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The iCloud and Another Cry of The Death of Windows

Apple has thrown its hat into the cloud “gold rush” ring and all of a sudden, we have started hearing the old but boring cries of the death of Windows. A lot of noise is being made about Steve Jobs’ statement that “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud”

Linux tried it, it did not work, Google has taken its shot, Apple has been at it for decades with no luck. And it actually abandoned that fight. It is 2011 and the world still runs on Microsoft Windows with a dose of UNIX/Linux helpings. The problem here is that people seem too fixated on the result of user access rather than the origin of such access. Yes, we have the cloud, yes, almost everyone has an isomething, but at the end of the day, many of us will still plug our ithingy into our computers to sync or do whatever, and we will still access that “cloud” with a “PC”. And the last time I checked, the “PC” was still overwhelmingly running Windows.

Many users will still need their desktops/laptops/netbooks/servers to access that “hub” of their digital life that resides in the “cloud”. So we now have folks who gloat that “our data is the computer” as if that data is just floating on it’s own out on the ether. The bad news for these “cloud as an independent existence” folks is that the data centers where that hold our digital life still run an operating system, and most run, you guessed it, Windows.

What these Apple worshipers who perpetually pray for the demise of Windows seem to forget or fail to understand is that not everyone is happy or willing to shell out $500-$800 for a piece of plastic shell from a manufacturer too greedy to even include a miserable $5 charger with their product. For those people, the iCloud will not kill Windows. Does anyone really believe the drivel that “Jobs is going to sacrifice the Macintosh in order to kill Windows. He isn’t beating Windows, he’s making Windows inconsequential”?

How is Apple’s spin on a concept that has been around for quite a while suddenly mean the making of Windows inconsequential? We said the same about Linux, did we not? About how the emergence of Linux was surely going to be the end of Windows? Wasn’t the ChromeOS going to banish Windows to irrelevance? The iPhone was going to destroy the Windows desktop;  and the iPad? Oh, Windows was surely going to be wiped out.

The predictors of the demise of Windows and proponents of cloud everything seem to be making the assumption that the world has low-cost Internet access, which it does not; that everyone has or cares about an iSomething, which is totally not true; that we all have fiber-optic pipes into our offices, and that our mobile devices have speed-of-light broadband always – wishful thinking at best, at least for now in the “developed” world, and definitely not any time soon in the “developing” world.

Even here in the U.S., we still have areas that are untouched by broadband and/or are heavily reliant on VSAT. I do not know how much productivity you would get from a 256 Kbps modem.

When Apple claims that with the iCloud there is “No syncing required. No management required. In fact, no anything required. iCloud does it all for you”, are we really to believe that?

From my reading on the announcement, the iCloud is no different from offerings from Microsoft’s Mesh (now Skydrive), Dropbox or several other syncing tools out there which allows you to access and manipulate files anywhere from anything that has an internet access. When you make changes offline, the folders are synchronized the next time you are online. The Mesh from Microsoft did this a long time ago, although on a limited level.

Apple’s idea of the cloud is a variant of the push  or publish/subscribe technology. A clearing house if you will, where the iCloud acts as a hub or repository for everything Apple- apps, music, video, calendar and “wirelessly pushes them out to all your devices”. This is merely a revival of an Apple v Microsoft rivalry about the PC a “hub of our digital life”. Just that now, Apple has replaced the PC with the iCloud.

The hope is that we will all move our data to the cloud, but that is not going to happen any time soon. It is like banking where a lot of people feel comfortable banking online and some prefer going to the bank and yet others prefer keeping their cash under their mattresses. In some cases, the cost of using the cloud may far outweigh the benefits especially in a highly regulated industry.

With the constant threat of privacy invasion and data breach, what are the odds that users would warm up to the idea of their data constantly streaming 24/7? As more cloud storage snafus are exposed, what effect will that have on the willingness of users and businesses to “trust” the cloud?

What we have here are two viewpoints about how users will access their data: Apple believes we are moving to the device as the central point of access and Microsoft still works on the premise that the “PC” will be with us for a while. One tends to cater more to consumers (home users) and the other leans heavily toward the business user. One has a target market of hipsters, the other caters more to the masses.

Plus, the biggest gloss-over of all by the “Windows is Doomed” crowd is that there are folks out there that just plain do not like Apple and will never use their product.

I have my issues with Microsoft but we should commend the effort the company has made in recent years to get its act together. So all this talk about “killing Windows” is becoming annoying.

I don’t think Windows is going anywhere soon in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. In addition, the “PC” is not going away anytime soon for the same reason many of us still pick up a book even though we have an eBook reader. There is so much you can do on a small screen, and you can have so much patience with pecking at a tiny keyboard, especially a virtual keyboard.

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