The Cloud Is Meaningless to People Tied to Analog Modems

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-10-25 Print this article Print

So while Ray Ozzie may think that the future is cloud-based services and appliance-like devices, he's clearly wrong if he's thinking about the world outside the Seattle suburbs. This is why rural broadband is a priority for the FCC. Even in the United States, vast expanses of rural areas simply don't have access to broadband, and without broadband, the cloud is a meaningless term. Likewise, in large reaches of our cities, the broadband providers redline certain neighborhoods that they don't think will be sufficiently profitable. 

Outside the United States, the situation is even farther from the cloud. Social networking in India, where broadband availability is rare, is largely done using an SMS-based service that avoids the Internet almost entirely. 

Meanwhile, back in the world of Windows, users from individuals to small businesses are coping with the requirement to upgrade from the Windows XP systems they could afford to Windows 7, which may well require a new computer they can't afford. For that 60 percent of computer users stuck with Windows XP, a launch of Windows 8 is pointless. 

In that other class of users that we write about more often here in eWEEK, the enterprise users, the struggle to move to Windows 7 also continues. Relatively few business users made the transition to Windows Vista, and that means they now have to deal with a significant upgrade hassle to move to Winodws 7. 

While many business users seem to believe that the move to Windows 7 is worth doing, for many it's affordable only if they have to replace a computer anyway. Microsoft has made the upgrade process difficult unless you buy something like PCMover from LapLink, and even with that it's sufficiently complex that a companywide migration is non-trivial.

What needs to exist is a way to lower the pain for users, and thus the risk for Microsoft. While Windows 7 has proven to be popular, the huge volume of users that simply can't upgrade will limit its popularity.  

Unfortunately for Microsoft, you can't just assume that people will eventually buy new computers. So instead, how about a new release that Microsoft calls Windows 7.5, that includes a realistic means of upgrading machines with Windows XP, and that will run on those older computers. While it won't be as lucrative as getting everyone to suddenly move to Windows 8, that would never happen anyway. So why not make it easy for more people to move to Windows 7?

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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