I’m guess there is a high chance you might be reading this on a work computer, Am I right ?
And chances are, that computer – and its word processor, spreadsheet, and browser – pretty startlingly resembles its ancestor way back in 1995.
Yes, Clippy, Microsoft Office 1997’s celebrity paperclip, is gone. Things are quicker too, with more storage. Still, the similarity to two decades ago is uncanny.
Take someone from 1995, deposit them in front of today’s keyboard, and they could pretty much get on with it.
A minor letdown, when you ponder how far we’ve come since 1975. But as we grow used to more mobility and to bringing along our own devices, might the stodgy workplace computer (even the stodgy home desktop) at last totter on the pinnacle of change?
Two-in-one tablets like the Surface 3, with its ultra-thin keyboard cover, finally resemble substitutes for notebooks. Microsoft touts its Windows 10, due in a few months, as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Windows, geared to interface with tablets and smartphones running other operating systems.
With developments in consumer electronics, it is now common for people to own better devices than those at work, this has been the case for me in my 16 years as and employee in IT.”Sandboxing” work and personal data in different compartments is removing some security worries, and thus making data available to everyone and as such we all tend to work long days. The end of email might be on the cards, too – its formal, asynchronous, spammy nature grating businesses who would rather use something nearer Facebook. Businesses are sending “upwards of 108 billion emails a day and people just can’t keep up,” says IBM’s general manager of enterprise social solutions in a interview with the IT Press.
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Death of the desktop?
For me the desktop won’t exist, the physical PC – why would it? discussing this with customer and friends in networking events, you certainly wouldn’t design it from scratch, now.
For most of you your work and data already follow you on the cloud. Cloud applications are demonstrably cheaper to run, too.
And your computer processing speed may be overkill for 90% of your tasks, while woefully insufficient for the remainder. Most “desktop apps” now site on the cloud or shared service like citrix, making your desktop more like thin clients, more like terminals, perhaps responding to a user’s biometric log-in, which can draw on appropriate amounts of processing power, and customised settings, both stored elsewhere.
“What’s the point of having this box that sucks and creates dust, its aged before it runs off the production line, and is from a perspective of computer power, heating, cooling, storage, and everything else about it, just an inefficient clunky box?” For collaborative environments, you could probably begin with a large video wall or multi-touch whiteboard. In 2012, Microsoft acquired Perceptive Pixel, a start-up specialising in multi-touch interfaces. This January it announced Surface Hub, a combination videoconferencing system and cloud-enabled whiteboard. The Equil Smartmarker takes a different approach, using an ordinary dry-erase marker, equipped with a bluetooth holder to transmit your scribbles. Better speech recognition, like Dragon Naturally Speaking or Microsoft’s neural-net system MAVIS, could figure heavily in the future work computer, too, transcribing conversations and filing them away for future reference. And to knit together teams in different bits of the world, some offices have installed a video wall down one end, with a FaceTime or Skype connection.
As costs come down, this becomes easier to do.
Not a cloud in sight
Small and medium enterprises, and sectors like the media, have been the fastest adopters of the cloud, but with corporations in more traditional sectors, there are more likely to be legacy systems, even dating to the 1950s and 1960s complete with green screens. Its fair to say these large corporate have who haven’t truely ventured beyond a word processor and web browser, are more likely too have workers that will be deeply frustrated with their desktop experience. There are still so many corporations that are struggling with the cloud full stop, be security, deployment or investment cost. The Snowden Report disclosed a widespread government hacking only added to many large corporations’ paranoia about information security. Meanwhile we all bring into work expectations for intuitive, functional applications and websites, from dealing with Uber, Amazon, and eBay.
One result has been Bring Your Own App (BYOA). Generation Y and millennials, when they don’t like what they find in the workplace, simply source something off the internet and share it with colleagues. This is great from when getting 100% efficiency from your staffing resource, but involves some expensive rule setting to ensure everyone can still access and read the data.