Friday, 21 October 2016

Closing Windows

Closing Windows

While Apple PCs are considerably more expensive than Windows PCs they can be easier to manage and use - I have found this - I switched from using Windows to Mac four years ago and "get it".  I also noticed that about 5 years ago most network engineers I came across seemed to be toting Macs instead of Windows laptops.

“Give employees the devices they want, manage those devices in a modern way, and drive self sufficiency in the environment .... we have to go out and manage the Mac environment 104 fewer times a year than PC”.  IBM are using Jamf to manage their Macs.

Now ... I can't imagine a large scale change to Macs in education but the options for PCs are becoming more diverse again (after nearly 30 years of Microsoft hegemony). 

I'm quite a fan of Google Chromebooks - they are even cheaper, easier to manage and secure than Macs and fit well with my web-cloud philosophy. Chromebooks are making quite an impression for student use a Chromebook a lot - especially when I want security.

Now ... while Linux is used widely in data centres its not made the same impression for end user PCs except on programmer and developer PCs. I'm wondering if we might see more Linux coming to PCs in the near future. Dell for example are still selling Linux laptops - from the affordable Inspiron 15 3000 at £169 + VAT to their high end developer XPS laptops.

Linux can breath new life into old Windows PCs and I'm quite a fan of this - refurbishing old PCs with Linux and using them as their own is great project for IT students - this story from a few years ago is a favourite of mine "Pennsylvania High School Rolls Out 1,700 Linux Laptops to Students" 

Linux is an example of what I call "Citizen Tech" - its cost effective technology that allows "creativity, re-mixing, invention, exploration and experimentation in the science of craft." One example of this is the eAmbassador Chromium project I ran where students installed Chromium OS onto old Windows PCs - it was amazing to watch students demonstrate how to install Chromium in less than 5 minutes and remix an old PC into something useful.

Talking about remixing ... Remix OS is an Android flavour of Linux with loads of Android Apps and support for PC style elements such as mice, keyboards, windowed interface, file manager, system bar, and a dock at the bottom of the screen for apps.

The current era is starting to remind me of the time before the PC was made politically correct by IBM and Microsoft - back then in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was tremendous innovation from the diversity of stuff that was around. Back then we had the BBC Micro ...... today we have the BBC BIT. Super cheap nano computers like BIT,  PI, Arduino and CHIP are another development with interesting potential for personal computing.

It could be that interesting times are coming -  the PC market is shrinking and at the same time new PC devices are becoming available for personal computing.  Smartphones have become mainstream and now .......  new options are emerging for what is comes next.

Its just over 3 years to 2020.  Every mid decade a new era in IT begins to go mainstream - in the mid 1970s it was PCs, in the mid 1980s it was LANs, in the mid 1990s it was the Internet, in the mid 2000s it was social & mobile (web squared) and now ...........

Note ... I'm using PC to refer to both desktop and laptop versions of "personal computers" whatever operating system they are running be that Windows, MacOS, Chrome, Chromium OS or the various flavours of Linux.

1 comment:

  1. An eye opening article for me, highlighting the potential false economy of M$. If education was to reflect industry then we should have a diverse range of devices that staff and students can choose from but maybe the costs and resources needed would get in the way??? I like the look of the Remix OS and going to have play.