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Personal computing as seen from 2016

Written by Alain Sanguinetti no comments
We are still in the beginning of the year and it's time for me to make my guesses for the coming year and more. Thin clients, security and personal clouds!

The new paradigm : consistency

Many users now have smartphones, personal computers, cloud-based services. Some even have home computers, car computers, smart TV and more.

A widely used term until now is "convergence", I think it would be more relevant to talk about "consistency" to emphasize that more than a common interface with the same buttons on all devices, users expect the same access to information and data on all devices.

This means that OS providers do not have to create several versions of the same OS that could run on several devices but instead to think about how to create channels and services to application developers to enable them to share data and information easily on all devices of a user or of a group of user. Maybe something in the form a distributed meta-os à la ROS2? ROS2 is the new version of a commonly used operating system for robots. This new version is planned to share data and information across many nodes of a network constituting a robotized environment. As such it can be some inspiration for the companies trying to build a tool to provide a unified interface across devices.

More importantly, this means that thin clients will rise as well as personal cloud and security issues.

Thin clients

This part is nourished by the strategy of Toshiba as explained in this article of itespresso.fr: http://www.itespresso.fr/pc-toshiba-france-quel-avenir-angle-btob-119336.html

I define thin clients as small and portable computers that do not have extensive computing power but are rather designed to connect to a network.

Hopefully the arrival of durable laptops

As the shares of thin clients will grow, people will pay more and more attention to the useability and reliability of their equipment. They want access to the web, quickly, everywhere. The range of computers narrows to a common platform that suits most users with some options. Hopefully this is the end of cheap computers packed with bloatware that last one year.

Chromebooks as an example of thin clients

I think the latest chromebooks, especially the Dell 13, whose appearance is not that of the pictures on their website, is a good example of the characteristics that we could expect from a thin client.

  • SSD
  • Core i3
  • Backlight keyboard
  • Thin

I would also add (as on the Google Pixel):

  • 5:4 screen
  • USB-C connectors
    • This is on the hardware side. On the software side, I would say that Chrome OS needs to converge to Android. I think that the ability of running Android apps on a Chrome OS device could improve the useability for professional users that use terminals for example.

      How this convergence should happen technically is apparently under discussion in Google Labs. If I may suggest, what about running those apps in a virtualized environment in Chrome OS? Also I would like to suggest that Chrome OS should be ported to phone and integrate Android App rather than the opposite. Android is already getting old and it seems to be too versatile and with too many diverse versions for most of users.

      On the Free and Open-Source Software front, I recommend a minimal ArchLinux installation, with the Gnome Desktop that now provides WebApps integration and with virtual machines for running specialized configurations of Linux without overloading the core installation.

      The rise of thin clients that relies on an internet connection means a bigger exposure to threats.


      Forget about Windows10

      Microsoft has this habit of breaking compatibility between versions of its operating system. Apart from a contempt for the clients, it also shows that the underlying components are not mature versions but each time different versions with bugs and flaws and security issues.

      Also, the growing segmentation of the market with users running different OSs will mean that the investment from security labs will be spread across many devices and this means that your antivirus will be less efficient.

      Ultra-thin clients?

      2016 might be the year where a company announces a ultra-thin client. I would define it as a highly portable laptop that has a read-only OS stored on a microSD card and no persistent storage. At each boot, the OS would be freshly loaded, pure of any viruses.

      Linux-based, security-focused OS?

      2016 may also be the year where linux-based OS will come into light for widespread use. QubeOS is a nice shot at taking the personal operating system to the next security level. QubeOS is running a linux based distribution and runs applications in several virtualized environments. Maybe more companies will follow and present their own vision of a secure OS.

      Users may also want to keep their data stored on their own devices. This may trigger a rise of personal clouds.

      Personal clouds

      There is always a device running in our homes

      It is very easy for everyone to notice that most of the time we have at least one device in our homes that is connected, maybe in idle state. A TV, a set-top box, a fridge, a computer, a video game console, etc.

      One of them could also be a personal server running a cloud service.

      A winning combo

      To produce a personal cloud computer to install in our house, I would be thrilled to see Qarnot join forces with the people at Lima and an Internet Access Provider to create a heater that would be the personal cloud of a home! Maybe even with Nvidia for a personal-cloud-based gaming experience.


      Some people say that the personal computer market is getting smaller and smaller. I say the frontiers are moving and it is definitively not getting less exciting!

      Canonical's Ubuntu OS can play a big role in this since it has version of his OS for cloud servers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and even drones already.

      All that have been said here for private personal computing can probably be applied at a larger scale for businesses.

      I didn't talk about smart devices because I think that voice control and ultimately mind control will be the most common interface to our mobile devices and personal network.

      I would define this personal network as the combination of personal computing devices and home network. More on this later.

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