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Hardware + Software in the Cloud = The $99 Computer

Posted in Computer Advice
at 2011.06.15

We’re a mobile society.  We like things now, the way we want them, without deviation.  Cloud computing, at least in the beginning, will force all users to retrain themselves in how they use computer hardware and software in terms of flexibility and mobility.  As you might be noticing throughout our series, cloud computing restricts the digital experience in one sense and expands it in another.  The shifts that cloud computing bring will not only be in the concepts of online security in the cloud but the concepts of hardware and software will shift as well.

The Advent of Consumable Hardware

Cloud computing will spell the end of traditional hardware setups as more and more of the required computing power is done offsite rather than through the local computer.  Existing cloud-based systems are already decreasing the dependence of the local computer by allowing you to access and view everything from any device, whether it’s from your iPhone or a friend’s computer.  I’ve talked about Google’s Chromebook in the past and this is only the beginning of a new trend – one that threatens traditional business models…  Computers will become more consumable and will either be offered at cheap prices to encourage the use of a particular cloud based system or will be offered at a subscription rate and you will pay as you go.  Since cloud computing decreases the dependence of the local machine, it is easy for me to see a computer system existing soon that can be replaced for $99 rather than warranting necessary repair or upgrade.  This advance will change how companies like LaptopMD operate.  As we have for the past 15 years, though, we will continue to adapt to the changing technology market and continue to bring our expertise to bear.  Technology service companies will always be needed and small business support will be a growing market in the coming years for us as companies look to outsource their hardware needs (even though they’ll be going to the cloud).

Is Your Operating System Available When You Need It?

Remember our recent advice about making backups of installation disks that you might not have access to?  Now is a good time to start heeding that advice.  Apple has slowly been introducing their ‘cloud-based’ Mac App Store on recent versions of OS X and they have plans to release their new operating system, OS X Lion, over this new system.  Offline access to backup disks will become an ever present annoyance to users but most particularly I anticipate that business professionals and travelers will be most inconvenienced by this cloud-based enhancement.  Many times these types of individuals come into our shop who don’t have access to their software and we must work with them to provide alternative means to get their software up and running.  Without software disks, everyone’s lives will be made slightly harder as internet access will be required to download software and physical copies will be harder to come by.

Offline Access

As with software, offline access and ease of use is one last chief concern of mine regarding cloud computing.  Right now, standards for cloud computing are just emerging and few web applications allow for both online and offline use.  As anyone who rides a New York City subway can attest, it can be very inconvenient not having access to your email and other online tools but imagine having moments when you can’t access anything on your laptop including word processing and other essential tools.  Full offline standards are being developed with HTML 5 but it will be some time before they are fully implemented and become commonplace across the web.  As with any standard, it will take time to see seamless features across all of the browsers but, even then, each browser will choose to implement what is in their best interests rather than in the interests of the end user.  Offline access to programs will be essential in the cloud computing world for commuters and other ‘on the go’ individuals.

Be sure to check out our first posts on the advent of cloud computing and security in the cloud.

Add to the discussion: What advances do you see coming in the future in terms of online computing?