“Windows is better, you Mac people are morons” or “Mac OS X is the single greatest operating system in history, and you’re stupid for thinking otherwise” or “shut up, all of you, and install Linux. Now“.
Stop the flame war. It matters less and less every year what operating system you use, because every year we all spend more time on our computer using nothing but the browser. And browsers are cross-platform.
Want to have an argument about which systems are better? You really should be arguing about browsers, because they are now what matters most. In a web app world, most software works with every operating system, making your choice of systems less and less important.
What Do You Do On Your Computer?
What’s the first piece of software you start on you computer? If you’re anything like me, it’s your web browser. You open your (web-based) email, then perhaps check the news or your social networks. Only once you’re done with this routine do you move on to using other software for work-related things. But even then, more and more of these work-related things can be done in a browser alone.
And more of them are being done in the browser.
When Google Docs launched, many in the technology press thought it a curiosity. Why would people stop using their beloved Microsoft Office programs, which run on their computer under their control, for a web-based program? Surely Microsoft will dominate the Office sphere forever?
Five years later Microsoft hopes to keep dominating, so they launched Microsoft Office web apps. It was a necessary move: for its instant collaboration and ease of use. The fact that Microsoft felt the need to offer a version of Office, a very profitable product, for free, tells us a lot about the future of computing.
The Web App Future
The future is one of web apps. Whether you want to edit images or use QuickBooks, an increasing number of things that were previously only possible in Windows are now possible on any computer with a web browser. Heck, even your music collection is accessible from your browser now, thanks to Google Music and services like it.
Take a look at the MakeUseOf list of the best web apps. You can find a web application to do just about anything you spend time offline doing now. If you can’t, rest assured that someone is developing a web tool for the job, and we’ll use those web tools. As with Google Docs, we’ll appreciate the ease of collaboration. We’ll like that we don’t have to install software updates constantly, and that we can switch computers without disrupting our workflow. We will like that information is backed up automatically, so that hardware disasters cost us only money and not data.
Simply put: web software is easier, and people like that.
Jumping Between Systems
The more of your computing life you put on the cloud, the less you notice when you switch between operating systems. I regularly switch between Ubuntu Linux, Mac OS X and Windows 7, heck, sometimes I even use Windows XP. Asethetics aside, I barely notice which operating system I’m using anymore. I open a web browser and I get to work.
What about you? Is more of your computing life moving from desktop programs to your browser? Do you regularly switch computers without missing a beat? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to recommend some more great web apps.
Image from XKCD, which you really should be reading regularly if you aren’t.