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Why Microsoft Should Fear Bandwidth 605

Mike writes "Microsoft should fear increasing bandwidth to the consumer more than any other single factor as a threat to their monopoly. The average user has no desire to be the sysadmin of their machine(s), and telcos and cable companies would be glad to take this task from them -- for a nominal fee, of course, as application service providers. The PC as we know it probably only has a decade or so left."
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Why Microsoft Should Fear Bandwidth

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  • by rednip ( 186217 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:12PM (#11238280) Journal
    when cars fly.
    • by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:30PM (#11238390) Homepage
      Exactly, people complain about XP's startup time as it is, now they want to host all their apps and the OS on a network drive at the ISP's head end? Why does this make more sense? Users can simply still run a virus that will just fsck their files over the network drive.
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:44PM (#11238453)
        Well, it makes sense from the standpoint that the user won't have to be bothered with annoying maintenance tasks like backing up their data. Given how few Windows users even have a firewall or any kind of malware scanning, having the ISP handle that would probably be an improvement (of course, if those same people ran a more secure operating system it would be an even bigger improvement.) That said, I wouldn't want all of my confidential documentation and source code residing on someone else's equipment. Bad idea. For that matter, I don't like the idea of anyone keeping track of what applications I run and for what purpose. Not to mention that with a National Security Letter government agents could access all of your files without having to break into your house where you would at least have the possibility of "accidentally" shooting one of them. Forget it. I'll keep my data to myself, thank you very much.

        Ultimately it would just be another way for an ISP to justify sucking more money from each user in monthly fees.
        • The big get bigger (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:53PM (#11238501)
          A real life comparison could be easily made here.

          50 years ago when car's were expensive and walking was the norm downtown's thrived. After cars became cheaper and roads led everywhere the malls tore into the business the downtown core had thrived on. We now see big box stores killing downtown's everywhere.

          Microsoft is as 'big box' as they come.......while there is no doubt that strategies behind operating systems and the internet will meld together I don't see it as a reason to see Microsoft to not be a prominent part of that.
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

            Microsoft is as 'big box' as they come.......while there is no doubt that strategies behind operating systems and the internet will meld together I don't see it as a reason to see Microsoft to not be a prominent part of that.

            Yeah but if the article is correct (disclaimer: I disagree with it; but for the sake of debate...) would Microsoft still be as heavy of a hitter as they are today? How much of their revenue comes from new OS sales again? In this area they seem to be a victim of their own success.

        • With Windows XX out of the picture, the only reason for backups at all will be catastrophic disk failure. Hard drives are so cheap, that I'm wondering why Gateway and Dell aren't offering machines with 2 identical drives, and mirroring on by default. One dies, customer gets a new one, and it rebuilds the mirror. No backup.

          As a ISP helpdesk technician, I personally don't want to support some webtv bullshit. And the people that run the company I work for, make it policy to support as little as possible. When
          • by Nataku564 ( 668188 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:25PM (#11238699)
            A) It's not normal for your computer's configuration to get screwed up unless you're messing with it.

            About the only configuration issue I have with windows is when it randomly decides my keyboard repeat rate should be set to slowest, but I only notice this when I am flipping around my KVM a lot.

            B) It's not normal to have to reinstall the OS every 3 weeks.

            You are right, it is not ... whoever is doing this is obviously not meant to ever use anything even remotely involving computers. At most I would expect someone to try reinstalling windows every year, and thats only if they have installed so much stuff as to simply not want to deal with removing it all. I have a win2k install going for about 3 years now, and a winXP that I have just done a reinstall on ( to repartition ) that was good for 2 years previous. I dont know what all these people are doing to their computers, even my parents generally dont fubar up theirs until a year or two down the line.

            C) It's not normal to have to upgrade to the latest version of the OS just for the machine to behave normally (Note: though this isn't true if you want the latest security patches).

            Define "behave normally". If by that you mean being safe from viruses and what not, then this is definitly the case, no matter what OS you are running. I can't recall any of microsoft's updates ever altering the functionality of windows ( other than some major SP things, like the firewall etc ) - which updates are you speaking of?

            D) If you use an OS other than windows, all the previous problems disappear.

            This is analagous to saying if someone who can't take care of a car, uses a different brand, they will have better luck. While true, the other brand may very well have fewer issues needing repair, it still will break down, and the person will still find a way to fubar it.

            One last thing. No one has ***ever*** called up, claiming that their playstation 2 or gamecube is "messed up" and can no longer connect. You'd think that would click in their brains...

            What should click in their brains? That they should only allow users to operate on one piece of proprietary software/hardware, and never ever allow them to upgrade? I'll set up a windows box for you, and i'm betting if I dont ever let you change it in any way - it will still be working just fine many years down the line. Just a hunch.
              • What should click in their brains? That they should only allow users to operate on one piece of proprietary software/hardware, and never ever allow them to upgrade? I'll set up a windows box for you, and i'm betting if I dont ever let you change it in any way - it will still be working just fine many years down the line. Just a hunch.

              You're dead on there, and this is why Windows problems are more on consumer machines than well run business ones. I worked for one department within a university a few ye

          • I agree. The reason that consoles don't screw up is because a. their code runs from read-only media and b. the quality control standards that game developers are under are just incredible. My brother works for a large independent game development house, and let me tell you, Microsoft would do well to apply some similar QC standards to Windows. If they did, complaints about Windows reliability would go away. Put it this way, when you release a game program on a cartridge or CD, there is really no effective
          • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:38PM (#11238752)

            With Windows XX out of the picture, the only reason for backups at all will be catastrophic disk failure. Hard drives are so cheap, that I'm wondering why Gateway and Dell aren't offering machines with 2 identical drives, and mirroring on by default. One dies, customer gets a new one, and it rebuilds the mirror. No backup.

            And accidental deletions, children playing with the computer, physical damage to the computer, theft, intrusion, software failure (happens on non MS operating systems as well). Windows and Disk failures arent the only reason for backups....

            What Microsoft should fear the most, is people waking up and realizing that: A) It's not normal for your computer's configuration to get screwed up unless you're messing with it. B) It's not normal to have to reinstall the OS every 3 weeks. C) It's not normal to have to upgrade to the latest version of the OS just for the machine to behave normally (Note: though this isn't true if you want the latest security patches). D) If you use an OS other than windows, all the previous problems disappear.

            A) Funnily enough, non of my windows installations screw up their configurations randomly. And Ive been responsable for 150 systems.
            B) My WinXP install is now 8 months old, after a complete new system install. My dads Win98 install dates from 1999, still completely usable. None of my friends need to reinstall every 3 weeks, and those 150 systems i mentioned before dont need it either.
            C) So every Linux Distribution version is a new features version, fixes absolutely nothing in the previous version? Every version of KDE doesnt include bugfixes? Get real.
            D) Yes, Windows has issues, but what you are spreading is just FUD.
    • by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:57PM (#11238519)
      I believe that some company will give away the hardware so people will sign up for their service just like cell phones today. The people who do will not have to worry about the hardware as it will be like cable box today if it breaks it will be replaced for free. They will have access to billions of dollars of software and video for a monthly fee. The computer will have zero maintenance and zero worry so it will attract a huge amount of people.
    • by Bloodlent ( 797259 ) <.iron_chef_sanji. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:24PM (#11238693)
      This is Slashdot, dude. The proper term is "When Duke Nukem Forever is released".
  • I call shens (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:15PM (#11238296)
    We've heard this how many times so far? The ideas been spinning around since the early 90s at least.

    Repeat after me. As long as there are laptop computers there will be a strong demand for locally-installed software.

    Repeat after me #2. Laptop sales have been steadily rising and will probably continue to do so.
    • With the right DRM (like with that Palladium/TCPA/NGSCB-thingy) and the right caching (as the article mentions) an offline solution will be possible. So I don't think portables will be the showstoppers. However I agree that my car should loose it's wheels before this actually threats Microsoft.
      • Re:I call shens (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:42PM (#11238772) Homepage Journal
        I dont think what computers are able to do has any bearing on this.

        People don't recognize 'intellectual property' people recognize tangible property. For instance, I won't be playing anymore Steam games because I don't like the life of my product to be tied to any company. I can pull duke nukem off the shelf now, install and play, who knows where 3d realms is these days.

        Its like not being able to record a song but only listen to it from the radio. People will perceve this as a huge step backwards and I don't think they will accept it at all. Now large companies will probably not be so opposed.
        • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Interesting)

          "People don't recognize 'intellectual property' people recognize tangible property."


          I think that theres, perhaps, a conflation between 'a property of something' as in 'a property of the sun is that it is bright' and property of something as in 'these trousers are my property'

          So an idea, or a computer program has the intellectual property that it came out of someones head.

          But that doesn't mean that its their property.

          The above may or may not fly, its just a thought, but heres the killer of IP
          • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Insightful)

            by swillden ( 191260 ) *

            Intellectual property is one of the great lies of our time. People instinctively find it a flawed concept.

            That is because people don't understand it. And the reason that people don't understand it is because it's been twisted massively by media companies bending it to preserve and build their revenues. The attitude you've expressed is flat, dead wrong, but what's really interesting is that Walt Disney Corp. is the company who taught it to you. That's not what they *intended* to teach you, but the les

    • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alci12 ( 698263 )
      The continuing increase in WIFI speeds makes your dictinction between desktop/laptop moot.
      • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SilentChris ( 452960 )
        You know, I was toying around with that idea. Central windowing server (Windows, Linux, take your pick) in the basement. Tablets to roam around the house, connecting through Terminal Services and the like. WiFi is fast enough that this would work, and since most of these setups allow multiple terminal service sessions, every tablet would have identical screens and access to the same information.
      • Re:I call shens (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:16PM (#11238640) Homepage Journal
        I really don't understand what laptops or desktops have to do with either.

        Wireless is a half-duplex shared medium. Wireless speeds aren't anywhere near wired speeds. If you want to mention wireless 108Mbps, remember that the actual link speed is about 40Mbps at best. If you havehousemates sharing a cable modem account and not sharing files between each other, "g" is fine. Otherwise, if you are moving a lot of files between computers, you'll want to wire them up if you can.
        • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
          When you assume that this is working, you don't need to assume that all data ends up on the user terminal. So large downloads, e.g., won't take wireless connection speed. They'll remain resident on the main system. The terminal connection only needs to support, say, an X-Window connection. Nothing else. This MIGHT be managable over a 9600 bps connection. (I've never tried.) If it wouldn't, then perhaps a more intelligent protocol is needed. At all events, only the changes need to be transmitted, so o
      • Re:I call shens (Score:4, Interesting)

        by danila ( 69889 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:40PM (#11238761) Homepage
        I don't think there is any sane user, who would be willing to accept that every time the WiFi LED on his laptop dims the laptop stops responding as well. Not to mention the fact this would place further tax the laptop battery.

        No, this is a silly idea even for desktops and it will never fly, because local computing can be made just as good as remote and it doesn't have so many limitations.
      • Re:I call shens (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nurgled ( 63197 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:51PM (#11238808)

        That doesn't help you when you are away from a source of connectivity. Although more and more places are getting wireless access points, many charge you for the access and those that don't often have big restrictions on usage.

        There's not much point in lugging around a big, plastic wedge if you can only use it in places where there are desktop PCs.

      • WRONG. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by abb3w ( 696381 )
        First, as an earlier respondent noted [slashdot.org], bandwidth is shared between all users. Since laptop users are increasing [slashdot.org], that 54Mbps peak (which realistically is more like 40) gets divided up more ways. Working IT at a university, I've already heard complaints that the wireless in the classrooms seems to be getting slower. This is because more and more students are connecting. So, what was once 11Mbps for just one user is now 54Mbps for a dozen.

        Second, while wireless speeds do continue to increase, there are hard

    • by tentimestwenty ( 693290 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:28PM (#11238377)
      I've heard people say things like this before... oh, you just wait, when somebody invents a fantabulous operating system and gives it away for free, THEN Microsoft will come tumbling down. Just another one of those craaaazy-talkers.
    • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      More importantly, people want to have control of their data.

      Think of the following scenarious:
      1) Company A hosts all the programs and data for Person B. Person B writes a document in Word 95. Now Company A upgrades Word to Word 2007. Person's B's documents look all wonky and he has to learn how to deal with a whole new word processor with dozens of new features that he never wanted. If Person B had his documents on his computer, he (or this "computer guy" he knows) could have upgraded MS Word when he damme
    • > We've heard this how many times so far? The
      > ideas been spinning around since the early 90s
      > at least.
      > Repeat after me. As long as there are laptop
      > computers there will be a strong demand for
      > locally-installed software.
      > Repeat after me #2. Laptop sales have been
      > steadily rising and will probably continue to
      > do so.

      This many not be what people mean when they
      talk about "application service providers", but
      I think of the administration of my machines as
      being mostly out
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I just love these retards that think they know what the future holds, and they're usually so impractical that it's funny.

      Bandwidth isn't going to hurt (or help) Microsoft. They don't provide killer apps. Microsoft's downfall is going to be their own doing. Lack of innovation will stifle sales. MS will try to buy companies with new "killer apps", but that might backfire. Killer apps are going to be helped by an increase in bandwidth. Although MS will jump on the bandwagon and try to steer it as soon
    • Re:I call shens (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 ( 162816 )

      The ideas been spinning around since the early 90s at least.

      A lot longer than that. The concept of a simple "information appliance" has been around at least as long as the PC. That's the concept that's actually right for most people, and if computer development were driven solely by consumer needs that's what we'd already have.

      But new technology isn't created solely by the market -- that just gives a massive economic incentive. The actual creation of new products is done by all those geeks and hackers w

    • How dare you question some ranting post full of speculation and zero facts from a site called everybodyiscrazy.com?

  • pay up sucka (Score:5, Insightful)

    by +Addict-09+ ( 239664 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:15PM (#11238297)
    are you kidding? Microsoft would love this (and I think they've already tried). Just think, instead of all those pirated copies of Office, you would have to actually pay to use it from your "application provider"
  • No one has the right to run my computer NO ONE I SAY. If centurytel came down here to my house and said that if you are going to use our DSL then you have to let us manage your computer. Well there phone box would be removed from this house via shot-gun.
    • by ThisNukes4u ( 752508 ) <tcoppi AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:25PM (#11238364) Homepage
      Thats all fine and good, but from what I gathered, the article is saying that regular consumers who have no idea how to repair or maintain their computers will snatch the oppourtunity to have thier computer managed for them. They don't care if the software is not on their machine, so long as it works correctly. The same is true of most people's attitude toward government: as long as it works OK and it is semi-tolerable, they don't give a damn about improving the situation or worse, don't care about the government and how it runs at all when it is probably one of the strongest influences on their life.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Live in one of the red states, don't we? ;)
  • Ho hum. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:17PM (#11238308) Homepage Journal
    Looks like the "the network is the computer" argument again. We're already past the twenty year mark of that prediction, I believe.
    • Re:Ho hum. (Score:5, Informative)

      by dilbertspace ( 845561 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:23PM (#11238347)
      I'm the author the article. The "network is the computer" was a false start because the bandwidth was not there. Now, it is getting to be there -- and with spam, spyware, adware, phishing schemes, increasing viruses, the average user is way out of his league in dealing with the challenges of modern computing. Long past are the days where one could leave a Windows 98 machine (or Windows 2000, or XP, take your pick) connected to the Internet for days at a time, unpatched. My point, which I should have made clearer, is that the "network-is-the-computer" approach didn't work because the bandwidth simply was not there. Now it is getting to be. With spyware, adware, malware of all stripes dominating the news, and the average user's computer, people will be much more inclined now and in the near future to use an ASP model. I hope that clarifies my arguments a bit.
      • A little. To be honest, I found your article to describe at least a possible future accurately. As usual, it was the slashdot spin that was out to lunch: "The PC as we know it probably only has a decade or so left." There will always be a significant market for real PCs. However, there will certainly be more people using network applications in the future.
      • Re:Ho hum. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:20PM (#11238670)
        The "network is the computer" was a false start because the bandwidth was not there.

        The bandwidth was there on corporate networks, yet the decentrailazation of corporate computing happened anyway.

        The fact of the matter is that companies will never trust their business critical processes to an application service provider. That's why the major ASPs failed in the '90s even while corporations *did* have the bandwidth to use their services. This means that it's never going to take of in the consumer market because the business market is where the money is. Consumer software is the drippings of the business computing market with some eye candy added. If the base technology can't catch on in the corporate world, it will never end up on the home desktop.

        Lots of really smart people have made the prediction you are making many times in the past and have been wrong, not because they didn't have a solid technical vision, but because they forgot the MBAs rule the world, not the engineers.
      • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:42PM (#11238767) Homepage Journal
        I'm the author the article. The "network is the computer" was a false start because the bandwidth was not there.

        No, it was a false start because it was a dumb idea.

        People don't want to pay subscription fees for software. If they did, we'd see a ton of software being sold month-by-month, with remote activation via Internet. There's no technical block to doing so, and there hasn't been in over a decade. The problem is that whenever someone tries it, nobody outside of the business world is interested.

        People don't want to be at the mercy of the cable company or the phone company. We're talking about the two companies the average person probably hates most, and now you're offering them a way to make their entire computer system totally dependent on the whims of the corporate behemoths they hate?

        People don't want ever-increasing prices. Look at how the cable company jacks up subscription rates several times a year. Who wants that for all the software they run?

        Network connections aren't reliable enough. Ask DSL users if they want their entire computer to turn into a doorstop every time the DSL is slow or out.

        People don't want the upgrade treadmill. If you buy your software by subscription from an ASP, you get upgrades when they decide. And of course, the upgrades may break things, make your PC slower, or even outright fail to run. That's why people don't upgrade their OS, don't install new Windows patches, and don't upgrade their applications. They've been burnt before. If it ain't broke, they don't want it fixed.

        Computers aren't fast enough. Thanks to the ever-increasing bloat of software, editing a text file today is slower than it was in 1987, when my 16MHz Atari ST system could smooth-scroll (pixel by pixel) at 64 lines per second running Tempus on a large soft-wrapped text file. My Linux box can't even seem to line-scroll that fast in vim. Hence, there's always a need to make PCs faster, and given a network computer, the easiest way to make it a shitload faster is by adding a hard disk, installing the software locally, and removing the network latency delays.

        In short, the minor benefits of Network Computing don't outweigh the enormous costs and liabilities. It isn't going to happen in a free market. It only happens (sometimes) in business because PHBs impose it on everyone regardless of cost/benefit analysis.

  • Not Likely. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blackknight ( 25168 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:17PM (#11238310) Homepage
    Some people may be happy with just a dumb terminal as it does reduce the maintenance headaches of running a pc.

    However I'm not sure I would want any company to have that level of control over my desktop system. Not to mention having all of my apps and data held hostage to a subscription fee.

    People have been predicting the death of PCs since PCs were invented, but it hasn't happened yet. Anybody remember when network computers were supposed to be the next big thing?

  • They'll love it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AiY ( 175830 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:18PM (#11238312) Homepage
    I think there is one thing that will make MS be happy with lots o' bandwidth - TV over IP. They own lots of patents in conjuction with it and started really developing after they realized that one monopoly (cable TV providers) doesn't like another (MS). Ignorance of the Internet by MS is so '90s - they had the money to make up for their ignorance.
  • Not the only reason (Score:5, Informative)

    by SouperIan ( 831676 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:18PM (#11238318) Homepage
    For those who didn't read the article, the reason why Microsoft should fear bandwidth is that control of the computers will be turned over from the home user to a remote company. That is a good enough reason in its own right, but there are other reasons for MS to fear high-bandwidth connections. People stuck on a dial-up are less likely to be able to download Linux and other OSS. The propogation(sp?) rate of viruses, worms and other malware greatly increases because always-on connections spread them constantly - and quicker, which helps to highlight weaknesses in Windows.
  • by wyoung76 ( 764124 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:18PM (#11238319)
    The future certainly seems to be heading that way.

    However, the main problem I have with the authors point of view is that of a Modern World perspective. As evidence that this future is still many a generation away from becoming reality, we need only look at the Third World countries and witness the total lack of infrastructure in supporting such a society of high bandwidth and low local maintenance computing.

    The local computer is a fast, simple, and easy way of getting the required (or needed/desired) computing power to the people in poorer nations without worrying about the HUGE commitment in upgrading or installing the infrastructure that we modern nations are beginning to take for granted.

    So while we sit here behind our NATs, and use our computers while eating pizza and sipping on a latte, and think that the future is all silicon, we run the very real risk of not seeing the digital divide grow ever more quickly.

    At some point in the future, our societies will have grown so far apart that computers will cease to be the "big" problems that we ultimately face.
    • by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:13PM (#11238617)
      Actually, it is much easier for many developing nations to give everyone broadband. The US is burdened with lots of slow, legacy networks that were installed many years ago and are still in use. They are obsolete, but they are a huge investment nevertheless, so nobody wants to rip them out and replace them.

      If a developing country gets the idea to build some communications infrastructure, they could easily and cheaply put in wireless or fiber connectivity, since there is usually no problem getting spectrum or right of way. After all, running regular phone service costs almost as much as running fiber. In my opinion, 20 years down the road the US will still be using cable and DSL while developing countries will have fiber to the premises.
  • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:19PM (#11238320)
    Sure, they MAY become ASPs (doubtful), but who do you think will supply the software these companies run to supply services to the users? Microsoft. They will make server licensing comparable to retain their current profit levels so nothing will change.
  • Email phishing is on the rise. Big time. And unlike viruses, Trojan horses and spyware, phishing scams are completely platform-independent, affecting naive Windows, Mac and Linux users equally.
  • How? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrackedButter ( 646746 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:20PM (#11238330) Homepage Journal

    This all seems to easy, how can MS fail and others succeed while in the same space, nobody would know the difference between a local peice of software or from an ASP?
    People only know through what they are given, if the content providers stay the same and continue to recommend the same, then how can Open Source gain a foothold, even already its free!
    Besides, MS may be slow but they are not stupid, they'll slowly adapt and we might be back at square one again.
    I don't like it when the future is trying to be predicted, there are too many variables.
  • With Linux ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by at2000 ( 715252 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:21PM (#11238336)
    we can boot the whole OS from the net with ease [cs.hku.hk].
  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:23PM (#11238351) Homepage
    The popularity of web based apps (I've sold a couple for small offices) is astounding. Install one place and go. LAMP (Linux Apache Mysql Php) or java (JBOSS) makes this very convienient. Only one machine to maintain vs many installs across multiple computers. Of course if the one server fails....
    At my company more and more things are moving to web based colabrative apps (Notes/ Bug tracking/ timecards..).

    Active X was MS attempt to control this market by making web apps work only with internet explorer. Fortunetly it didn't catch.

    Web mail is another web app that is astoundingly usefull and has driven this trend.

    The main thing holding it back is web browsers are cludgy to develop real slick apps with. Javascript helps but.. Gmail is pretty decent.

    Most people don't care what OS they are running if the web works and they can get what they want. Computer purchasers are very unloyal to brand names. It remains to be seen if they remain loyal to MS windows.
    • by rayd75 ( 258138 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:52PM (#11238813)
      "Active X was MS attempt to control this market by making web apps work only with internet explorer. Fortunetly it didn't catch."

      Huh? Where have you been? I can't look at any type of business application without a dozen vendors tripping over themselves trying to come show me a "web-based" application that is in reality an ActiveX-based one. It's insane but no one except the Slashdot crowd seems to recognize that ActiveX applications are in fact Win32 applications framed inside Internet Explorer and that they provide none of the benefits one is normally looking for when considering true web-based applications. It didn't catch-on on the Internet at large but unfortunately, in intranet applications, ActiveX is doing very well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Show me the money, honey. I've been hearing this prediciton since, oh, before you were born. I've yet to see it come true. I will *NEVER* relinquish control of my computer to anyone I don't know on a first name basis and trust with my life.

    That's two, maybe three people, tops, and Verizon ain't one of 'em.
  • by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:25PM (#11238366) Homepage
    This story is neither from a reputable industry source nor a respected figure in the IT industry. In fact, I can find no attribution at all. Putting this on slashdot is a total editorial botch. Not only does the hypothesis completely fall apart unde the enormous weight of logic, but there is not even anecdotal evidence to support it.

    • reputable industry source nor a respected figure in the IT industry

      Like Paul Thurott or John Devorak?

      There are increaingly fewer "reputable industry sources" or "respected figures in the IT industry". Just because something's on a blog (as onerous as that term is) doesn't mean it's not valid.

    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:18PM (#11238657) Journal
      Being a respected figure at a reputable industry source does add some credibility, mostly because editors sometimes make sure fact-checking gets done and basic writing skills get used, and a certain amount of Darwinism gets rid of many of the less capable and less insightful writers, but so what? It's an open-source news industry these days, and if some blogger says something insightful and interesting, it makes sense for Slashdot to pick it up, and if some well-respected pundit at a reputable trade rag says something lame and uninteresting, it makes sense for Slashdot to ignore it (unless somebody's writing an article about how lame most of the industry mouthpieces are.)

      In this case, I don't think the article has much depth to it - the main concept is appealing, but I don't see enough thought behind it to really win. But even so, I'd mod you -1 Flamebait :-)

  • BOfHAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:31PM (#11238397) Homepage Journal
    " telcos and cable companies would be glad to take this [sysadmin] task from them [users]"

    Right, just like cable companies are looking to take over servicing my TV, and telcos want to get back into supporting any wires or devices inside the network junction box they installed 15 years ago outside my house :P. In fact, those companies run as fast as they can from supporting terminal equipment, or the users attached to them: selling you the phone was a major judo flip of the consumer under 1980s telco "de"regulation. ISPs, whether voice, video, data or otherwise, are in the routing business, and little else. That link in the chain offers the least risk, lowest complexity, and most power in the entire system, therefore the highest profit over the longest time.

    In fact, *no one* wants to be in the terminal/user support business. That business is always a loss leader, to sell other, profitable products/services under the same "trusted" brand. Even Red Hat's support service business is only sensible in combination with their customization and other service package offerings.

    Let's face it: computers suck, users are incompetent, and everything's too difficult to "fix" - it's much more profitable to replace systems and ignore problems, while sending more and more infotainverts down the pipe to keep people paying. However, for those of us locked out of the ISP monopoly tier dominated by telcos and cablecos, we can compete in their shadow. Even more interesting than remote desktop or even server sysadmin is firewall admin. Not only can small operations scale up with automation and global 24h distributed coverage, but central admin in the modern Internet offers advantages against worms, viruses, and other problems. Verizon vs Microsoft isn't much of a probability in the bandwidth landscape. But the BOfHAA is a new threat to Computer Associates, and even IBM Consulting. Let's go get 'em!
  • This article is right on target.

    What people really want is a Small consumer gadget [about.com] that can check e-mail and browse the web, not a PC. Perhaps it would even work for corporate networks [cnet.com] in the place of PCs.

    I bet even Sun Microsystems [cpg.com] might have some plans to dominate this market.
  • What about people like me that do want to be sysadmins of their own machines?
  • I can't wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:33PM (#11238407) Homepage Journal
    I have a wireless laptop that follows me around my house. It's only purpose is RDP into my home-office Win/XP machine. If the bandwidth was there, I'd love to eliminate the home-office machine and be able to get my desktop anywhere in the world from a "PC service provider". It totally makes sense -- let them worry about backups, hardware upgrades, etc.

    Related to this, when is Linux going to get something like RDP? No, X11 isn't it. When you disconnect from X11, it blows away your desktop. VNC is closer, but boy does VNC suck compared to RDP. It's unbelievably slow. I know why it's slow, but that doesn't excuse the fact that it sucks.

    • Re:I can't wait (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:55PM (#11238509)
      short: my whole world is vnc. I live in it. it works.

      longer: I have a freebsd server that is up 7x24. it holds my 'state'. my desktop and all the windows (xterms, browsers, debug windows, whatever). its in my 'server room' which I allow to be a bit noisier and I can close the door off, etc.

      in the living areas, I can use 'floating' laptops or a desktop in the living room. that one usually runs XP since XP talks well enough to its connected hardware (ethernet cards, video cards, .11g cards, etc). and vncviewer sitting on top of XP on top of gig-ethernet - its QUITE a good 'thin client'. really, its extremely fast - faster than vncviewer sitting on top of X11 on top of any unix. the vnc client-over-XP is fast enough that with a point to switched gig-e or even fastEther connection between the client (xp) and server (freebsd) - when I move windows opaquely around on my 'desktop' its damned near as fast as a local move.

      other advantage: I can have multiple viewers (even with write access) on at the same time. the laptop in the bedroom on wireless can see the same persistent desktop that the living room XP/gig-e client sees. I can enable power-saving on the desktops and laptops (works well in XP) and have the clients auto shutdown or hibernate after a timeout. I simply press the power switch and come back from hiber (very fast) and re-run vncviewer and bingo - my old (year old) desktop is back again. (I think most people have never ever had this experience of a persistent computer desktop that lasts in the months and even years).

      I've been doing it that way for over 2 yrs now. works very very well. I get uptimes in the years for my 'desktop'. vncserver on freebsd is a GREAT server combo and is stable as it gets.

      don't tell me vnc isn't the answer. everything I see and type is via a vnc connection (currently on a wireless xp laptop and having NO interface speed or lag issues at all. you wouldn't know you weren't actually local.)
      • Re:I can't wait (Score:5, Insightful)

        by danila ( 69889 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:48PM (#11238792) Homepage
        Do you seriously believe that the majority of the customers would be willing to pay for 3-4 computers instead of one? A cheap PC costs 200-300$ today (without a monitor) and the software can be as cheap as you like. There is no way home users would be interested in an expensive setup like you have with no benefits apparent to them.

        The only area where thin clients can be useful is the corporate world where thousands of machines need the same software. But even there the situation will not stay the same in the long term as different software more and more permeates every corner of our lives (including professional lives), so the environment is no longer a homogenous setup of office + email + browser. Furthermore, everything that can be done using thin clients can be done just as easily using traditional computers if you are willing to accept the same limitations that NC imposes on you.
  • such silliness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zamfir ( 585994 )
    "Most users have no desire to be the system administrators of their machines, and would gladly turn that task over to someone else for a nominal fee."

    MOST users dont know what a system administrator IS to begin with - and those who do know that function enough to understand the value of it are the people who are going to be self sufficient.

  • Combined with Microsoft's incredibly poor security, the next generation of consoles, PDAs, and appliances should do it. People are sick of malware and new patches for glaring IE or Windows exploits. They want their internet and game box to be as reliable as a toaster or microwave.

    If people are given a choice between buying a $500-$1000 PC + $20, $50 or more/year for AV and other security subscriptions; or $300 for a PS3 or XBox2--that is a better gaming platform than all but the most expensive PC--and a
  • This is stirring vague recollections of the "Internet Computer" that was going to be everywhere in the next few years way back in 1995. Most people may have no desire to be sys-admins, but they generally have a lesser desire to pay more money than they have to.

    Also, sys-admin access-rights data for thousands of machines is oh-so-secure ISP databases? *shudder*

    I'll believe it when I see it
  • by techmuse ( 160085 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:38PM (#11238433)
    You don't want your whole computing experience to be controlled by one or two companies. You really don't. Let's look at the cable industry for an example. My local cable company charges $15/month just for the stations you get over the air, and forces you to use a converter box. A cable subscription with most channels (but no premium channels) is $50/month = $600/year! Plus, cable companies are renowned for terrible service and prices that go up 10% / year.

    Now imagine being forced to use THEIR choice of system in THEIR choice of configuration, with your data stored on THEIR server. Want to move or switch providers? Sorry. They've got your data. Want to install your favorite software? Sorry. Only their applications are allowed. Wishing for Office 2010? Sorry. They think Office 97 is good enough. Machine has a problem? Well, they'll have to send someone out at some point in the next 24 hours, and you'll have to wait at home for them, just like you do for cable.

    And what makes you think that a cable company won't be vulnerable to all the attacks we have now?

    All this would do is give us high prices, poor service, restricted choices, outside control of our data and usage, lots of ads, and little chance of improved security.

    No thanks!
  • in that its been painfully demonstrated to us that common folks can't now (and prolly never will) be effective sysadmins of their public ip-enabled machines. if its off the net, who cares. but if its on the public net, then we all DO care.

    so yes, allow for the thin client (yes, that old idea) for most button pressers; and of course still allow regular computers for those who can handle it.

    the idea that every grandma and technophobe will be able to secure their site is flawed. it will NEVER be that syst
  • by moduc ( 620300 )
    M$ will have problem not because of the ISP will replace them, but because people will easily download software, and they will nolonger have as much the distribution advantage as of today (interm of bundling). If downloading OpenOffice takes 3 seconds, then users would much more likely to download it. Ofcourse, computers must also be much faster to have it install in couple seconds, and start up quicker. If not, then M$ stil have the advantage of being more seemingly integrated.
  • by minairia ( 608427 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:42PM (#11238445)
    I agree with the idea of a centrally managed environment controlled by ISPs. This would be perfect for older users, average non-tech users and children. If I was a parent, for instance, it would be great if our home PC was as managed in terms of software installs, web-sites that could be visited, etc. as our PCs at work.It would be especially good to have the system alert me if my children were sending e-mails or IMs involving sexual and/or illegal content with strangers on the net. My father virus infects himself about once a month, no matter how many times I warn about going to dodgy sites. I set up Firefox, but, somehow, he (and my mother) always find their way back to Internet Explorer no matter how hard I try and hide it.

    Of course, such a system would need an opt out provision. I would not want my own personal use PC to be managed by anyone other than myself. I can imagine that when my kids got to a certain age they'd be allowed to use the "adults computer". I'd also be sure to make sure that, if my son or daughter developed an interest early on in IT and PCs other than just IM or music downloads that I'd give them access to an opt-out machine. Even with the risk of their being exposed to the dark side of the net, I feel it would be more important that they have a fully functional tool available to build their knowledge, if computers were their thing.

    Some will say that the best way to control your kids internet access is to watch your kids. I agree, but, realistically, with the schedules we follow today combined with the nefariousness of the average teen boy in terms of finding ways to see naked chicks, dead people, etc., having the IT department of my ISP keep an eye on things would be a real blessing. Having the system prevent them from installing god knows what virus ridden dreck from the internet would save endless time spent in restoring systems, reformatting hard-drives, etc.

    With the MPAA/RIAA lawsuites flying everywhere, as a potential parent, the last thing I want to find in my mailbox is a demand for hundreds of thousands of dollars because my daughter downloaded a Britany Spears song or two. (I blackly hate the RIAA but, as one guy on a budget, if they come after me, they win.) I know the risks and no ways to protect myself when using p2p networks, an average 10 year old, or an average 70 year old (my father just loves downloading movies) won't have a clue.

  • Hardly. Who do you think will provide the ISPs and ASPs with their software? What do you think it's going to run on? Microsoft Office will become a subscription service running on Windows servers.
  • PC's are only about 20 years old but for the last decade people have been constantly saying that the "PC as we know it" only has a decade left. There still here and I can't see them going anywhere soon.

    As for this proposed business model, what is it that people are actually paying for ?, people can be pretty dumb but they rarely give their money away for no perceived gain. The only way it could possibly work is for the ISP to guarantee protection from viruses and spam, I can't see how they could do that
  • It's mine!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nodehopper ( 839304 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:47PM (#11238466) Homepage
    I don't see, even basic computer users, wanting to give up local control of their computers. My IT department is looking to roll out a Terminal Server as a way of saving IT budget. This will run the OS and applications on Thin Clients from a centralized Terminal Server. Many of the users immediately balk at losing control of their local computer. Even those who aren't very computer literate. It is just a normal human reaction to someone taking away control. Into this add the current distrust of anything being done over the internet. How many people do you know who refuse to do "X" over the internet? With "X" being: home banking, shopping with a credit card, give out personal info, etc. I know quite a few and they are mostly the less informed users. I understand what an SSL encrypted connection is and basic internet security where as average users don't. This entire concept just goes against too many facets of basic human nature to take off. In my opinion people would rather have a spyware infested mess of a computer of their own that allow some one from outside to take control away from them
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:48PM (#11238472)
    I just heard some sad news on slashdot - the Personal Computer will be found dead in ten years time. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss the PC - even if you didn't enjoy its work, there's no denying its contributions to slashdot culture. Truly a global icon.
  • If service providers offered configuration management services, would they then pressure Microsoft to, when adding features, make those features more amenable to provider-based management rather than end user based management?

    Does Microsoft invest in any bandwidth providers? Should future investments in this direction make us nervous?

    What about the mono-culture problem? When a provider applies the latest patch and clicks the wrong button, will a million PC's get trashed? Who's going to visit all those
  • Bullcrap. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @12:50PM (#11238481)

    The PC as we know it probably only has a decade or so left.

    Boy am I tired of this old chestnut.

    If anything, adding bandwidth or any other features or functionality will only serve to keep the PC around longer - the more it can do, the more reasons you have to have one. Your PC can now edit movies, be a mutlimedia station, a jukebox, a gaming console...and as it begins to compete in these new areas, devices that used to provide these services are going away. If anything is going away, it's your VCR player or your DVD player. Or your 5 CD changing stereo. Next, it's probably your TV.

    And the PC can't be replaced in some ways. Exactly how are you going to program on your PS2? Ever tried surfing the web on an iPaq? The PC solves certain kinds of problems exactly perfectly, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

    In fact, I used to work at an engineering firm that made StrongARM platforms for embedded Linux and WindowsCE. Our CEO's business strategy was that the "death of the PC has begun", and we were ready to step in and fill the void.

    They're bankrupt now.

  • But.. eventually it will happen.. 10? Donno.. might be too soon.

    But in time, between people not wanting to deal with things, and having to lease even your OS, it will take place.. eventually.
  • The basic assertion here is that there will be a rise of the Application Service Provider that will take the responsibility for application and OS purchase decisions away from the individual and give it to the ASP.

    The company, we are to assume, is going to be smarter than the individual and will avoid Microsoft products. But this assumption is silly. Large organizations have already rushed into the arms of Microsoft, buying in to Windows, Office, Active Directory, Exchange, and IIS.

    Centralizing the mark

  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:19PM (#11238665)
    The article has some reasonable points and certainly it is possible that some fraction of the population would be content with some form of thin client managed by a remote company. Certainly businesses should be strongly moving in that direction for many of their needs. Indeed many use PC's now only because of habit or because they're still the cheapest. But they really use these PC more like thin clients. They Ghost the disk, MS Office might live on the local disk, but all work files live on the file server and the work flow wouldn't be altered one iota if replaced by a thin client. If the PC fails, they replace it with another with identical Ghost'd disk, i.e. without regard to recovering the contents of the old disk, because there is nothing there, its all on the file server. Again, it might as well have been a thin client.

    However despite increasing bandwidth out to the Internet as a compelling force, equally powerful trends suggested the continued importance and popularity of the home PC. Most of these trends can be summed up as needing even higher bandwidth locally, as well as needing specific interfacing of other devices, both of which aren't likely to be reasonably handled by some form of thin client. For example, all the reasons to burn personalized CDs or DVDs. It is not likely that burning CDs or DVDs would happen straight over the Internet without some kind of fast local store (i.e. hard disk). Another is interfacing digital and video cameras and editing those results. Again it doesn't seem reasonable to build a thin client to interface these device just to ship the many gigs of data (particularly video) out over the Internet to a remote fileserver and, worse, to perform editing against the remote fileserver -- these applications, popular on the home front, pretty much dictate a home PC-like architecture with fast, large local file store.

    Undoubtedly many others will come up, because the same kinds of advancing technology that permits higher bandwidths to the Internet, also provide even higher bandwidth needing applications locally. And the reason why thin clients have yet to take off among the general population is simply that hard disks are so cheap, so the difference between the cost of a PC and a thin client is very small and yet one gives up all the flexibility, etc. For many, this situation is likely to continue.

    Actually the argument is rather similar to arguments for and against the future of distributable home entertainment media vs just using big pipes. Does anyone think that we won't have media like CDs, DVDs, HD-DVDs, PS2 games, etc in the future. Why not distribute all music and movies and video games via big pipes ? Why have a PS2 or Xbox or GC in the future, or an HD-DVD player ? Just use a thin client... Some of the same reasons why...

  • by Control-Z ( 321144 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @01:42PM (#11238769)
    If MS keeps behaving the same way they have been, they'll welcome more bandwidth. Look at XP product activation. People have pretty much put up with it. That is a step down the slippery slope of losing control of your own personal machine.

    If remote system administration is going to be a trend, I'm sure MS will be at the front. They'll either be there first or wait until a big player emerges and buy them out.

  • by miketang16 ( 585602 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @02:05PM (#11238869) Journal
    But I WILL be keeping at least one personal computer for the rest of my life. I don't care what new "application service" system they come up with. I like things to be mine, and I like to control them.
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) * <ellem52 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:08PM (#11239192) Homepage Journal
    I say this all the time. I used to believe everyone should have a computer, then they started calling me and I quickly realized very few people should have a computer.

    However, the applications a computer runs are very good and very important. Email, Web Surfing, some data/word processing are all terribly useful for the average person. If only the damned computer weren't in the way!

    Palm has a really smart way to deal with that by limiting any interaction with the OS and making the App king. Plus having everything running all the time makes everything faster.

    The smart money is on going BACK to mainframe type applications and computing. Java (etc) have been invented so what's the wait?
  • by dswensen ( 252552 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:17PM (#11239231) Homepage
    "The PC as we know it probably only has a decade or so left."

    Aw, again?! It's died so many times already...
  • by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:20PM (#11239246)
    So many doomsayers over the years have talked about how PCs are going to radically change in the near future and it has yet to come to pass. PCs won't change that much (in the terms that this article speaks of) until there is actually a need. Right now there is no outstanding need adn let's be honest, what ISP wants to take on more tech support roles?
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:23PM (#11239257)
    Microsoft wants profit, not monopoly. Predictions and wish-fulfillment fantasies premised on the notion that the goal of of MS is, first and foremost, to preserve its effective OS monopoly, are wrong.

    That monopoly certainly helps MS rake in the money, but it is only a means to an end.

    I'm very skeptical about any proposed PC-successor that doesn't allow people to keep their software on their hardware. Likewise, I doubt people will allow tomorrow's equivalent of Time Warner or Verizon to remotely admin their hardware: Would you believe them when they claimed they won't look at your data?

    That said, if something does emerge to threaten the personal computer, my guess is MS will use a portion of those tens of billions of dollars sitting in its coffers to buy its way out of obsolescence.
    • by Tony ( 765 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:34PM (#11239586) Journal
      Microsoft wants profit, not monopoly. Predictions and wish-fulfillment fantasies premised on the notion that the goal of of MS is, first and foremost, to preserve its effective OS monopoly, are wrong.

      I agree 100% with the rest of your analysis.

      Microsoft works very, very hard to maintain the monopoly, so much so that they have sacrificed profit to maintain the monopoly (think IE, XBox, MSN, comments about willingness to "knife the baby," etc). In so many ways, their profit is tied directly to their monopoly-- if the monopoly dies, their profit dies. The Microsoft administration must realize this.

      Effectively, Microsoft's best way to maintain profits is to maintain the monopoly. It allows them to cut back development dollars (on IE, for instance) while still making a lot of money. They have only to plan for a 3-year upgrade cycle, and their profits are assured.

      I judge and predict Microsoft's actions based on the idea they are trying to maintain a monopoly. So far, they have not let me down. The monopoly-oriented management model is useful, even if it isn't correct.
      • If MS has "sacrificed profit" to preserve its monopoly, it has been a short-term tactic in the interests of its long-term goal: profit.

        Including IE with the OS, at no "extra" cost", was simply recognition of the fact that size of the market for selling a browser is effectively zero (or, no bigger than Opera's marketshare). Given the choice between trying to sell IE into a market dominated by the free Netscape browser, or to entice more Windows sales by bundling IE with the OS, MS made the choice to boost W
  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @03:38PM (#11239328) Homepage
    I think the argument for a more service-based PC has some major issues to get around:

    First, there needs to be some receiver machine at the home end. A reasonable computer can be had for around $500 nowadays. Unless this subscriber machine can be had for less than $200, there is no incentive to move to this model.

    Second, nothing is free. This service will be a subscription-based service. I think it would have had some bearing had people not been burned by subscriptions from other companies. Witness the cable companies and TiVo and how they've handled their subscriptions. Witness the cellphone subscriptions. Paying outrageous rates for using a computer won't succeed if there is no conomic reason to do so. People will sooner purchase Macintoshes.

    Thirdly, there is the issue of control. You're dealing with people's data, and their private information. I will never relinquish control of my checkbook, nor my family pictures, nor anything else like that. Some people may be amenable to this, but many will not. The computer is a multimedia device now, and people have scads of personal data on their computers. It'll take a very convincing argument, and a company with a reputation for integrity to wrestle away that desire for control.

    The PC as we know it will change, but I see that change moving more to a home entertainment/personal network than a service based machine. Witness the supposed death of the mainframe when the PC was released. It hasn't happened yet, and it's unlikely that mainframes will vanish overnight. Saying the PC will drastically change to a model where people aren't in control of their programs and their data is a prognostication that is unlikely to materialize.

  • Kids these days... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dutky ( 20510 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:34PM (#11239585) Homepage Journal
    Does nobody remember the origins of the personal computer?!? Back in the mid-seventies most computing was done in business and institutions on terminals connected to large, centralized computing systems: time-shared mainframes or mini-computers. To a large degree, personal computing was a backlash against these centrally controlled systems and the managerial structures built up around them: system administrators who decreed what software would and would not be installed, billing systems that accounted for every fractional second of computing time, computer operators who controlled which users jobs would run and when, etc. Inexpensive, single-user computers (starting with mini-computers like the PDP-8 and PDP-11, but continuing with the Apple II and IBM-PC) represented a revolution for end users control of their own systems.

    Every decade or so, since the rise of the personal computer, we see some attempt to re-impose the rule of centralized systems, usually under the guise of 'easing the burden on end-users' but always including an increased financial burden on those same end-users. The simple economic facts are that computer power (by any measure: instructions per second per dollar, main-memory bytes per dollar, on-line storage bytes per dollar, etc.) has become so inexpensive that all the old reasons for centralized computing systems no longer apply (and haven't applied for at least 20 years). The only reason these new centralization schemes is to find some way to extract money from existing computer users, whether or not the users actually want the sevice being provided. The idea that people will willingly give up control of their own systems and pay for the privilage may be a wet dream for companies hoping to collect the money, but it doesn't sound like a very good business plan.

    The solution to the increasing administrative burden on computer users is not hire someone to do the administration: instead, we need computers that actually reduce amount of administration required or make the task of administration markedly easier. This is what personal computers did 40 years ago, and it can be done again.

  • Internet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rekkr ( 771729 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:09PM (#11239998)
    IF this happens it would probably sound the death knell of p2p. When all computers, applications, and files are running/located from the ISP's computer, the ISP would be free to delete copyrighted material, block ports, delete p2p applications, etc. The ISP could also do whatever else it wanted. It could remove/censor offensive websites. It could set up filters... All kinds of things. The internet wouldn't be free anymore. There would be no more reason to use it...
  • by BELG ( 4429 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:38PM (#11240487)
    Yes, most people would benefit greatly from having their system administration done by someone else. They don't know how to secure their boxes, or how to fix them when something goes wrong, and yet they insist on hosting their applications locally. Confounding, isn't it?

    Comparing this to corporate IT is silly. A company is quite likely -not- to trust users to do the right thing, nor to keep their data safe, so they have one hell of an incentive to outsource. Individually however, it's all about privacy, even if said privacy is an illusion. People need to be able to go to bed at night, thinking their skeletons are safely tucked away in the closet. A cracker might very well have access to their data, but they don't know that, and stupid as it may be, most people would rather close their eyes to uncomfortable facts than to face them.

    Why is it that people are dead set of driving around in huge wasteful individual vehicles, for example? It'd make so much more sense on the grand scale of things if everyone that could just used public transportation, wouldn't it?

    IMHO, it has very little to do with the state of the PC or bandwidth, and a whole lot to do with human nature.
  • hold on a sec (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @11:21PM (#11241537) Homepage
    The internal bandwidth of machines will always be faster than the externel pipes. The cpu - memory speed will always be faster than your connection to the Internet.

    All that means local applications will outperform hosted apps. Given applications will always push the limits, the execution of most graphic apps, and apps that require more interaction than is possible through a terminal services screen, will always be slower from a remote station.

    That and our tendancy to OWN everything onto our desktop, similar to getting satellite dishes than pulling a cable and being at the mercy of cable companies. If most desktops are laptops in the future, its hard to believe any procssing will be offloaded killing the mobolity of the laptop.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain