Operating system decisions used to be so simple. Virtually every option started with Windows, and your only real decisions revolved around when to upgrade and to what specific version.
Those days are over. Sure, 9 out of 10 computers run some form of Windows, and the upcoming release of Windows 7 should at least maintain this dominance for a little while longer. Microsoft isn’t disappearing anytime soon, nor is its all-powerful Windows franchise. Whether we’re buying for our businesses or our homes, we all tend to value choices that are both familiar and broadly supported. Critical mass is everything here, which explains why no one Linux alternative has been successful in the commercial mainstream. Too quirky for the average joe.
But as much as we could conceivably continue on Windows cruise control forever, Google’s announcement in June of its upcoming Chrome OS signals a subtle but important change in the operating system market. We’re transitioning from an era of Microsoft-or-nothing, desktop-focused operating systems to a more competitive landscape marked by the emergence of increasingly capable mobile devices.
With this paradigm shift toward new form, factors and capabilities already well underway, the traditional OS that boots up in the morning, runs productivity and connectivity apps all day and then shuts down at night is changing. Cell phones and smart phones sport operating systems that turn on virtually instantly, let us quickly look something up, make a call or IM our moms, then turn off and are stuffed back into our pockets.…
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