Back to the ’90s – Bye PC, welcome back thin clients

In the ’90s, you had a large machine and several thin clients accessing it by using X11 via network. In 2010, you will have large datacenters providing applications to and storing the data of millions of users. As you might have guessed, I am talking about Google Chrome OS.

It seems that the PC era is slowly coming to an end, with devices being increasingly connected ‘to the cloud’ and people being always online; and storing their data on Google’s servers. We do emails online using Google Mail, we do navigation online using Google Maps, we edit and view our documents using Google Docs, our newspaper is Google News; and when we want entertainment we open the browser and type youtube.com into the URL bar. Even if we were formatting the hard disk and reinstalling the system, most people wouldn’t even notice; because all there data is stored online.

There is also the question of freedom. Free software is not very widespread in the SaaS world. You also lose the control over your data. But RMS can tell you more about it.

So it seems that 2010, Google is the new mainframe and netbooks and smartphones are the new terminals. Whether this is good or not cannot be said. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you can trust Google to keep your data secure or not. I trust them enough to host all of my emails, the RSS feeds I read, my searches.

7 thoughts on “Back to the ’90s – Bye PC, welcome back thin clients

  1. Google is a new kind of company.

    They are not IBM, MS or Apple. They know that if they betray the users trust or give infos to the wrong people (they denied german authorities access to users email) users might retaliate and move to Bing or whatever. They want to all our data to compute targeted ads .. I have adblock and don’t really care😉

    So I still think no company really likes me, but Google is better than the rest.

    If Chrome OS netbooks are cheap enough and really only have FOSS drivers I will tell my friends and family to buy them.

  2. No, I do not use GMail, do not use Google Maps (which are crap anyway) and do not use Google Docs. And nothing will convince me to use these.
    Google is for web searches and that’s all.

  3. I don’t think too many people going to be happy when they find out Chrome OS going to require new hardware purchases….starting with SSDs which are not cheap and the prices will stay high if Google gets in bed with the hardware sellers.

  4. Notme,
    You can compile it and boot it off of a USB thumb drive. Google is targeting new hardware of certain specs, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it with your old hardware if it’s supported.

    Google does a good job of keeping my data available. They just recently added a method to back up all Google Docs with a single operation. (You could always do twenty at a time, but that can get painful if there are hundreds.) Google allows you to export blogs, notebooks, mail, contacts … basically everything. My data is mine.

    Thin clients were always a good idea when the network and servers were capable of keeping up. A lot of places are good on that front. A lot still aren’t, but the number is smaller every day. In addition, the web app model is moving further from thin and closer to client-server as the apps get more dynamic. The app is loaded once (or is cached).

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