Software, service and why neither will win

There is a lot of talk going on how all software will become happy online cloud and computers will only be cheap terminal to that. Cute but unrealistic.

Foundations that define desktop software and online services are so different they effectively ensure that consolidation is impossible. But what it will be like if not happy uniform do-all-you-want thingy?


Modern hardware is wicked fast. People without decade of computing history in memory probably can’t even grasp how freaking fast it became comparing to back then.

Naturally manufacturers struggle (as always) to ensure us that latest video card is absolutely necessary to play latest video game and run Vista. Fortunately many arguments are so fake that with computing spreading wide more and more people ask “Why bother?”.

  • first (decent) desktop I owned cost $800 and lasted three years;
  • when it died I spent ~$500 on replacement parts, it became way faster and lasted three years;
  • when it died I spent ~$250 on replacement parts, it became way faster and I hope will last me another three years.

See the pattern? I already have pleasant expectations on what will hundred bucks buy me in 2012.

All that hardware (even low-end in manufacturers illusions bubble) allows software to do amazing things. And very very fast. As long as you stay inside computer. Copying large file on flash drive creates a pause already. Sending large file to a server on other side of globe is anything but fast.

There will be plenty of network-oriented devices in next few years (netbooks are first sign). But even on slowest and crappiest of those – local software will still be faster than sending data away.


Desktop computer is desktop. It is of considerable size, hums and is not transportable without a good reason. I had even joined ranks of notebook owners but even light version couldn’t convince me to drag such chunk of electronics around on daily basis.

But network has thousand faces. As long as you use network for a medium – task can be adapted to any network-capable device and those leap far out of regular computer comfort zone.

No computer with me but fast access to files with Dropbox or personal server, no desktop turned on but check my mail on mobile phone or N810 tablet.

Convenience cannot beat speed but can complement it in so many ways.


Don’t trust in promises of supercomputing at home, don’t trust in moving everything to clouds. People who build your future computing experience will lie to you. Some because they believe in their cause, some because they don’t.

Trust in solutions proven by time, yet useful enough to not retire by age. That is where real value resides.

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  • Donace | TheNexus #

    That is ofc a a valid argument. Though I feel that the convenience granted by online applications, i.e. accessibility, you cant 'lose' the cd or scratch it. You cant 'misplace' a cdkey or have to worry about downloading and installing the latest updates and you dont have to worry about backing up. THAT is what I feel are the key driving points for online software clouds and as it will be all handled server side the demand for greater and better hardware end user side will decrease meaning that it would more accessible to the masses due to the even lower entry cost. (i'm thinking it will be all hunky dory to use a $100 notebook to run it all once this tech has matured). The hardware manufacturers would not loose out as there will always be a demand for the greater / bigger better version of their hardware by the distribution companies who would readably pick up the new hardware at the higher prices as selling to commercial entity is more profitable in the long run anyway. The readiness and cash reserves available are more promising then just the 'elite' who at the moment buy the top range as opposed to in the 'deemed future' where, as mentioned these providers will be a greater marketshare and in turn vastly more profitable. Thats my view any way...Bring on the clouds and fantastic end user interfaces!
  • Rarst #

    @Donace Who said that software has to follow CD model? :) How about software that would spread through your house from PCs to microwave in the kitchen? Split itself into modules and duplicate to ensure integrity? Server side is nice until it hits you with crappy browsers compatibility and ridiculous bill for mobile Internet. Yes, hardware will become cheaper but not because it is cloud-driven but because excessive computing power will no longer make sense. My new processor is top of mid class (E5300) and I see it going to low clock while playing HD video which is considered hottest resource hungry task now (in consumer sector). I can't even imagine what would computing be like if instead of making bigger and badder focus was on making smaller and cheaper. I think big names sensed that flow is changing - so much rapid interest in system-on-a-chip, green, low power consumption, etc. Cloud will emerge but I don't think it will be everything (at least not for decade or two). It will be more like module to the software, additional vector to tie hardware separated physically into local smart home type systems. PS I love when someone responds to my thought dumps. Makes my day tiny bit better. Keep comments coming, people. :)