Saturday, 23 February 2013

Windows (in more sense than one)

 Me and my son were playing this morning with a small brown truck of his.  When I say truck it's probably more of a four by four car variant, by which I mean one of those things that look tough but probably aren't actually as good off road as a forty year old Land Rover, but nevertheless everyone wants for the school run.

 I asked my son, "How many wheels are there?"
 He considered this for a moment, and then declared "Four!"
 Full marks for that one.  I decided to push the boundary a little.
 "Do you know where the windows are?" I asked.
 He looked at me confused for a moment, as if to say what on Earth does that have to do with the topic at hand father, before pointing at the house window.
 Not the answer I was looking for but right nonetheless.

 I'm going to make a rash declaration now.
 I think Microsoft Windows won't be here in ten years time.
 Possibly five.
 The reason for this is that the way we use technology is changing.  Instead of having "The PC" we can now surf the internet on the TV, on our games console, we can write emails on our phones or tablets, all of which are ready to use faster than the traditional PC, crash less often, are simpler to use, and in the case of the last two mobile.
 People are going to start looking at why we tie ourselves to an expensive operating system which appears to take ages to load, crashes regularly and isn't always that easy to fix.
 Of course, the advantage Windows held was that anyone could write a program to run on it.  But the new mobile systems offered by Apple and Linux are better for the vast majority of users, in that programs are rated by users so poor programs are discarded, leaving the cream of the crop easily visible and installable.
 I've started not to write documents on my PC any more - instead I write them using Google Docs. Why not?  I don't have to worry about hard disc failure trashing my work, and I can access them from anywhere.  So the case for paying for an expensive Office suite also goes out the window, especially when alternatives such as OpenOffice can be used for free.
 I'm not a Microsoft-basher at all, I grew up using Microsoft systems.  I remember the first time I used Windows and how wonderful it was to use (yes really).  I remember making programs with Microsoft Visual Basic.  I use it on a daily basis at work, and I'm writing this using a PC running Windows 7 right now.
 But from what I hear Windows 8 isn't fantastic, and that could be the first nail in the coffin for Microsoft.
 The new mobile internet world, of which names like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are king, is one which Microsoft hasn't got a handle on.  And it's a real shame - who hasn't got an old Hotmail (okay Windows Live Mail) account floating around from way back?
 I really hope Microsoft can work out what it needs to do to transform itself into an organisation fit for the current and future technological age.  I guess we'll see.

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