If we look back at the history of computers we’ve seen so many different options available. In the eighties, most people owned an Atari or Amiga and most schools had a Spectrum in the corner of the classroom. There were many others, but what separated how they worked was the operating system.
We then saw the launch of Microsoft which appeared to take over the computer market overnight. It was a complete change in how we used our computers. Today Microsoft still dominates the business and consumer market, but they’ve seen strong competition from Apple and Chrome OS. Again, what separates a Microsoft, Apple, and Chrome OS computer is the operating system.
Apart from the looks and possible emotional ties to one particular brand. The reason we choose one computer over the other is all to do with how it works. How the operating system interacts with the software we use. Some computers are much better for video editing, others for playing games, and others are good at getting most things done but not dominating in any particular area.
The investment we make creates strong ties
Although people are happier to move from one computer to another today. It’s still true that most of us have strong ties to one particular system. Before the launch of Chrome OS most people were either die-hard Microsoft users or Apple users. This is something that will never go away completely because if you’ve invested a lot of time learning how a computer works. You’re less likely prepared to check out the competition.
This is absolutely fine if you get what you want from the computer you choose. However, in the last ten years, we’ve seen such a huge swift in what computers can offer us. Chrome OS had a big part to play in this because it gave people a new way to use a computer, which was getting things done in the cloud.
Apple and Android phones changed how we viewed technology
Before the launch of the Apple iPhone, which was quickly followed by the Android phone. Most people had to simply put up with using a Microsoft computer to get things done. I loved my Microsoft computer back then. However, it’s also true I liked spending time getting my computer to work how I wanted. I did not think about how much time I was spending fixing drivers and other errors I came up against.
The simple reason for this is that I knew nothing better. I had invested my time in Microsoft from school age and was not prepared to check out Apple. Therefore, I was emotionally tied to Microsoft and was happy to put up with the fact I’d have to spend time fixing things. I simply assumed this is what was necessary if you wanted to use a computer.
Smartphones showed tech did not need to be complicated
The iPhone and Android phones showed us how easy technology can be to use. I strongly believe before they existed there was a huge number of people who simply did not use a computer. Smartphones changed all this because they are much easier to use and very rarely go wrong.
If a phone starts acting in a way you would not expect. Most of the time it’s simply a matter of turning your phone off and on again. This fixes nearly all the issues you may come up against on your phone. This was also true for some issues when a computer stopped working. However, when a simple switch of the on/off switch didn’t fix your computer issues. Unless you had a good understanding of how the operating system worked. You were most likely left feeling frustrated and had to head to your local tech shop to get your computer working again.
This would have definitely put people who did not feel confident with tech off using a computer. The smartphone changed all this and is one of the reasons why it has taken off in such a big way. Whether you choose Apple or Android, apart from the differences in looks and how the operating system works. Both types of phones can do very much the same when it comes to getting things done.
Chrome OS offers the same easy to use experience
I’m almost certain Google is well aware the reason why so many people use phones is due to how easy they are to use. This is most likely why Google decided to launch Chrome OS. They realised a lot more people on the planet wanted to use tech, but were most likely put off because they felt computers were confusing to use.
If there were so many new adopters of the smartphone it was likely many of these would have also been happier using a computer for some tasks. Smartphones are great, but there are certain tasks, which are much easier to do on a laptop. The problem was, the non-tech-savvy were unaware of this because they didn’t have a laptop that they felt was easy enough to use.
Therefore, I’m also pretty confident there are plenty of Chrome OS users who may have never used a computer before. Sure, there are a huge number of users who have moved over from Apple or Microsoft. However, I know for a fact my mother never used an MS computer or Apple Mac. She does, however, use a Chromebook, and she’s 84 years old.
The ability to do everything from the cloud
Another major factor of why the smartphone was successful. Was because people suddenly had the ability to get so many things done from their phones. They did not have to consider buying separate software from the high street or an online retailer. They simply had a huge number of apps to choose from to get things done.
Depending on the phone you were using. You would simply visit the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store to find the app that you needed. Many of these apps are free to use, but you can also find premium apps that you may need to pay for. The difference between this experience compared to the computers available at the time is how accessible these apps were to use.
You didn’t need to worry about making sure you buy the software that is right for a specific task. There are so many apps available that you can simply use many different apps before you find the app that you prefer. It’s that instant access to apps on a phone that is easy to install and use that has made smartphones the success they are.
The success of Chrome OS and smartphones have changed how we use our computers
It is having a computer that is easy to use and where you don’t have to worry about a broken operating system. That has seen the rise of Chrome OS not only for the consumer but also in the education sector. Also, the ability to use the same Android apps you’ve used on your phone on a Chromebook is a great selling point.
Although you can get more technical with Chrome OS if you want to by using Linux Apps. You can get most things done by simply visiting a website or installing an Android App.
At the moment this means computers are different enough for people to have to make a choice. You may have many different reasons why you use a specific computer. The types of tasks we need a computer for is the main reason why we choose one computer over another. However, the differences we currently see are slowly fading away. It’s simply the case that computers in the future will be almost identical when it comes to getting things done.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Progressive Web Apps are the first step to universal computing. These apps will work on any computer that has access to an internet browser. It will not matter whether you’re using a Microsoft, Apple Mac, or Chrome OS computer. A PWA works directly from the browser and therefore the computer you’re using becomes rather irrelevant.
We already know the future of computing is in the cloud. It was Google who saw this vision with the launch of Chrome OS. We also know that other technology companies such as Microsoft are starting to see this vision. The fact is Microsoft did not really have much of a choice. Big software solution providers such as Adobe have already moved away from investing time in producing software you install locally.
This isn’t just great news for us the consumer. Software providers such as Adobe would much prefer to work on a PWA that is compatible with all computers. It will save them a huge amount of money not having to write different programs for all the different computer platforms currently available. This is the reason why cloud computing is here to stay.
The computer you choose to work with in the future will offer a very similar experience
We have only just seen the beginning of what PWAs can offer. When more software providers start investing more time in PWAs. We’ll start to recognise that you can do anything a computer is capable of in the cloud. You can already use Microsoft Office online, so you can use Excel or Microsoft Word and it doesn’t really matter what computer you’re using. This is the same when using the Google Office Suite. Providing you have a Google Account, you can use most Google products and it doesn’t matter whether you’re using an Apple Mac or Chromebook.
I can’t wait for the day when you can do anything you want and it doesn’t matter what computer you’re using to do it. The closer we get to that day, the closer the current operating systems will be built with that in mind. Therefore, the differences between Microsoft, Apple or Chrome OS will be much less than it is today.
It will simply be the case that the computer you decide to use will be down to personal preference rather than capability. This is where we already are to some extent with the Apple iPhone and Android phone. Both are capable of doing very similar tasks. It’s just how we get those tasks completed that is different, and that’s all to do with the slight differences between the Apple and Android phone OS.
It will always be the case that computers from different tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google will offer something different. However, in the future, those differences will be a lot more subtle than it is today.
You’ll not have to choose an Apple for video editing, an MS computer for music production, or a Chrome OS computer for cloud computing. All computers in the future will be cloud-focused, and the apps we use will work regardless of the computer we’re using. We’ll not have compatibility issues because PWAs are built to work in a browser.
Surely, this is a much better way of computing. Computers will be very similar to smartphones. All capable of very much the same. The only thing that will make us choose an Apple or Chrome OS computer, will simply be down to personal preference.