I talk about the role of third parties, specifically around web browser because part of Google’s success has been the integration of the web browser with their cloud and part of that integration has turned the web browser from merely being a glorified document viewer into a run time engine that acts as a gateway into Google’s online services. If as part of the process of modernising Windows involves shedding legacy code and bocking third party browsers then it opens up the chance that those of us who have made our bed with Google to make that leap into the world of Google. As Paul Thurrott noted in the latest ‘daily ring’ regarding Google’s services – all they have to be is good enough combined with the loss of legacy support for there to be a tipping point for once loyal customers of Microsoft, bound to Microsoft because of legacy support, to consider the real possibility of a world without Microsoft. The organisation I work for uses Chromeboxes and Chromebooks which replaced a complete end to end solution from Microsoft to now an end to end solution from Google at $25 per user per month where all the drama and detail is taken care of then combine that with the collaboration functionality of Google Docs, the best of breed searching capabilities which allow huge amounts of documents to be searched through – unless you’ve got legacy concerns then really the only place where Microsoft is gaining is transferring existing customers over from perpetual licencing on premises servers to using the cloud where as brand new businesses without the concerns for legacy systems are jumping straight into Google from the outset. Such a break down of customer demographics has been seen in multiple surveys where those using Office 365 tend to be established businesses with an existing relationship whereas Google Apps customers are small to medium businesses and startups.
From the business perspective it doesn’t look good but now start looking at it from the consumer perspective with the rise of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes that are not only ‘cheap and cheerful’ but the emergence of premium devices such as the HP HP Chrome Box G2 that’ll come build to order options such as upgrading to an 8th generation i7 processors and 16GB RAM along with after market upgrading of the built in storage due to the upgradeable m.2 slot so you can go from a 64GB SSD to what ever size you possibly could need. In the case of ChromeOS the capabilities of the Android run time are become more sophisticated where as in version 63 there was very limited support out of the box for sdcards and multi-tasking and version 64 which was released in the last 4 days incldues improvements in terms of integration between applications installed via the play store and the underlying operating system particularly around VPN support, setting up Android applications as default for file types, Android container optimisations particularly around auto-updating. Chrome 65 has even more in store as they move the platform forward – the best of both worlds; the robustness of ChromeOS with the application availability of Android. From the end user perspective it is a matter of loading up Play Store and all those applications they’re familiar with on their Android phone, well, they’re all now available on ChromeOS thus closing the app gap that has plagued alternatives to Windows for so long. You’ve got the benefit of a huge array of OEM’s with hardware properly supported out of the box (the hardware support has plagued Windows alternatives for years) then match that up with the application gap being closed there is a real opportunity for a viable third platform to emerge – and without the limitations that are rumoured to exist on Polaris.
So what could happen in the future? for my set up already I have all my email on GMail, all my documents I use with Google Docs with PDF creation baked right into Google Docs I am able to correspond with potential employers by sending out my resume and cover letter with no formatting lost or better still if I am asked, “hey, I like the cut of your jib son, want to forward me your resume” and can do it straight from my phone. When it comes to the phone the Samsung is really growing on me and it is performing reliability once I stopped getting hung up about updates and being on the latest version but instead just using the phone and enjoying it. That being said I’m already very much happy with with my NUC and Surface Book 2 which makes me wonder whether the Polaris devices will be focused on low end thin based computers with complete Windows like Windows Pro will get those enhancements such as the rumoured ‘C Shell’ whilst still being able to run win32 applications. I’ve bought two applications, Affinity Photo and Affinity Design, and I am very happy – heck, I’ve even given Office 365 from the store a spin and it is incredibly fast now that it is separated from the operating system. Now that applications are no longer bogging down the operating system it’ll be interesting to see what happens – the only native side loaded applications installed is Chrome with everything else being from the store. No complaints from me. Lets hope that with the release of 1803 and the rumoured release of iTunes into the store that we’ll see those limitations addressed and more third parties enter the store even if the applications they’re delivering are just repackaged win32/win64 applications.