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VodkaPundit

Microsoft Out in the Cold?

September 11th, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Jason Perlow on what comes next, after Apple introduced the first 64-bit “desktop class” mobile CPU:

I expect that our smartphones will become the center of our computing experience and even extend themselves to tablets and the desktop, through a unified operating system that runs identically on all three form factors and is supplanted by back-end Cloud services which will do the heavy lifting for our line-of-business applications and data.

To take the concept even further, I expect that smartphones will become the “brain” of modular tablet and notebook PC designs, much like was envisioned for the Ubuntu Edge.

For this transformation to occur, the operating system must be converged first. I believe that within just a few years, all of the major players will have converged systems to offer.

Microsoft has already ported Windows to ARM and is unifying its developer target by bringing Windows Phone and Windows 8.x closer to API parity.

Apple started it. Google is ready for it. Microsoft is getting left out of it. Yeah, Windows has been ported to ARM — resulting in a billion-dollar writedown on unsold tablets. Three to five years out is when iOS and Android/Chrome will really start to put the squeeze on Redmond’s Windows/Office cash cows. Perhaps sooner.

However, I’m ambivalent about this whole convergence idea. I like my desktop to work like desktop and to do the things a desktop does. Ditto for my laptop. And I want my phone to be a phone and my tablet to be a tablet. None of them work quite the same way as the others, and I lean on each one most heavily for completely different functions. I’m not sure what is gained by slipping my phone into some larger device to provide its brains, when the cloud will (or at least should) “just work” at synching my data and documents.

Services seems to be the core function to me, not convergence.

But Google does services better, while Apple is better at hardware. So Apple might have a vested interest in making some insanely great converged hardware, to better compete with Google’s hardware-agnostic services.

As of right now though, I view convergence the way I view the mythical iWatch: Until I see it in action, I remain dubious about its prospects.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Microsoft banked on selling its cloud service to small to medium sized companies. Alas, Softie's cloud baby was strangled in its crib by NSA snooping.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The reason that Apple is great at hardware isn't classic hardware engineering. You could always make a white box x86 frankencomputer that would have better specs and usually for less money. Apple's value proposition has always been about making all that stuff just work so that the complexities of the hardware, firmware, software all sort of melt into the background that supports you in doing whatever it is that you do.

I think the future will have a place for that value proposition.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Last thought on this:

If you had a handheld touch screen, a tablet screen, a laptop setup, a desktop monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse... Would you care if all of them were powered by the same computer brick as long as the interface worked? What if it meant you were paying for one computer instead of 4?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Understanding convergence is simple, VP. ROI, more simply, spend less money for the same computer usage. If you own a phone, tablet and MacBook, you probably only ever use one of those three processing units at any one time. Thus, two processors are just wasting their value while a 3rd hardware unit does the work. So why pay for 3 if two will just be laying about?

Lets break it down easier:
1. Desktop applications have fewer hardware requirements as the Services you mention take over.
2. Mobile device hardware is rapidly improving, Apple just releasing a 64bit processor on mobile and all.

Thus there is a convergence point where desktop hardware requirements and mobile hardware capabilities meet. Then it's just a matter of having an OS that can change its presentation (see web responsive design).

Imagine possessing an iPhone that shows ios apps in hand but when you airplay to a monitor you can use osx with keyboard and mouse from the same device. Additional horsepower could be bought and extended from the monitor using thunderbolt connections.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
My desktop can't leave my desk, because it's my mail server for bringing mail from several domains together into the proper iCloud folders. It also serves up music and shows to all the Apple TVs in the house. That brain requires a fixed location.

As a parent, my phone and my tablet can't share a brain, because the tablet needs to get some kid time, even when -- especially when! -- I'm on the phone.

There might be a case for being able to slip my phone brain into my laptop, but we've seen the laptop that slips into a desktop done before -- and it mostly sucked. And stunk up the market, too.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see what you're saying about the server needing a fixed location. The tech exists to change that but I don't see it being implemented anytime soon.

At the same time, how many in the mass market have those same needs? Certainly the power users. But most of the mass market needs a media consumption device and occasionally something to do homework, office work, etc... You know something with keyboard and mouse. I don't see convergence as a replacement for server hardware needs but rather as a replacement for basic productivity desktop and laptop models.

As to the laptop slipping into desktop mostly sucking, you and I live in different worlds. Enterprise has thrived on the dockable laptop concept for a good long while.

As a final note regarding the tablet and phone not being able to share a brain, you assume a single brain can not handle multiple views simultaneously. I run virtual machines all the time on a single cpu and have fired one wirelessly to a remote screen as well. This tech is readily available, already in use, just hasn't been commoditized for the mass market. As wireless display technologies flesh out, remote multidisplay will become the next logical step. Think about how iron man can "throw" his displays to multiple screens.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The dockable laptop was a largely cost-saving and standardization thing. It didn't work as well as an actual desktop, but allowed for employees to work remotely without the cost of an additional machine per head. When you employ a lot of heads, especially in the era when a desktop machine was a four-figure item, it was not insignificant.

These days, it's largely useless. If you need a powerful workstation, a laptop, no matter how speedy or with how many peripherals attached to it, just isn't going to do the job. If you don't, you have a laptop or an iPad and generally don't need a secondary display or anything else to get in your way.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You know what's funny? My wife, who works at a Fortune 50 company, corrected me on the dockable thing almost as soon as I'd written it.

The tech-form-function gap between corporate and individual/contractor continues to widen, I think.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wouldn't say it's widening so much as I'd say consumer tech has temporarily jumped ahead. Enterprise is STILL struggling to figure out how to adjust to the mobile form factor, BYOD and everything the mobile revolution tossed out.

But enterprise stands to gain from convergence in the same way they gained from laptop docking. And as to MrLion's statement on a laptop not having the power, this is why Enterprise combines the laptop docking with sever based virtual machines. When you turn the processing over to a VM on a Blade Server... Yeah, no desktop can touch that power.

As enterprise figures this "mobile thing out" (CIO's and CFO's can be histerical about this subject), the gap will close and there will be greater exploration into the potential for comvergence of these technologies and the various form factors. It will not be the right solution for everyone but for a large majority a single device with a few peripherals and server based services will be more than sufficient.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still see things going in the direction of the prediction I saw (and lost track of) a couple of years ago. Very soon, we will just have two devices -- our "in your face" device (phone, watch, etc) and our "arms length" device (tablet). General purpose computers will go back to where they originated -- full time content creators, artists, programmers, and hobbyists.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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