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.
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.