obarthelemy wrote:Looking around me, 90% of people could be happy with a nice nettop. Very few do anything but media consumption and social stuff. A bit of very light photo touch-ups.. and the most played games are Solitaire, Sudoku, Crosswords (or some such, Scrabble...). They do watch quite a few stupid PowerPoint joke presentations. I was using a nettop until I got into Civ5.
The issue is there's no OS to do that well: the mobile OSes are not very good in a desktop situation (right-click, multitasking, kb shortcuts...), the desktop OSes are either not available (MacOS, Windows), or not ready for noob consumption (Linux).
Also, there's no hardware. The Pi is not enough, the few more powerful ARM nettops are as, if not more, expensive than a second-hand netbook or desktop.
We need a big OEM to come out with a $100 arm nettop, with polished software and complete hardware. Apple already have it in the guise of the Apple TV, but they'd much rather sell expensive iMacs. Few others have the wherewithal to pull it off. I keep hoping for Asus to jump in, but they must have market surveys that conclude something I don't know ?
+1 some very good points there.
I think it's worth appreciating that it's not just about the sum of the hardware parts. The software interface and the appearance / feel / performance of the applications that run in it are key. A particular interface has to be smart enough to allow it's users to swap between desktop <-> mobile without feeling lost, but at the same time the interface itself and the apps have to be tailored to the particular strengths and shortcomings of each platform. Apple have done a reasonable job, but they have absolute control over the hardware and wield the blue pencil over the apps too. Some suggest that it might not be long before all 3rd party Apple software has to be moved via Apple's store, with Gatekeeper being the first step towards getting independent developers to "pay to play".
http://prod.lists.apple.com/archives/co ... 00029.html
Android is an interesting development, but how flexible will it be, considering it's little more than a portal to another app store?
The Windows 8 customer preview caused more than a little derision amongst desktop users. Forcing a mobile-style start screen on users with non-touch 22" monitors defies all explanation and completely misses the point of building an O.S. with smart portability.
Linux has much customisation potential, of course, but on a consumer level it has to work straight out of the box
and so will have to be built on a per device model basis. Consumers will presumably wish to have consistency between their devices, rather than have to learn the quirks of different distros. Creators of applications would probably rather this were the case too. Developing a skinny operating system will cost money if it's to be done in a timely manner (commercial hardware manufacturers won't wait), so partnerships with vendors are a possibility. This raises the likelihood of proprietary technology, rather than a one-size-fits-all-but-not-very-well driver model. We're dealing with limited hardware resources here, after all.
Let's remember that even the best operating system is worth nothing without applications to run in it. A computer is just a box for doing work, after all. Intuitive user interfaces have rarely been a strong point of Linux applications and the rise of low power devices - especially those that break free from the desktop environment - will require to be designed
, rather than just use the command line as a crutch. Developers of smart applications might want paying and not give away their intellectual property. How better to shift some units than to tie in with an operating system vendor that has some kind of online store...
Interesting times, as fellow forumite Jim Manley would say!
I think it's worth considering the actual desktop environment for a moment. Many people have a static workspace at home with their pc, printer, scanner, paperwork, physical files etc. Why is this? Because it's productive! Doing the monthly accounts while perched on the sofa in front of the telly sounds attractive, but it gets nothing done. The physical desktop environment creates a mindset and allows stuff to get done - and for many of these tasks the proper keyboard, mouse and decent-sized screen is still king.
Of course the bulky static pc can be replaced with a laptop and many people have done this. But does create problems if the device needs to be shared and they still offer less bang for buck and are essentially non - upgradeable. A solution might be a computing hub and inexpensive satellite devices that can work standalone (with a kb and mouse if needed). One could argue that a slate sized device isn't really that
portable (and decent ones won't be cheap), so a practical solution might be e.g. the ability to dock a smartphone to a full sized monitor and kb that can call on a hub pc for extra heft.
All this stuff is entirely possible now of course, but I'm just suggesting that the physical desktop environment isn't quite dead yet. The computer user's average CPU requirement may drop due to technical developments, but the peak requirement for anyone into gaming or multimedia work will remain and personally I would rather see that overhead remain directly accessible to the user - the alternative is cloud computing and along that path lies the certainty of kissing goodbye to any control that we have over our data. With increasing environmental concerns (and the very real concern of the cost of domestic electricity) I think there's merit in the continuation of the beige box, but with smartly controlled parallel low power cores and user upgradeability to mitigate the obsolescence I see in mobile devices. Anything that costs e.g. $300 will have created a bunch of pollution somewhere and once those rare earths are gone, they're gone!