The OS future

Windows 8 has been unveiled, OSx is Roaring, and Ubuntu is trying to create a Unity. These new OS’s give us a peek at the future, but what does it really say?

Over on ZDNet Ed Bott wrote a nice article on Windows 8. I’m not going to go into it in detail, but the Article and the screen shots got me to thinking, what is the future of the Operating Systems in general? Ubuntu and Windows have come up with new GUIs, and they are different. Geared toward simplifying navigation, are these becoming too simple? Are we getting to the point of making something that a fool can use, and only a fool will use it?

I am not against change, as long as there is a good reason for it. Making a GUI more user friendly is not a bad thing. The big problems I have with the way Ubuntu, and now Windows are going about it though worries me from a support standpoint. How much more difficult is it becoming to find the deep areas that those of us who do troubleshoot machines use? How much more training will we need? How will this affect how people use the OS in a business environment?

The OS that has changed the least in GUI appearance over the years is Macintosh. The basic layout, and where you find things has been essentially the same going back to its beginning, with just some upgrades to that classic look and feel. Apple boasts about how easy it is to use a Mac, and from an OS standpoint, they are right. You don’t have to learn a new GUI with every update. You have your bar up top which allows for the classic drop down menus. They added the dock at the bottom, but you don’t have to use it.

Unity, the new look kills off the classic menu structures to get at your programs. It takes more clicks to find something that is not docked. The more elegant look actually becomes more complex. When you log into the OS, you can choose to go back to the Classic look, but it is not prevalent on how to, although it is simple if you know where to look. Still, the more complex sets of clicks to find an installed program can be a big hindrance to acceptance. Also realize the look doesn’t add anything to security.

Windows 8 poses a bigger question. With it being meant for touch screen, although you can use a mouse and keyboard, and the look and feel being more toward Microsoft’s phone OS, how is this going to complicate finding files, finding software you install? The desktop space is a premium but, as we all know, you put too much there it becomes hard to find what you are looking for. Also what about software that is not on the desktop? How about file exploring especially if you are on a network where items are kept on multiple network drives?

These questions, and where the companies want to steer the computing world are really what will shape the future, and also cause problems. Too much change at once is not good, and change for its own sake usually causes more problems than its worth. Only time will tell what the answers are but, from first glance, it seems as if making the look the same across all platforms is happening, and from there, maybe you get into a situation like Chrome OS, where it is basically a browser, and nothing is kept locally. If that is the case, you can port your GUI look across multiple devices easy, but then who owns your information since it will not be stored locally? Its something to think about.

And one more thing…

Apple, a company you either love or hate. Its about as black and white as one can get. Now they really have a chance to make some good changes to their culture, but they won’t.

When Apple was founded, the computer world was a simpler place. Young people just wanted to be able to play, to work on these new machines. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created a company that fed into those dreams, helping define an era. Having an Apple II machine was hip, it was cool, and it was around $1000-$1500 to get one. Most of its competitors cost around the same, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. You could purchase or write your own programs, and do what you wanted to with the system.

Somewhere along the way, after Woz left, Apple’s vision started changing. They came out with the Macintosh which was an amazing little machine. A machine that started to really open the world of computers to more people. A machine that would redefine Apple. Who can forget the Orwellian Ad that they came up with for the Mac. Funny how prophetic that would be.

Steve Jobs always had a great mind for marketing and a brilliant mind for ideas. Some over the years would stick, some wouldn’t. He got removed for Apple, sold all but one of his shares, and eventually through the means of  mergers and acquisitions wound up back in charge of the company he had founded. He brought them back from the brink with a savvy set of ideas that pushed the envelope not in computing, but in consumer electronics.

Jobs also took the paranoia he got from his original ouster to an extreme. While Mac is a good, and solid system, and pretty easy to use, the helped create fallacies around it, from the level of its security to the ease of its use. He also locked the system down tighter than Fort Knox. Same with the iPhone and iPad. Locking down these systems not only gives Apple more control over the device and the data but creates a problem for consumers from a pricing standpoint. The lack of competition helped Apple become the 2nd largest company in the United States, only behind Exxon Mobile. It also gave Apple another item at its disposal, the lawsuit.

Apple is as much a company now that is anti-competitive as Microsoft was back in the 90’s. Its biggest rival is Google, who is just as closed minded and stupid about things as Apple is. Both companies claim to have the consumers best interests at heart. Apple looks at any competing product and immediately tries to find what it can sue over. This is not in the best interests of the consumer.

With Steve Jobs stepping away from the CEO position to Chairman of the Board, he still has a great influence over Apple, its products, its direction. Tim Cook could try to open things up, but won’t. The consumer friendly company that was the little engine that could is gone. They are a company that wants, like Google, to tell you how to do things. They don’t care about what you think. This is why they have been referred to as a cult over the years. Just like Scientology, Jonestown, the KKK and many others over the years, the ultimate goal is to control you and make you bend to their will.

Steve, thank you for all you have done to forward technology, but your controlling and paranoid thoughts, I won’t miss.



Apple, how secure are you?

We all know that Mac fanatics claim how secure Mac OSX is. Is it really that secure though?

The last couple of months have not bee kind to OSX. The Mac operating system has seen its first round of widespread malware. Apple has been busy playing whack-a-mole trying to stop it. The Mac fanbois have been denying it. Apple is still more secure they claim. If this is true, then how did Apple top the Stack of Shame this week?

The reality of the situation is that Apple is entering uncharted territory for OSX. Not only does it have enough percentage of the market to make it a more viable target for the underground Internet, but it doesn’t have a true plan in dealing with such issues. This was shown by Apple’s response to the MacDefender malware. The denials, the bad press, and finally a solution that keeps getting circumvented. Yes, overall the amount of people infected might be small beans, but it is a larger outbreak than ever before, plus it shows that it can be done.

The next question comes in with these 26 vulnerabilities, how quickly will they be patched? That is the key to preventing exploitation of said holes. Is Apple ready to do monthly patches, weekly patches, out of band patches? How will they respond to all of this?

No Operation system is 100% secure. There is too much code, too many different vectors to attack from, and there is always the end user who is the biggest threat to security. Apple response to the OSX security issues should enlighten us to the iOS plans for security issues. No, there aren’t many now, but there will be.