And this is why the future of Windows is irrelevant

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The future compute and information exploitation will be in the Cloud and Cloud services. That requires a step change in compute, which is why the investment in Quantum compute is so critical to their future.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43580972

Obviously Microsoft are behind IBM and Google on this next wave, but they appear to be betting on a different Particle.

All this makes discussions on client platforms rather moot. The client has be commoditised, we need to move on. Hoping we will hear a bit more at Build about how they intend to make this future available to us developers, since we know Google are so close to announcing their 50 Qubit compute.

Comments (39)

39 responses to “And this is why the future of Windows is irrelevant”

  1. Avatar

    Bats

    This makes total sense. People don't care about Operating Systems. Rather, they want their data processed "yesterday", so they can act on it immediately.

    • Avatar

      katedaisy

      In reply to Bats:

      yub, People don't care about Operating Systems. Whether seriouswork could be done with presentation software is a question for philosophers. router login

    • Avatar

      skane2600

      In reply to Bats:

      Operating Systems are just a means to an end. Cloud services are just a means to an end too. I've performed software development for a number of successful tech products that didn't bother to use either one. But as a developer, if you need some capability that is is supported by one and not the other, then you care, and by extension, so will your users.

  2. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Economics is catching up with Windows. The cost of networking and remote connectivity is coming down while the development cost of complex local device OSes is going up.

    As for quantum computing, it's going to take a while for it to become usable by developers without graduate degrees in both physics and computer science. Also, if the Danish lab supercooling chambers to less than 10 Kelvin is indicative, quantum computing isn't going to be cheap enough for 90% of BUILD attendees to use for a few decades.

  3. Avatar

    jchampeau

    Mute: "unable to speak : lacking the power of speech"


    Moot: "deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic."

  4. Avatar

    jean

    "What it allows us to do is solve problems that with all of our supercomputers running in parallel would take the lifetime of the universe to solve in seconds, hours or days."


    what does that have to do with Client Computing ?

    or do you really believe that a hyper boost airplane will replace a bike, a car, mandkind walking ? REALLY ?


    Quantum Computing will NOT REPLACE current computing platforms or current cloud platforms

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to jean:

      Just like PCs won't replace mainframes... There are still mainframes around today, but most people went for PCs. Quantum will take a while, before it comes down in price enough to be feasible to be used in clients as well as "mainframes", bu it will probably come.

      Whether that is in a year, 10 years or 50 years, I wouldn't want to say.

      • Avatar

        hrlngrv

        In reply to wright_is:

        Who can say what's possible decades from now?

        OTOH, if massively parallel computing hasn't made it to client machines by now given the relative simplicity of the components, it seems against the odds that quantum computing will come to clients as long as quantum computing requires supercooling and/or magnetic containment. Far more likely quantum time sharing may come to those willing to pay the cost of a new compact car for compute time.

      • Avatar

        Jules Wombat

        In reply to wright_is:

        Who said anything about Quantum compute being used in the clients ?

        What I am saying is we are about to hit 50 Qubit supremacy this Spring (IBM or Google), in which case we are on the technology path that Quantum Compute (which is only available in deep fridges at near zero kelvin) on the cloud will rapidly accelerate the intense processing capability, and especially deep layer AI services in the cloud.

        Given a highly plausible choice of 1000x compute power available in (Quantum based compute) Cloud verses 1x compute in the (non Quantum) Client, its not rocket science to realise that in the medium term future the emphasis on compute processing will be in the cloud and not in the Client side.

        I doubt if anyone today is prepared to train a 20 layer neural network on their desktop PC, no matter how many Graphics cards they are running Tensorflow on. This is done in the cloud.

        • Avatar

          skane2600

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          Processing speed has never been the factor holding back true AI. We just don't know how to create it.

          • Avatar

            Jules Wombat

            In reply to skane2600:

            The application of deeper and deeper networks, and that only Google with huge compute power is leading the AI race, would suggest you are wrong. It takes my local GTX 108Ti powered computer 5 days to learn to play Flappy Bird with Reinforcement Learning algorithms. So we really need 1000x increase in compute to make this a much more effective experiment/tune/play/evaluate loop. So processing speed is definitely a show stopper to AI development.

            • Avatar

              Hassan Timité

              In reply to Jules_Wombat:

              I agree with skane2600. We don't know how to create true AI. To throw more and more computing power to the problem won't help to create true AI. It will just help to make weak AI more and more efficient/faster.

            • Avatar

              skane2600

              In reply to Jules_Wombat:


              I'm sure faster hardware would allow NN's to solve Flappy Bird or other toy problems faster.


              As one AI researcher quipped: “An AI algorithm makes the perfect chess move while the room is on fire".

              • Avatar

                Jules Wombat

                In reply to skane2600:

                Yep OK, lets all just stick our heads back in the sand.

                If you don't think current, narrow AI will have much of an impact I suggest you ask the Japanese Insurance brokers who all lost theur jobs to algorithms. We have not even applied existing AI technology, thats in the technology bank and will fuel the next ten years of productivity and automation. No one is claiming general AI any time soon, simple AI is still pretty pwoerful, but a 1000x increase in dynamic (re) training would in ten years time will have a dramatic impact.

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          Who said anything about Quantum compute being used in the clients ?

          Who said anything about having the power of several mainframes in your pocket back in the 1960s and 1970s? ;-)

  5. Avatar

    wright_is

    This has been the next big thing for the last 30 years or so. Let's hope that this time they are finally on to something.

    At the end of the day, it is getting the work done that is important.

    Although it looks like the US government is doing all it can to destroy cloud computing, with overreach and ignoring international and local jurisdiction. If the current trend carries on, it will be impossible for any company with a US presence to be able to do business internationally.

    • Avatar

      shameermulji

      In reply to wright_is:

      With the rise in use of mobile operating systems, it looks like this time it's actually happening.

      • Avatar

        wright_is

        In reply to shameermulji:

        I don't think so. At least, if the US gets its way, companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon won't be able to offer cloud services in Europe, for example.

        It is illegal for an EU citizen to hand over data to an entity outside Europe without the written permission of all identifiable persons. The exception was Safe Harbor and it's replacement, Privacy Shield, which promised to protect the data to EU standards.

        With the latest changes in US law, they have essentially voided Privacy Shield and made it illegal for European companies and private individuals to use any cloud service with any presence in the USA.

        Facebook is already having a hard time here, WhatsApp was declared illegal 2 weeks ago by data commissioners, because it loads all the contacts into the WhatsApp cloud in the USA without checking to see if the user has obtained the written permission of EVERY contact before they do so. It is possible to switch off the uploading of the contacts, but then you can't find anyone to chat with, which makes it pointless.

        Most businesses are holding back on cloud anyway and with the latest changes, US cloud providers are then automatically excluded from any such decisions to move to the cloud.

        • Avatar

          hrlngrv

          In reply to wright_is:

          If EU countries place personal privacy above what some online service providers may view as greater efficiency, the EU may hurt those online service providers in the short and perhaps medium terms, but if there really are efficiencies, the EU would only be hurting itself in the long run.

          If the EU is resolute about remaining in the 1990s vis-a-vis online services, the rest of the world may let them. The odds are much better than the EU will eventually relent than that the EU would spawn alternative online service providers which could navigate EU privacy laws.

          • Avatar

            wright_is

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            If EU countries place personal privacy above what some online service providers may view as greater efficiency,

            If the EU is resolute about remaining in the 1990s vis-a-vis online services, the rest of the world may let them.

            I would say it is the other way round. The EU rules are new and specifically brought in to try and deal with the modern world. The EU philosophises, that the data about you is YOUR data and it belongs to you, or at least you have a right to know about it and decide what happens with it.

            That means that companies cannot collect and sell your personal data without your explicit permission - and the T&Cs of most online social media companies, for example, don't hold water in Europe. It is illegal for Facebook or Google, for example, to sell your profile to third parties or let third parties see it, which is the biggest part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal at the moment, 750,000 people did say that CA could look at their data, the other 49,250,000 people, whose data was "stolen" did not give their permission to Facebook to hand over that data. That is illegal under EU law.

            WhatsApp takes all of your contacts' data and copies it into WhatsApps cloud and, outside the EU, they share it with Facebook. In the EU, part of the stipulation for the purchase of WhatsApp was that that data would remain separated and Facebook would never be able to see it. Facebook have reassured the EU that this is the case, but nobody has any insight into how WhatsApp and Facebook deal with the data. The problem is, WhatsApp cannot legally load up your data into their cloud without the explicit written permission of every contact in your contact list. They can argument, that people who already use WhatsApp have agreed to this, but that still leaves the other 90% of contacts in your contact list who are not WhatsApp users and who haven't given their permission. That means the user of the app is, theoretically, liable to prosecution for breaching data protection laws. Signal, Threema and other similar apps get around this by not uploading your contacts lists, at "worst" they upload a hash of the phone number and compare it to the hashes of registered users, give back a list of contacts and delete those uploaded hashes from memory.

            This is different to online, personal contact lists, like GMail, Outlook.com etc. They sit in a quasi legal position, as long as the data is not shared with the provider or third parties and the data is held either within the EU or in countries with equivalent data protection laws or agreements with the EU. The USA has the Privacy Shield agreement, for example, which should ensure the data is held to EU standards, not handed over to third parties and only passed on to law enforcement with a valid EU warrant; except that the USA last week put through two new laws that pretty much negate Privacy Shield and make Google Docs, GMail, Outlook.com Office 365, Apple's iCloud and any other cloud service with a prensence in the USA (whether that be a headquarters or just a branch office or a single server) quasi illegal to use in Europe, because you cannot guarantee that the FBI won't turn up at Google's (or whoever's) door and force them to hand over the data without an EU warrant. If they did that, the "owner" of the data, the citizen or company in Europe, whose account has been plundered, is legally liable for a breach of the Data Protection laws and could face fines in excess of 20 million Euros.

            Does the cloud bring enough benefit to face the bad press and fines of 20 million Euros or 5% of annual turnover, whichever is the greater?


            • Avatar

              hrlngrv

              In reply to wright_is:

              . . . The EU philosophises, that the data about you is YOUR data and it belongs to you, or at least you have a right to know about it and decide what happens with it. . . .

              Replace data with money and consider this in the context of banks rather than online services, then ponder whether such a system would make sense.

              Should one, as a consumer, have several banks to choose from, some of which refusing to loan to gun manufacturers? Sure. How about refusing to loan to divorced people? OTOH, how is the bank supposed to pay interest to depositors if it can't loan depositors' money?

              If the EU want to make data-selling businesses as rare as interest-based banking in Muslim countries, go for it, but consider that the rest of the world may pass you by.

              Also ponder that EU style opt-in makes as much sense as everyone with a landline telephone needing to approve their phone numbers being listed in phonebooks.

              In my interpretation, EU countries want the cost-free benefits of online services without having to provide EU users' personal data, which is the accepted payment for those services in the rest of the world. If you believe that won't have consequences for the EU in the long term, you studied a different kind of economics that I did.

              • Avatar

                wright_is

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                I think it is a case of different cultures. In Europe there is still a big culture that find debt embarrassing and only buy things when they have the money. They guard their privacy. Many would rather pay for a service, rather than give them personal information to sell.

                This is especially true in cities like Germany, where the East Germans lived under the Staatssicherheit, which had shoes everywhere and thick dossiers on every citizen. You could never be sure who was spying on you, your parents, your children, your best friend, teachers, colleagues at work...

                It isn't really a suprise that nobody wants information about them floating round without their control

                • Avatar

                  hrlngrv

                  In reply to wright_is:

                  There are no merchant banks in the EU based on receiving interest on loans and paying interest in deposits?

                  OTOH, thanks for confirming the EU is fighting the last war.

                • Avatar

                  skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  The US has a long history of fighting the last war too. Nearly every tin-pot dictator has been seen to be the next Hitler resulting in many unnecessary military actions on our part.

        • Avatar

          skane2600

          In reply to wright_is:

          I'm not sure what the implications are for WhatsApp being declared illegal in the EU. I have a relative here in the US traveling to Europe this summer and we were planning to use WhatsApp via WiFi to communicated without having to deal with cell phone incompatibilities. Do you know if they'll be able to use WhatsApp if it's already installed?

          • Avatar

            wright_is

            In reply to skane2600:

            At the moment the data protection commissioner has just said that using it is a breach of DP law, if you let it upload your contacts.

            That said, you aren't European, so it is probably ok. It also hasn't been brought before a court, so it is just theoretical at this point.

            Alternatively think about using Signal or Threema. Signal is the underlying protocol for WhatsApp and is open source.

            • Avatar

              skane2600

              In reply to wright_is:

              Thanks for the info! Unfortunately since we have Windows phones we can't use Signal and although Threema supports WP, it doesn't support it for voice calls. But when I inevitably transition away from WP, I'll keep these apps in mind.

  6. Avatar

    SherlockHolmes

    I didnt count how many times someone predicted the end of Microsoft or the end of the desktop PC. It wont happen this time either.

    • Avatar

      Jules Wombat

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      No one is claiming an end to the desktop, simply that it is being diminished to platform for hosting a client against cloud services. The major compute is returning to the cloud (as previously were Mainframe computers). PWAs, Browsers Office 365 are just the start.

      And yes many people do 'serious work' in Office 365, Google Doc s etc.

      • Avatar

        SherlockHolmes

        In reply to Jules_Wombat:

        i dont really know why i answer to guys like you. Your answer wasnt to thepoint I mad to hrlngrv´s answer. You are just repeating your opinion.

      • Avatar

        hrlngrv

        In reply to Jules_Wombat:

        . . . many people do 'serious work' in Office 365, Google Doc s etc.

        Some people even do serious work without a spreadsheet or wordprocessor. Whether serious work could be done with presentation software is a question for philosophers.

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Some people even do serious work without a spreadsheet or wordprocessor. Whether serious work could be done with presentation software is a question for philosophers.

          Agreed. In many companies I've dealt with, the average desktop user has email and the corporate ERP system installed on their PC and that's all they get. They don't need "Office" to do their job, they often don't even need the Internet (web browser) to do their job, they spend their day doing work and punching results into the ERP system - or checking the automatic capture of the ERP system is correct as they do their work.

    • Avatar

      hrlngrv

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      Certainly not before I retire, maybe not before you retire either. And as IBM still sells zSeries mainframes, some manufacturers will still be selling microcomputers decades from now.

      However, now that there's wifi on commercial flights, passenger and commuter trains and even some commuter buses (granted too often with flaky connections, but that's going to improve over time), the only remaining gaps for online computing are private autos moving through regions with fewer than 10 people per square mile (OK, maybe 3/4 of the US west of the Mississippi River).

      Circumstances are changing. In the long term economics favors recentralizing computing. Immanently? No. Within a decade? Probably not. Within 2 decades? Hmmm. By 2050? Computing by then may look as much like computing today as computing today looks like computing in the early 1970s. The original microcomputers of the late 1970s came about because processors were way further along than networking, and a TRS-80 or even an original IBM PC were better in almost every sense than paying for a 2nd phone line for a 110 baud connection, a TTY terminal and a time sharing service. In the last 40 years networking has caught up with processors. That will change computing.

      • Avatar

        SherlockHolmes

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I dont understand how someone can use a cellphone or tablet to do serious work. Im not that kind of a guy. And gamers and even developers arent too. There will be always a group of people who do work on a fully grown PC or laptop.

        • Avatar

          hrlngrv

          In reply to SherlockHolmes:

          I dont understand how someone can use a cellphone or tablet to do serious work. . . .

          If that phone or tablet could be connected to monitor, keyboard and mouse either wirelessly or with a small and inexpensive extra piece of hardware, that's one way. Besides, many people would still use clamshell laptops, just with simpler OSes, perhaps simpler than Chromebooks today.

          • Avatar

            skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            When this point is brought up I always think of physicist Richard Feynman's story about the painter who claimed he could make yellow paint by mixing white and red. The painter kept trying to make it work, but the result was always pink. Finally in frustration he said: "Hm, I'll just add some yellow paint, to sharpen it up, and then it'll be yellow". "Aha!" said Feynman, "Sure you can get yellow if you add yellow!"


            You can make a cell phone closer to a productive computing environment if you add the elements (the yellow) that make a PC a PC.


            When people question the viability of using a cell phone for serious work they're talking about using it under the conditions that match a cell phone's fundamental characteristic- mobility. The solution for having a powerful computing device that doesn't fit in your pocket is already solved by PCs/Macs and their laptop equivalents.

            • Avatar

              hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              I was focusing more on the processor and local computing capacity vs serving as a thin client for online services or remote desktops. Phones can serve as thin clients. OTOH, for productive I/O, phones suck.

              Thinking about what my father used in his working life as a lawyer, I figure phones would make adequate dictation machines. If there were an HP-12C emulator app, that plus the phone itself qua phone would have given him all the devices he used.

              Back to the point, I/O devices matter. Some white collar jobs may only need a phone. I don't have such a job, and I don't know anyone who does. (Closest may be the professional photographer who lives 5 houses away, but is that white collar?)

              I'd argue that we're heading to a time in which only the I/O hardware matters, but the device or device innards used to connect that I/O hardware to a processor able to run nontrivial software may not matter as much.

          • Avatar

            wright_is

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            We use Intel NUCs at work, with dual 24" monitors or 4K monitors, using PXE-Boot to launch a base GNU/Linux image with X installed, but no applications, it then attaches to the Linux terminal server in the computer room.

            There are a few jobs that can be done from a phone or tablet sized device - stall management at a slaughter house, for example, for keeping track of the time animals have been there, have they received their last feed? Are they rested? Do they have any injuries? And other legally required animal welfare information. Sales representatives can use them for showing off products in multimedia catalogues and take orders and post them to the corporate ERP system on the move, this is easier than doing it with a laptop.

            On the other hand, most office workers have a permanent workspace and that is decked out with monitor(s), a decent keyboard and mouse and either a docking station for a laptop or a desktop PC or thin client. At the current time, the smartphone more-or-less replaces a thinclient when attached to that dock (due to processing power and legacy applications). Only the thin client is a lot cheaper to provide to hundreds of users than a corporate smartphone with the relevant security profile and is more easily managed (the user can't load anything on it, if they tried). They then log onto the locked down corporate desktop, running on some server somewhere.

            For mobile workers, who have to be in contact all the time, that is a different matter. They usually need a smartphone and a laptop.

  7. Avatar

    Paul Thurrott

    Hopefully, you're OK that I corrected the "Wondows" misspelling in the title.

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