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Future IT

Entry 1462, on 2012-11-16 at 21:58:06 (Rating 2, Computers)

Where is the world of computers going in the next few years? If I, or anyone else, knew that they could become quite rich as in investor, or maybe extremely well known as a future technology commentator. But the fact is that often experts are hardly better than any other person at predicting where technology trends will go and IT must be the most prominent example of this.

But despite what I said above I am going to offer a few observations on current trends and where I think they will lead. I guess I can check back on this blog in a few years and see how close I got to reality but until then my guess is as good as any other, and better than most!

The general trend will be for more people to use tablets and smart phones and for traditional computers to become less relevant. That is clear to most of us already so it's hardly a brilliant revelation. I think Android phones and tablets wil become the basic unit that most people will use, just like Windows is now on computers. Apple's iOS devices - the iPhone and iPad - will be the premium device just like the Mac is now in computers. And Microsoft won't be very relevant.

Microsoft seem to think they can create a device which is really a poorly designed laptop, add a few tablet-like features and call it a tablet or hybrid device. I don't think this approach works. The way people would use a Surface tablet to its strengths would be just like they would use a laptop: while seated at a desk, with a physical keyboard, in landscape mode, and avoiding touch features.

So why have a Microsoft tablet at all? Why not just buy a compact laptop? There is no reason at all but Microsoft are just so intent on maintaining their existing advantage that they can't move on. Well those who don't move on disappear and it's obvious this is already happening to Microsoft. They never have innovated, they've always been followers, but they have succeeded anyway because of historical factors. That won't happen again. Goodbye Microsoft. You won't be missed!

And Windows 8 hasn't exactly been an outrageous success. Sure there have been a lot of people switch to it but they are the people trapped in the old paradigm. That market is shrinking every year. Already there are many bad reviews of Windows 8 (after all it's just Windows 7 with some confusing coloured tiles thrown on top with no real thought to integrated design) plus a critical security flaw has already been patched and it was hacked the day it was released.

I admit I haven't used Windows 8 very much but I still have it on a virtual machine on my Mac laptop where it has been for a month before most of my PC using friends got it. When I did use it I just found it confusing and pointless.

What about Android? Again I have only used Android devices for short periods of time so I don't claim to be an expert. My conclusion, based on this short period of trial, would be that Android is quite good but it's nowhere near as intuitive, consistent, smooth, or trouble-free as iOS.

So Android is a bit like what Windows used to be: a fairly decent system for the majority of people who want something fairly cheap and who don't demand the ultimate in security, elegance, or reliability. That does sound quite condescending, doesn't it? Typical Apple fan-boy stuff. But I think I can defend that point.

There are many advantages to Android over iOS (just like there are advantages to Windows over OS X) but I don't think they outweigh the disadvantages. The advantages include that Android runs on a wide range of hardware, it runs on cheaper devices, it's more open, and it's more configurable. But those are the exact same points which are disadvantages because it means the Android system isn't as closely tied to the hardware so consistency, security, and reliability inevitably suffer, exactly the same situation as occurred with Windows (notice how I refer to Windows in the past tense, as if it just doesn't matter any more).

So in 5 years time here's where we'll be with IT: most people will use tablets and smartphones and most of those will run Android. Apple's devices will be a significant factor at the top end of the market. In computers Microsoft will still have the biggest share but Apple will make steady gains. Linux will be even less relevant on the desktop, but increasingly relevant in supercomputing and servers.

And new super-compact devices, such as phones with built-in projectors and devices which project an image directly onto the user's eye will begin to appear.

Everything will connect to the internet wirelessly: appliances, vehicles, everything. And the Internet will increase it's importance as the major source of information including books, TV, radio, and news.

None of the above is particularly outrageous but I am only predicting the future in 5 years. If I was thinking ahead 10 or more years instead I might be tempted to contemplate far more dramatic changes. But those are the ones which no one ever predicts so why should I try?

All I can say is that working in IT is great. There's always something new and interesting happening. Whatever happens it will be a wild ride!

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