Writing in ZDnet.com, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has an interesting article. Well, it was interesting to me, and I suspect anyone else interested in the future of computing will enjoy reading it also. Vaughan-Nichols points out that the number of Windows XP computers has now slipped to slightly under 50% of all installed personal computers. Windows Vista remains steady at 10% and Windows 7 has edged up slightly to about 28% of the market. The small remaining percentages comprise Macintosh OS X plus a tiny handful of people who use Linux.
So which of these operating systems will dominate in the future? Vaughan-Nichols predicts that none of them will be the marketplace leader. Instead, he believes that all versions of Windows, Macintosh, and Linux will slowly lose ground. Vaughan-Nichols writes, "It’s the tablet and smartphone users who are really pointing the way to the end-user operating system future."
He also points to a recent, very informal survey he conducted at a local coffee shop. During a his visit, Vaughan-Nichols found the customers were using two Windows 7 laptops, one Windows XP laptop, eight Macintosh laptops, one Samsung Chromebook, three iPads, one Galaxy Tab, and a variety of "smartphone" cell phones to access email and surf the web or to perform other chores while sipping coffee.
Vaughan-Nichols predicts, "In 2021, we won’t be comparing Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as much as we will be Apple iOS; Google Android; HP webOS; other Linux-based mobile operating system such as MeeGo; and, possibly, Windows 8."
You can read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols' article at http://goo.gl/Cwrct.
If Vaughan-Nichols is correct, this change in technology will have a major impact on genealogy software. If you have been watching this newsletter for the past few years, you may have noticed that fewer and fewer announcements of new genealogy software for desktop and laptop computers have been published in recent years. To be sure, the existing products are selling well, and the present vendors often release new versions with additional features. However, when was the last time you read the announcement of a brand-new genealogy program being announced for Windows or Macintosh?
NOTE: Actually, there have been a couple; but, the newly-released products haven't made much of a dent in the marketplace.
The big growth in genealogy software in the past two or three years has been two-fold: (1.) software that runs in a tablet or smartphone, and (2.) cloud-based software that runs on a distant web server and can be accessed by desktop, laptop and handheld computers alike, including smartphones.
Almost all announcements of brand-new genealogy software in the past two or three years has been for cloud-based systems or for handheld systems. I suspect this trend will continue and become much larger than what we see today.
My preference is for cloud-based systems. I can sit at home, using a desktop or laptop system, and perform all data entry on a full-sized keyboard. I can scan photographs, original documents, maps, and more, and add those to the database. However, the information remains with me when I travel to genealogy conventions, attend family reunions, or visit a cousin.
Thanks to wireless networking now available most everywhere, I can look at my database and even view family photographs wherever I am. I always have my cell phone with me and often have a tablet computer during longer trips. The physical location of my data is unimportant. In fact, I prefer my information to be housed in professionally-managed, cloud-based data centers, where it is duplicated and backed up without my involvement. In a cloud-based system that I control, I can share my information with others or not, as I wish.
I believe the future of genealogy computing is in the cloud. The methods we use to access that information will be interesting, but of secondary importance. In fact, I suspect that most genealogists will use two or even more methods to access their personal information, depending upon whatever method is most convenient at the moment.
This change has already started. In fact, it started two or three years ago and is steadily increasing. The handheld and cloud-based systems won't “take over” immediately, but I do believe they will slowly continue to grow in popularity. My belief is that, ten years from now, we won't care where our data is located as long is it is available to each of us, whenever and wherever we happen to be at the moment. No longer will any of us say, “I'll look that up when I return home.”
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