There is a NYTimes story today on the rise of “cloud computers” and net-tops like the Asus EEE. I have called them Fireboxes in the past myself, but cloud computer would work! Here are some reasons I think why this trend is inevitable.
1. Convenience: On any kind of decent broadband connection, launching a cloud application is faster than launching the desktop equivalent.The fact that you could do that from just about any machine is icing on the cake. On a regular basis, I now work from 4 different machines: 2 desktops and 2 laptops (see reason 3 why).
2. Lazy Computing: flossing teeth, backing up files – I don’t want to diss those oh-so-disciplined folks who do these regularly, but alas, I am not one of them. My single biggest reason for switching to cloud applications is that I never have to do a backup ever again – that’s what data center administrators are for. I was reminded of it twice recently, because two laptops decided to crash on me suddenly. That brings up the third point.
3. Resurrection of old computers: I actually like to use old computers. Partly it is to force myself to experience our own software in fairly challenging circumstances. The reason reason is that there are plenty of unwanted old computers around, so using old machines you are always in a state of super-abundance. In fact, one of my laptops is a “loaner” from a friend who was going to send it for recycling – Firefox works great on that one!
One consequence of using older computers is I encounter frequent crashes. But it is not just old computers that crash. Last week, a brand new loaner given to me by our sysadmins in our Chennai office had a disk crash too. Since I don’t store anything on the local machine, it was a 2 minute operation to swap it with another laptop and I was on the cloud again.
Try moving yourself to the cloud entirely. I bet you won’t ever go back!
(Update: Just after I posted this, I find that Mike Arrington wants a dead simple web tablet. I would love to buy one too!)