Monday, 20 July 2009

Is the future web based or desktop?

I've been fascinated by the announcement of the Google Chrome OS particularly since I'm getting into Android and I wondered how this would affect things. Liam Green Hughes has put out his view that Google OS will be best for business users. I think he has a valid point but in truth I feel that a large number of ordinary users would prefer a web os over the monolith that is either windows or linux.

When I get home I don't want to use a pc. I want to communicate. I don't do any fancy video or picture editing. I just want to watch stuff, play a few games, chat. Stuff like that. Now sure the games aren't the best yet but then when flash gets working on the Google OS if it's not in place straight away then there are a growing number of games that suit.

Either way I just want to get into facebook, my mail, my im or whatever. I don't do much at home that needs big processing power or harddrive space. I may just want to watch tv but that's becoming easier and easier now and some tvs are now being shipped with browsers inside (I forget the reference however).

So my point is that I think more people than you'd think would be happy with a web only os for now. Most people I can think of would be. They aren't tech heads who love working on computers. They just use their computers or laptops as a portal to the web much like most of us use our cars to get to work. We're not all motorheads who live on our cars and don't do anything else.

I also think that if built right then a web only os should actually be able to replicate much of what we know today as desktop applications. Tech like google gears provides offline storage. Rich javascript support provides a lot of the necessary functionality. I would expect a web OS to do a lot of the heavy lifting so that javascript and html etc are left to do the simpler tasks they're designed for. I feel most desktop apps are designed for a paradigm with separate memory processes. Where memory and network resources weren't used particularly efficiently. as far as I understand it most application don't share a lot of their resources, rather they have dedicated sets of memory and cpu processes etc. Even though they often use similar underlying features of the OS. Newer approaches have looked to address these performance hogs.

I've noticed how most android applications are particularly small and light on resources. Of course they have no choice because they couldn't run otherwise. But I've also been reading that Google have gone to great lengths to reduce the work each application has to do to get a result. This is where I think older OS's fail because they're still essentially built from a design that assumes a powerful cpu and lots of memory. They don't focus enough on aggressive efficiency.

I'm really saying that i'm not convinced the current OS's make best use of resources. Hence why we need such well equipped machines. I feel newer OS's with a focus on efficiency of resource will change the way we look at OS's and how we use them.

I also feel it depends on how good the web connection is for most of us. In the UK we just don't seem to be winning the race. We're around mid place or somewhere. Yet I hear of other countries with out our history and infrastructure that are streets ahead already and the gap will just keep widening. I think that's where Google is really talking about growth and the future. in the UK we are but 60 million people. Even the whole of Europe is around 300 million or so. Yet Russia, Brazil, India and China account for around 3-4 billion people and are currently the fastest growing markets (or atleast growing a lot faster than Europe and North America). It's these places where I expect the growth in internet access to be fastest because they just don't have the regulation that we have.

Maybe I'm a cynic but I've heard the idea that the motor car could never take off in todays society. The response would be 'what!!!! youve got something that burns oil, moves at 60 mph and carries 40 litres of flammable liquid and you want to put a human inside it. oh and you want to put 20 million of these on the roads.? Don't be so silly. Health and safety would never agree to it'

Think about it. Wifi is radio. there's all this worry about what the radio waves will do us. If you were to make free wifi available to the entire country you'd need the kind of antennas used for radio. But there'd be massive protests about all this radiation and its effect on us, the environment and whatever.

I'm not saying it's a silly concern I'm just saying that's the state of the developed world today. The emerging countries have none of these concerns because they're poor. They haven't got our riches and thus they're citizens faced death and disease more regularly than we do. So they have something to lose. We don't. We're all relatively well off so we've got more to lose than they do.

so I don't think that europe figures so highly in the next tech boom. We're too busy arguing and holding on to what we already have to take the risk and just get things sorted.

We're also too ingrained in this desktop world. It's what so many people expect and they don't want to change. yet look to india who have built a pc that has no screen. It may be accepted there because most people haven't used a computer so they didn't know they came with screens in the first place.

I keep wondering what it was that lead to Romes demise, and the demise of all the great civilisations. I expect the answer will be that they tgot civilised in the first place. They were tired of all the rush to fix all their problems and eventually stopped trying to fix them. They just wanted things to stop changing. that meant other, hungrier people came and took what they wanted because the civilised people lost the ability to compete and the ability to defend themselves. They just fell behind and got lazy.

I'm hearing a lot of people suggest that those int he developed world might fall behind and I'm wondering it myself.
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