phone vs. tablet vs. laptop vs. desktop vs. server

It seems that Microsoft’s all-in-one strategy on support for different devices is still progressing. Windows 8 will have interfaces for both the desktop and touchscreen devices. This is akin to how Windows Media Center works. This model must have an unusual level of attraction to Microsoft due to the large base of existing applications, but it makes assumption that you’d want to use all the applications on all the devices, if only you could — that may turn out not to be right.

Microsoft has for years tried to get into mobile devices. Here you see Bill Gates really uncomfortable with the notion that Apple has succeeded more than Microsoft in this space. He is not wrong, since for a time Windows phones and tablets were the only ones out there, while Apple’s Newton was forgotten memory. Those devices either used a slightly modified Windows OS or one that copied all of its metaphors. The latest Windows phones are an exception, but with Windows 8, it will no longer be. It cannot be disputed that there are important applications that do not exist on mobile devices (currently), and therefore mobile devices are not complete (currently). So people argue that mobile devices will be full-fledged computers or desktops will not die. The idea of a dual interface seems to be aimed in this direction. However, a third possibility exists. Applications, after all, merely solve real life problems. They are not themselves holy. If there were a different way of accomplishing the same things, the applications could be replaced. One could argue that data is the rather more holy object. Back to this later.
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kinect and smart input devices

The Kinect hardware seems to be in high demand at the moment, perhaps for a good reason. Smart input devices such as beamforming microphone arrays, vision-algorithmic 3d scanners, and the like are finally moving out of research labs. Given the right software, these can do quite sophisticated things… even an ordinary webcam can acquire 3d models, so these can only be better.

The nice thing about these input devices is that they don’t require anything special in terms of hardware — maybe a duplicity of some parts, but not expensive ones — all the smarts are in software. This can only mean two things: the devices will get smarter and smarter as time goes on, and, they will (soon) become standard parts of computers (and indeed, all devices), enabling a new field of naturally human-interactive applications. Definitely something to look forward to.

chrome os, wave, collaboration

Something in the news says Chrome OS got a demo today. I don’t even care, since I don’t think what’s being demonstrated — a glorified PDA with internet connection — is, by itself, very interesting. What’s important is what runs on it that can’t be run in another way or with as much ease. What might that be? It seems to me this “novel experience” (not necessarily novel technology) is in the roadmap of Google and other big companies — but only in pieces spread among them, with none of them seeming to have the entirety of it. And that is ridiculous…

So Google has the ideas. Microsoft has the delivery mechanism in the form of the installed base and the ready platform with the ability to propogate via a simple update. Apple has the hardware designs and marketing to get people to adopt. Yet, each is missing the critical pieces held by others. And so we stall in Year 2009 as each company tries to replicate some existing thing that another company is already good at.

(This very good article gives too much credit to Google, I believe. The situation is a lot more symmetrical and Google should not be elevated to a privileged position. The current Chrome OS for netbooks, I believe, is a clear misread of the market. People want a better phone, not a worse computer, and Google will likely fail with this if they make the latter without the former (Android?) catching on first. I think the “PC companies” are not that far behind either. It’s much harder for inexperienced Google to make a good cloud client than for say Microsoft to deliver good cloud integration. In some sense, Microsoft’s lack of execution on this front is due to politics, i.e. lack of will-power to lose a cash cow until it is inevitable, not due to technical barriers.)
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IT security policy “research”

“Researchers find way to steal encrypted data,” screams this article in the New York Times.

Oh do they? But come… on…, what is this ridiculous demonstration? Okay, okay, it’s the IT Policy School over there, let’s cut them some slack. What they’ve come up with is a way to read seated DRAM under OS lock without specialized hardware, and if they said that, it would be fine.
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