Two of the major drawbacks to a perfect cloud-based existence where the browser serves all your needs are speed of remote apps/services and UI flexibility. It just so happens, two news items have coalesced recently to help usher in the post-OS world. You see, while the tech pundits debate the idea of a post-PC world, companies like Google are going a step further and hoping to get rid of the operating system on the tablet, PC, smartphone and just about any other computing device you use.
HTML5 is one of the primary drivers of the flexible new UI allowing truly customizable media to be shown to users. An interesting demo found at http://www.allisnotlo.st shows how you can merge written words with interactive video to create custom-inter-videos or CIVs (disclosure – I just made this word and acronym up). Michael Humphrey at Forbes has more on the latest HTML5-based music-videos which he equates to new-age MTV.
So now that we have dealt with the UI issue and as the HTML5 standards settle and browsers get better, we can rest assured web apps will look better than they have in the past.
This brings us to speed. Google announced today it will be caching websites for a fee – basically compressing them in a manner which speeds them up - potentially by 60%. Is this another step towards Google becoming a full-fledged CDN? Perhaps. But for a typical company what this means is they can have a really inexpensive webserver and let Google cache it and deal with serving pages to the world.
So the seeds of speed and web UI enhancement are being sewn and two major stumbling blocks to OS elimination are slowly vanishing. The question now is in a new world where an OS is less important, how will Google, Apple, RIM, Microsoft and others differentiate their device offerings? Moreover, since Android is essentially free, does this mean Microsoft’s OS will have to be free as well? Also, does the app store war go away as HTML5 takes hold and every program runs on most-every device? Doesn’t this also mean anyone who can place a functioning web browser on a gadget can compete for mobile market share?
As of now we have more questions about the future than answers but we know for sure that cloud—based services are the future and the local operating system continues to matter less.