The Death of the Operating System Revisited

Part of the joy of writing a technology focused blog is seeing where you are and are your predictions on the path to reality, or at least bits and pieces.  Which brings me to a piece I wrote  9 months ago titled “Death of the Operating System“. We could probably tie this also to my last post on the Tablet as they seem mutually inter-twined.  It is amazing what has happened in that short amount of time, but I see no reason to alter my previous projection, which is the desktop OS as we know it will is slowly dying unless the folks in Redmond make some radical change in direction.  Three things in my view continue to drive this monumental change: The Cloud (web), mobility and interactivity.

Not a day goes by where we do not hear something about thee cloud.  Either directly or indirectly.  Some services are designed for the cloud and though the desktop is still useful the cloud is where all the action is.  There are enterprise apps where you have a browser interface and access content stored,  only god knows where on the planet.   An example would be SalesForce.Com which is fast becoming the premier Customer Relationship management system (CRM).  All data resides in the cloud, nothing is loaded on your desktop.   There are also plenty of consumer based applications, some you might say “I did not know that was a cloud application”, but Facebook and Twitter certainly fall in that category.  Try finding your friends profile on your desktop…not there.  it is somewhere on the planet just not in your house or office.

Then there is mobility.  We all want to be free to be productive where we want and when we want,  We do not want to lug a heavy laptop around that we need to sit down, flip open the monitor, press a bunch of keys and that is just to boot up (wait 3 minutes).  We want the device to be in in an instant so we can start doing whatever it is we need to do.  We want longer battery life as we may not be near a power outlet for sometime.  We may want to pass around our device and have it be user friendly for our friends.  We want to be connected, just not by a cord.  We are a society on the go, moving at an ever increasing pace.  The beauty of mobility is it allows us to live.

Finally there is interacting with our devices.  The idea of sitting down at a desk and using a mouse is just not that attractive anymore.  The tablets we have today in the market are all touch screen driven.  Most phones today are touch screen (thank you…Apple).  People are flicking their fingers as fast as they can rather than struggling to find where their mouse pointer is on the screen.Next up I can foresee better voice interaction with our devices. It has been around for a while, it just has not been very good.  How we interact seems to be more and more an extension of our physical presence.

In the end it is not so much about what is the “best” OS, but what enables life’s experience.  It’s not that the operating system is dead, but we need to think of it differently.  There will be no “Windows 95” moment.  That is dated and will not happen again.  There are some who keep waiting for it, but they will be left shuddering in the cold rain, what hey wait for is something called nostalgia  There are going to be lots of breakthroughs in technology in the near future, but as I highlighted they will be in the cloud, in mobility and in the end user’s satisfactory experience, they will enable freedom and they will be fun!!

In titling this “The Death of the Operating Systems” I may be misleading the reader a bit.  I am not saying that you will no longer need an operating systems, but maybe more accurately you don’t care about the operating system.  Though an integral part of enabling the experience no one spends time in their “operating system”.  People spend time on Facebook or writing lengthy blogs that millions of people read (or maybe 10 people read).  Technology has become a great form of self expression.  What the desktop provides is a window to the web or the network (remember the network is the computer?).  To the Facebook, Twitter or whatever experience you want.  The desktop enables these end user experiences but in the end it is not the final result.  There would be those that it would be wise to understand this current phenom or perish in its every increasing velocity.

Good Night and Good Luck

Hans Henrik Hoffmann April 11, 2011

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