The Future of Mac OSPosted: February 24, 2011
Came across an interesting post on TUAW today:
Some advantages of the newly integrated suite of server administrative software include a guided setup process for configuring a Mac as a server; “local and remote administration – for users and groups, push notifications, file sharing, calendaring, mail, contacts, chat, Time Machine, VPN, web, and wiki services – all in one place”; “simple, profile-based setup and management for Mac OS X Lion, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices” with Profile Manager; Wiki Server 3, designed to make it “even easier to collaborate, share, and exchange information”; and WebDAV services that give iPad users “the ability to [wirelessly] access, copy, and share documents on the server from applications such as Keynote, Numbers, and Pages.”
What we’re seeing is a paradigm shift in home computer usage. More and more people are shifting away from traditional desktop configurations for their everyday computing and adopting the iPad as their primary method of getting access to the information they want. This as inevitable as it is surprising. Inevitable, because mobile computers have increasingly become the focal point of the technology world; surprising, because it happened so fast and so definitively. I need more than the fingers on my hands to count the number of people who use the iPad as their primary computer. As they become more powerful and ever more portable, that number will increase.
iPad sales have also been staggering, especially when compared to other manufacturers (HP, Samsung), and has captured huge percentages of the market (even markets that don’t even really belong to it). Hence, people are starting to wonder if it makes sense to even own a computer if this sort of thing starts becoming the norm.
Unfortunately, the iPad still needs to sync to something, and this something is quickly changing into less of a computing device and more of a server. The fact that Lion (Mac OS 10.7) will essentially allow any Mac owner to function as a server is quite interesting, and I believe it shows Apple’s future plans under the surface.
Apple likes Mac OS, and believes that it will survive for a long, long time. I agree with this, but I believe that the Mac OS will shift subtly away from its current place as the OS that people see to the OS that works under the surface. It’s a powerful statement about the future roles of the “computer” and “user.” In Apple’s future, the “computer” should be invisible, providing a means for people to access what they need, when they need it. The “user” simply gets access to what he or she wants through one of the many pipelines that transfer his or her data.
This is a trend that I have been participating in for a while, through apps like Simplify (RIP) and now Audiogalaxy, LogMeIn, and Air Sharing. The whole idea is that my iPad serves as a window/portal to everything that I may need.
Introducing a “server” option to a standard install of Mac OS Lion is Apple telling the world that soon, the computer they have sitting in the den will grow wings and live in the cloud.