If you have been following the stories recently in this newsletter, you will know that quite a few of them revolve around genealogy applications on handheld computers. These devices include cell phones (or so-called "smartphones), tablet computers (such as the iPad), and handheld computing devices, such as the iPod Touch. I have long felt these represent the wave of the future. Apparently, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer agrees.
Speaking at a the Houston Technology Center luncheon in Union Square in Houston's Minute Maid Park, Ballmer told the audience, "Don't get too used to the way Windows looks." Ballmer says he figures the Windows operating system found on most PCs right now will look a whole lot different in just five years time.
Windows "will look a lot different and it will run different applications," he said.
This expected evolution may have a lot to do with the proliferation of tablet PCs and touch screen displays. It's been said that the next version of Windows, tentatively called Windows 8, will be built from the ground-up with these kinds of technologies in mind. Of course, Apple is already in the lead with these new technologies and Google's new Android operating system is not far behind. Microsoft has found itself in unfamiliar territory: that of being third in what is undoubtedly the fastest-growing segment of the technology world.
Today's handheld operating systems are still quite primitive in comparison to the more developed products already available for desktop and laptop computers. However, technology products can change rapidly in a very few years, as Steve Ballmer pointed out. At the same luncheon, Ballmer said, "By 1997, Apple was almost bankrupt. Now, Apple has turned itself around quite nicely. You see, you can come, go, come and go, and come again."
I suspect the next five years are going to be very interesting for computer manufacturers and their customers. Not only will hardware and software change, but high-speed wireless networks are also becoming commonplace as prices are dropping. Cloud computing is an every-day reality and every tiny smartphone can access terabytes of information within seconds.
Can you imagine what the genealogy software of 2016 will be like?