor cloud-based solutions over time. And just as the PC world is moving from one of mostly desktop PCs to one of mostly laptops, so too will software move mostly to the cloud.

Google's announcement is an explicit acceptance of this future, but so what? Google is very much a cloud computing company anyway, so the only real drama here is that they finally feel mature enough to actually go after Microsoft's most core of products. But Google has been moving in this direction for years. Google Apps, Wave, and the various synchronization and Microsoft conversion tools that Google has announced or shipped have all been major thrusts in a war with the software giant. With the Chrome OS, Google has simply made it official: Total war.

This war isn't against just Windows, however. It's a war against the past. It's a war against the desktop computing model employed by Mac OS X and desktop Linux as well. I'm curious that so few news stories and commentaries about this announcement missed this very basic fact. I'd argue, indeed, that the biggest short-term harm that Chrome OS will cause will be to Microsoft's desktop OS competitors, and not to Windows.

But Windows will be affected, make no mistake. Right now, I bet, there are strategy sessions occurring in Microsoft's Redmond campus. Some are arguing that Google needs to be met head-on. Some are more derisive towards Chrome OS, wondering what all the fuss is about. How Microsoft fares in the future will depend on who wins this argument. But this much is clear: Windows will have to change. It may change quickly, it may change slowly, but Windows is going to change.

Last month, in the wake of yet another Google inroad into Microsoft's core markets (Google Rains on Microsoft's Exchange Parade), I noted that the software giant's approach to cloud computing is wrong because Microsoft is trying to meld its old-fashioned business model to work on the web. This won't be successful. Instead, I argued, Microsoft needs to "stop considering some of its core products—Windows, Office, Exchange, and so on—as top money earners but rather as ways in which to entice customers to play in its ecosystem. Like Google's offerings, these products should be profitable but perhaps much, much less expensive ... I know it sounds radical. But the alternative—a world in which Google constantly erodes at Microsoft's messaging and other server solutions—is even less attractive. Just ask IBM. Or what's left of Lotus."

Put simply, Microsoft and Google approach cloud computing from completely different world-views, and Google's is, in this case, the correct one. In the Microsoft model, it must continue its past successes (Windows, Server, Office, and so on) by moving them to the cloud in ways that retain their previous licensing windfalls. Google's view is much simpler and will win out because it saves customers money: Google derives revenue from web ads, pure and simple. If you use their solutions, you'll be exposed to those ads, so they make money. But the user doesn't have to pay for these products--or in some cases, pays very little--so it's a win-win. (And really, when was the last time you even noticed an ad in Gmail?)

Today, you can choose between Microsoft's complex and expensive (self-hosted Exchange) solutions and their less complex but still expensive (Microsoft-hosted Exchange) solutions. Google offers simple and free (Google Apps) and simple and cheap (Google Apps Premium). Again, the winner is clear, assuming both sides offer similar or identical functionality. It's just a matter of time.

None of this means that Microsoft is suddenly a historical footnote. But for the software giant to survive or succeed in the future, it is going to have to walk away from the revenue models of the past and embrace this new world. That means changing everything, including Windows.

There will be half steps, fits and starts, and Microsoft will temporarily go down the wrong path. But I think the company is smart enough to pull through this. They'll have to market the strengths of its hybrid OS model as it moves more and more of its wares online. It will have to drop prices, and dramatically. It will need to move quickly, something it's rarely done in recent years.

Microsoft's desktop OS competitors will need to follow suit. I'm not as concerned about those systems as I am with Windows, of course, but each has various advantages that will make the transition potentially easier. Apple, of course, has already ported its Mac OS X to the iPhone, an almost ideal mobile device and exactly the kind of portable platform that will define the future of computing. Linux, meanwhile, can be found on a number of portable devices, and of course Chrome OS, which is based on Linux, could simply become the volume Linux platform the future anyway.

Whatever happens, prepare for change. Any day now, Microsoft will announce that it has completed development of Windows 7, and right on schedule. Hey, good for them. Windows 7 is a fantastic desktop OS, one that will be warmly met by hundreds of millions of users around the world. But you know what? It's also the past. Google Chrome OS marks the end of an era, and whether we end up using that system or something called Windows isn't yet clear. But I hope Microsoft is serious about this change, and ready to do the hard work it will take to lead in this coming generation of cloud-based computing. This is the turning point.

I'm still not personally buying it. I don't want to be tethered to the internet, the technology still isn't there, especially for many parts of the world. Some parts of the United States still don't offer GSM based EDGE, nontheless faster solutions like Cable, or DSL, or 3G. And what if Cable internet goes out? I can't use word processing, unless Offline Modes seriously improve. I can't play games if they're all silverlight/flash based in the cloud. I won't be able to watch my movies, listen to music, etc. if they're all streaming on the web. Will the infrastructure still be in place 10 years from then, or will it be moved to a different company, and there goes all my data?

I'm keeping with my hard drive based solutions, and I expect many people to for quite a while unless things seriously change.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:58 pm 
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I agree. On top of not having EDGE/3G networks all over the US, not every computer is connected to the internet. I know a lot of families that have computers in their homes, but aren't connected to the internet for whatever reason. Therefore, I think that HDD-ran app's are going to be around for a good while.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:14 am 
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darthtk118 wrote:
I agree. On top of not having EDGE/3G networks all over the US, not every computer is connected to the internet. I know a lot of families that have computers in their homes, but aren't connected to the internet for whatever reason. Therefore, I think that HDD-ran app's are going to be around for a good while.


+1

I know people who all they have use there machine for is music and GBA roms, also giving the economic climate and the overpriced internet in much of the world, a fair amount of people still do not have internet.

And giving the rise of SSD, and how they are going to eventually be affordable, I don't think that the speed of a internet connection is going to be comparable to a speed of a SSD using a high speed interface.

Somehow playing crisis on adobe flash doesn't feel right :P

Unless it's local disk drive based, IMO it's not going anywhere

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:52 am 
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I pray that the OS doesn't go "cloud", it would nearly put me an a few thousand other people who build custom computers out of business.
I have many computers that I would never want to be cloud computers, ones that have their own personalities with the HDD (Some are so slow it drives people insane, good for when you have that annoying brat who sits next to you at lunch, and you _just_want_them_to_shut_up_, so you give them a slow-as-fark laptop, and they are occupied for the rest of the time with their facebook, myspace, and whatnot)
I can see some uses for "cloud" like email, and possibly social networking (both work well when they aren't HDD based) but if you have to load a program off the internet, espically if you are still using Dialup (Like my mom) you have the choice between connecting to the internet, waiting an hour for the program to load, disconnecting from the internet when the program is loaded, and then when you want to load any menu, you had better pray that you have connected first, otherwise the page crashes, and you have to start over... I'd much rather stick to double clicking, waiting no more than a minute (even on my 300mhz celeron, Word '07 loads in about 45 seconds) and having it there for good.
Supposedly it will "save" you money, but you pay a huge price in productivity lost when it comes to switching to cloud (I tried "Google Docs" and a few others, and they aren't like Office at all... you loose time learning how to use it, and you loose time waiting for things to get done)
The cost of Office ($50 for student\teacher) is more of a convience fee to make sure that you can use the program, even when you don't have internet (As in, on the road, at someone elses house... many solutions where people aren't rich enough to pay for mobile broadband, and they would rather have something just work than have to hunt down a wifi network, hope and pray that there is internet that you can use (and not some dumb "pay per use" type of deal) and then hope that it will stay connected while you use said application. or... hunt for the wireless password (I know people who have no idea what their wifi password is, they had the phone company set it all up when they got DSL or cable)

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:20 am 
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And where does cloud computing leave 3rd world countries without internet access, or countries like Australia & New Zealand where the internet is slow and we have monthly quotas.
How could I run programs over the internet when my current bandwith can't even support high-def streaming on youtube?

ADD: And what if I went over my monthly quota, that'd basically render my computer useless now wouldn't it.

Also: Who'd want to use an OS made by google, stikes me as way to much of a monopoly, worse than that of Microsoft. They'd controll the OS, the browser, and they'd be the site most people use to find their way around the internet. That was part of my reason for not liking chrome when it came out, why would I want to use a borwser made by the people who try to force me to look at their dodgy ads all day.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:31 am 
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It strikes me that Google has lost it's focus completely.

They used to take pride in the fact that their advertising platforms / search platform was platform independent and implied that they didn't really care who made the OS.

I much prefer to have a full os. When I'm working in a mway service station I prefer to have my documents to hand to work on, rather than some unreachable US server.

I eagerly await laughing at Google's support techniques for this Google OS. What's the betting the frontline support will be community based through Google groups? :mrgreen:

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:45 am 
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Just another point...Gos shares 3 out of 5 board member with Google. Given the timeframe, I reckon Google will simply be looking at a full acquisition of Gos (CLOUD).

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:58 am 
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Derf wrote:
I'm still not personally buying it. I don't want to be tethered to the internet, the technology still isn't there, especially for many parts of the world. Some parts of the United States still don't offer GSM based EDGE, nontheless faster solutions like Cable, or DSL, or 3G. And what if Cable internet goes out? I can't use word processing, unless Offline Modes seriously improve. I can't play games if they're all silverlight/flash based in the cloud. I won't be able to watch my movies, listen to music, etc. if they're all streaming on the web. Will the infrastructure still be in place 10 years from then, or will it be moved to a different company, and there goes all my data?


Oh man, cloud computing over EDGE :|. The maximum speed you can get from EDGE is only 236kbps anyway. It'd be interesting falling back to GPRS :S You could always say "googog 3G", ie Telstra's 21mbps NextG but every base station would need to be upgraded, consumers would need new equipment and those towers generally only have 100mbit< backbones anyway.

Then what about rural users? There is my uncle, who is stuck on 24kbps dialup, Telstra ripped out all the ISDN cards from the exchange when they kicked everyone off standard ISDN because noone wanted ISDN2 (significantly more expensive for same speed). Satellite is still prohibitively expensive (something like $60 for 500mb) and the laaaagggggg.

Even if he had DSL, ALOT of the rural telephone exchanges out here connect via a wireless/satellite solution which still means lag.

Then theres privacy - I don't want some random in a datacentre lookign at my holiday snaps!


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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:55 pm 
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happy dude wrote:
Derf wrote:
I'm still not personally buying it. I don't want to be tethered to the internet, the technology still isn't there, especially for many parts of the world. Some parts of the United States still don't offer GSM based EDGE, nontheless faster solutions like Cable, or DSL, or 3G. And what if Cable internet goes out? I can't use word processing, unless Offline Modes seriously improve. I can't play games if they're all silverlight/flash based in the cloud. I won't be able to watch my movies, listen to music, etc. if they're all streaming on the web. Will the infrastructure still be in place 10 years from then, or will it be moved to a different company, and there goes all my data?


Oh man, cloud computing over EDGE :|. The maximum speed you can get from EDGE is only 236kbps anyway. It'd be interesting falling back to GPRS :S You could always say "googog 3G", ie Telstra's 21mbps NextG but every base station would need to be upgraded, consumers would need new equipment and those towers generally only have 100mbit< backbones anyway.

Yeah, that's my point, some parts of the country and world don't even have the most basic internet connections, making cloud computing among those parts absolutely impossible.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:02 pm 
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Yeah, my take is, there will be some more cloud based applications, but there will always be those traditional apps because there are some things that the cloud applications just cant do. Also, I agree, not all people have internet in this world, it'd be cool if they did, but they just don't so I don't think we'll be going full cloud OSes anytime soon.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:19 am 
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Its dangerous individualism is being lost. Imagine the difficulty in bootlegging software or keeping information secret. Imagine if somebody ran a search on all your browsing history.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Paul Thurrott's Take on the Future computing        Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:00 am 
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Frozenport wrote:
Its dangerous individualism is being lost. Imagine the difficulty in bootlegging software or keeping information secret. Imagine if somebody ran a search on all your browsing history.

I never thought of that, with a cloud OS they'd have access to our browsing historys, could even keep their own logs of various activities.


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