Mittwoch, 29. Juni 2011

Call for content creation OSes

This article is about me and people like me, therefore I would like to introduce myself: I'm an engineer, work in an EDA company, where I design different chips. At my working place I used to have a Unix-workstation couple of years ago, now I have a Windows laptop connected to a powerful server grid (call it a cloud if you want) over Citrix connection for the reasons described here. In my office people call me progressive because I'm using Java Desktop System for my work and not CDE as most of my colleagues. Computer for us engineers is a tool to get the job done, it must be fast, stable and run all the software which can cost up to $1.000.000 US per seat / year.

At home I'm a Mac guy since MacOS X 10.1. There was a time when I really wished that at some point MacOSX would be supported by the EDA software, that was a time when Maya was ported to OS X, when AutoCAD for Mac appeared and some of other engineering tools were ported to Mac. Apple positioned MacOS X as UNIX OS with supported XWindows port, with open-source Darwin core, with FreeBSD userland, with OpenGL, first citizen Java VM and so on. Now latest with introduction of Lion there is absolutely no point in porting professional software to MacOS X. From content creation OS it now becomes a content consumer OS. As I wrote one year ago there should be a differentiation between content creation OS and content consumption OS. Content consumption OS should run on a variety of fast booting, network centric, often mobile devices, it must offer easy access to different media, free or commercial, offer unified messaging, have interfaces to different social networks, must sync with other devices and must be dead simple to use. Software, which runs on content consumption OSes, should be flexible enough to run on variety of devices, which may have different screen sizes or input methods. Often these devices are connected to cloud, where media and personal data is saved. One of the main applications is a powerful browser with support for the latest standards like HTML5 and WebGL. The applications and media are provided through a store.

With introduction of Lion and Win8 Apple and Microsoft are heading exactly in direction of consumer OS. It's understandable business decision, 90% of users are consuming media, only 10% are creating. Application and media stores, cloud offerings bring revenue after the sale of the OS. At the end it's fancy, pads, smartphones are selling like crazy, social networking and digital media distribution is all the rage, lot of office applications are moving into web, so some office workers don't need a powerful PC any more and are happy with devices with consumer OSes.

But what about content creators? People who used to have workstations, MCAD users, DTP-professionals, 3D-content creators, architects, geologists, biologists and other scientists? Do they really need an application store? Their software has completely different sales model, than through an application store. How do they update their Mac at work to Lion? Will every employee need an AppleID and put $29 for Lion update on private expenses? Have you read what Apple says about new UNIX features in Lion? How will professional programs benefit from iCloud, from Auto Save (saving of huge databases might take several seconds and block the user from working)? We don't know much about Win8 yet, but for sure none of professional CAD applications will use JavaScript and HTML5 or Silverlight or XNA for designing of their UI. All these techniques make sense in order to easy port of applications to pads or smartphones, but does anyone need Catia on pad?

So after differentiation between server and desktop OSes, now it is time for differentiation between content creation and content consumption OSes. The aims of the OSes and user groups are too different, so that one OS can fit all needs. Linux world shows how it should be, while Ubuntu seems to target consumers, RedHat Enterprise distros are heading toward professional user. The same should be the case for Windows and MacOS. I don't see lot of chances for MacOSX, Apple stopped to care about the professional users couple of years ago, but Microsoft really should rethink if they should establish an extra line for Windows for Professionals, which is not intended to merge with pads and smartphones, but will remain a powerful, stable OS for power users without lot of experiments on UI and programming models.

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