It is Now Official: Say Goodbye To Your Windows PC As You Know It

NOTE: This article is not about genealogy, but I suspect many Windows users will be interested in it. If you are looking for true genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one.

In the July 30, 2018, edition of this newsletter, I predicted:

“Huge changes are coming from Microsoft. A new rumor is going around that claims Microsoft is switching from SELLING Windows to RENTING it instead. Some users think it will be an improvement while others believe it will be a major step backwards to computing in the way it was done in the 1970s when very expensive mainframes did all the computing and all data input and output by humans was done by using remote ‘dumb terminals.’

“Microsoft is getting ready to replace Windows 10 with the Microsoft Managed Desktop. This will be a “desktop-as-a-service” (DaaS) offering. Instead of owning your own copy of Windows, you’ll “rent” Windows by the month.”

Microsoft made my prediction come true this week. Microsoft has now rolled out Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). If you have a fast internet connection, you can run your desktop off WVD today.

Starting now, you no longer need to own a PC with Microsoft Windows installed. Instead, you can “run” Windows 10 on a Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, iPad, or Android tablet.

OK, you don’t really “run” windows on the other systems as much as you ACCESS Windows from almost any computer. That is a critical difference. All you need on these other systems is a web browser, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, or probably any of the other web browsers.

Microsoft has been testing Windows Virtual Desktop (or WVD) for some time and now has released the application to everyone. Windows Virtual Desktop is a perfect example of a cloud-based application: the primary program (Windows 10) actually runs in multiple data centers located anywhere in the world. Not only is the operating system running in remote servers but the default operation runs all your programs (Word, Excel, email, games, and much more) in the same servers. Optionally, your files also can be stored either in the cloud or in your own local computing device, whether that local computer is a Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, iPad, Android, or some other computer.

With WVD (Windows Virtual Desktop), you type on your local computer’s keyboard, use the local mouse, and view all the activity on your local computer’s screen. However, the local screen simply serves as a “window” into the software running on remote servers in the cloud.

As Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, said, “Companies want to move this to the cloud. And WVD is really the only way to run real Windows 10 clients, multiuser, in the public cloud.”

I have heard many Windows users claim, “Oh, I could never use a [Mac, Linux desktop, Chromebook or whatever] because it doesn’t run my favorite Windows-only program.” That argument has disappeared. Now almost any computer can access Windows programs. Using WVD, you can run your Windows apps on ChromeOS, Linux, macOS, Android, or an iPad.

Why would Microsoft do this?

I can think of several reasons. However, I suspect one of the major motivations is the fact that Microsoft undoubtedly has been watching the success of Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems. Millions of these devices are being sold every year and we can assume most of those sales were to individuals, schools, and corporations who purchased a Chromebook or Chromebox system instead of a Windows system. (I doubt if many people purchase a Chromebook or Chromebox system instead of a Macintosh.)

Every sale of a Chromebook or Chromebox system represents the loss of a sale of a new Windows system. That means millions of dollars in lost revenue for Microsoft.

Part of the success of Chromebook and Chromebox systems is (1.) low prices and (2.) operating system simplicity and (3.) the fact that Chromebook and Chromebox systems never get viruses and (4.) the fact that Chromebook and Chromebox systems have a default of running applications in the cloud. (Today’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems also can run programs installed internally but that doesn’t seem to be as popular.)

Since Microsoft has experienced a significant loss in revenue due to competition from Chromebook and Chromebox systems, the company’s senior executives undoubtedly said to themselves, “We can do that too!”

I am sure that much of the motivation for Microsoft to add the capability of running cloud-based Windows applications is because of competitive pressures from Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems.

As you might expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to this cloud-based operation. Here are a few things I can think of:

Advantages:

Lower costs – Instead of purchasing a high-powered and expensive PC to perform heavy-duty computing, you simply rent time on some very powerful servers located elsewhere and access them ny using Microsoft’s WVD in your local computer, even if it is a non-Microsoft computer. The amount of savings will vary widely, depending upon your needs. For instance, if you need to use an engineering CAD/CAM program (computer-aided design & computer-aided manufacturing) only occasionally, it seems senseless to spend $2,000 or more for a high-powered Windows workstation that is only used occasionally. Instead, use a low-powered and inexpensive Chromebook or iPad or some similar computing device in your home or office with WVD to access high-powered servers in the cloud and only pay for the number of hours used. The results will be the same except for significant money savings.

Use almost any computer to access Windows 10 – The WVD client app is available for Windows as well as Macintosh, Android, Apple iOS (iPad), Chromebook, and any other web browser capable of running an HTML 5 web browser. All modern web browsers are HTML 5 capable. This means you can “run” Windows via most of the popular desktop browsers.

Automatic software updates – There will be no need to install Windows software updates. Support personnel in the various cloud-based data centers will install all Windows operating system updates for you as well as updates for Microsoft products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote, and many more applications). In most cases, the end user will still be responsible for updates to applications written by other companies, however.

Reduced risk of viruses – The operating system is maintained by Microsoft’s experts, reducing your risk of viruses and similar problems. The risk is not entirely eliminated, however, especially for programs installed by you, the user.

Essentially infinite disk space – Since everything can run in the cloud, you can store as many files as you wish. Disk space should never be a problem in the cloud. It also will be far more convenient than installing disk drives into your local computer. You obviously will need to pay for the rental of that disk space; but, in most cases, that will be cheaper than purchasing your own disk drive(s). Using WVD probably will also be much more convenient and cheaper than replacing your own local disk drive(s) after a hardware failure.

Backups are automatic – Files stored in the cloud are also backed up automatically all the time. Even if the cloud-based service suffers hardware failures, your files can be restored quickly by the system support experts employed by the cloud service. In most cases, the end user will never know there was a hardware failure; he or she simply accesses everything in the same manner as always.

NOTE: Storage of files in the cloud will be optional: you also can store files in your local computer, should you wish to do so. Should you elect to store files locally, you will be responsible for making your own backups of those files.

Disadvantages:

An “always on” internet connection will be required – This won’t be much of a problem in most homes and offices, but it may be an impediment when traveling. Not all airplanes, commuter trains, hotels, coffee shops, parks, or open spaces have wi-fi or cost-effective cellular or satellite connections available today. That certainly is changing, but wireless connections will not be available everywhere for a few more years. By the time all Windows users are forced to move to WVD, wireless access will probably be commonly available in 99% of the homes, offices, and other locations.

Speed – A fast Internet connection will be necessary in order to enjoy a “smooth operation.” A slow connection will result in slow performance and “jerkiness” as delays are encountered.

Issues with peripherals – While the keyboard, mouse, and screen on your your local computing device should work perfectly, what about scanners or other hardware devices or connections to a tablet computer, smartwatch, Kindle, flash drive, or other devices that usually connect via USB? All of these connections probably will be easy to use someday, but not as simple while WVD is still in its infancy.

Pricing – Using a cloud-based operating system may be either cheaper or more expensive than purchasing your own hardware and operating system. Pricing for the new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) may be found at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/virtual-desktop/. The pricing schedule is complicated, but it can be as cheap as $0.004/hour US (four-tenths of one cent per hour for low-powered and low-usage) as listed at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/virtual-machines/windows/. However, many users probably will opt for higher-powered and more expensive services.

Who is in charge? – Using any cloud-based service means that the user is always at the whims and policies of the cloud service provider. While the odds of Microsoft declaring bankruptcy and going out of business are slim, other issues can be a problem. First, Microsoft could raise prices at any time. Next, the U.S. Government can suddenly change its laws and regulations, leaving you out of business.

NOTE: One example is Adobe. The company is shutting down its application service for Venezuelan users to comply with a U.S. executive order that prohibits trade with that country. If you live in Caracas, you soon won’t be able to use Acrobat, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, or Premiere. The same thing could happen if you relied on Microsoft for your desktop.

Summation:

Microsoft will first encourage corporations to move to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). Individual consumers will not be rushed into making this change; you probably can continue to use Windows installed in your own computer for several more years. However, there is little doubt that Microsoft wants everyone to eventually rent their computing capabilities, not purchase the hardware. Of course, Microsoft will always encourage renting this amount of power from just one company: MICROSOFT.

As to the Windows PC hardware as a standalone platform, it’s on its way out. The change won’t happen overnight, but it certainly will happen if Microsoft has its way.

If you don’t want to participate in Microsoft’s visions for the future, now is the time to start planning on alternatives: Macintosh/Chromebook/Linux/Pad/Android or whatever new hardware and operating systems appear in the future.

57 Comments

This does NOT sound compatible with genealogy programs one keeps on one’s laptop, desk, whatever, nor with the ability to scan genealogy documents or pictures.
I knew when I read about this quite some time ago I wouldn’t be a fan of it…, and this just confirms it.
I wonder if other computer or software companies will raise their prices accordingly when renting technology becomes a hassle and everyone will be scrambling for the hardware and software with which we are all familiar…?

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‘By the time all Windows users are forced to move to WVD” – LOL that’s rich, dude. Never going to happen unless ms really wants many to flock to Linux, e.g. I wouldn’t worry, ms hardly “has its way,” we’ll all see to that. ha

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    I never thought I would “rent” rather than buy “Word” but I did for Office 365. I felt the choice of Office 365 between renting and buying stand alone “Word” was best for my use considering the cost and support services.It was not an easy choice and I’m still not sure it was the most cost effective.

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I normally use linux, windows only for apps that won’t run on linux (games). I do run windows insider, so that will go away too.

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    They’re thinking of business and not gamers so much. But what happens to all of those hardware intensive Windows games and gamers? Linux and Steam are good, but there are still some of the more popular games that are not available on Linux / Steam (yet).

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Ditched Windows for Linux awhile ago. Another big problem with this is the Cloud is not as secure as people think. Being a Security Specialist who also does white hat hacking, I can tell you with certainty that this will lead to bigger data breaches than we’ve ever seen before. With this new Windows coming, it means a hacker only needs to hack the cloud 1 time and gain access to millions of people’s data. Being that Microsoft has had a lot of trouble with making stable Windows 10 updates, I wouldn’t count on their security being all that good at protecting against these data breaches.

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Personally, I hardly think that this is “the end of Windows as we know it.” From their statements, it sounds like the target audience for WVD is probably low-end users and businesses.

Given the issues of latency (and other ISP issues) in current, secure remote desktop offerings, and noting the fact that a good chunk of non-business users are gamers, Microsoft would be foolish not to have a local, offline option.

But then, nobody said Microsoft had to do what was smart, so you could be right after all.

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    If I’m a “low-end” user, just need to check my email, bank and browse, think I’m going to rent Windows AND my internet connection? Probably not. That’s where the move to Chromebook and Linux happens.

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    If there is no longer an installed Windows OS are MS expecting hardware to run a competitors OS simply to run a browser through which view the WVD ?

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WVD on Azure descriptions all sound like heavy duty enterprise solutions. Where’s the virtual personal computer subscription for the average Sally and Joe?

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Nice knowing you Microsoft. Time for Linux to shine. Anyone who believes this is a good idea probably has shares in Microsoft.

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The Cloud is just someone else’s servers. Keep your private data private.

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No thanks I like my high end computer I don’t the same power as someone living in a hut in Africa why would I do any computing on an iPad or anything other than a computer this is what happens when you’re a monopoly

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Thin clients have been a thing for years and windows is still around. A new flavor won’t change anything

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Renting out the OS? BAD idea, Microsoft! Worse than pushing Vista and Windows 8 on your customers (don’t get me started on Win 8). Internet crashes, Windows isn’t accessible. ‘Always on’ Internet service increases the likelihood of an attack. Cloud isn’t as secure as people think.

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Another disadvantage you failed to mention is the stripped-down versions of the desktop applications that are available on this new service. They just don’t cut it for some users.

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I won’t say never, but your timeline is skewed…with limited Internet options in this country alone (not everyone has what’s dubbed “broadband” or “high speed” service), not to mention other areas of the world where dialup is still a thing, it’ll be far beyond a few years before any of this takes hold. Kudos for putting this in the forefront of our minds now.

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Another doom & gloom naysayer. Another product does not imply existing ones are going away.

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Maybe a hybrid would work, Windows operating system on the cloud, but personal files and programs like Word and Excel on the computer.

1) The cloud is not always the best. I bought into the “safety” of cloud storage, but had a Word file corrupted. That file was a year’s worth of my running correspondence with a genealogy group. I did a lot of troubleshooting to open it, but no luck. I quickly backed up all my cloud storage onto my hard drive. Thankfully, I am recreating that correspondence with the group’s help.

2) I use the new Office with its OneDrive and can run Word and Excel off the cloud, but it is cumbersome and slow. It also looks different. Word and Excel on my desktop are fast and steady.

3) We are in a new house in a new subdivision with an expensive internet hookup and yet we get intermittent breaks often and without warning, maybe how my Word file got corrupted as the “saving” to the cloud got interrupted.

4) I often like to have several Excel spreadsheets or Word documents open as I combine, cut and paste, and generally do proofreading or sorting of database items. I would not want to depend on a solid uninterrupted internet connection to perform those tasks. In fact, I can do those tasks without an internet connection at all.

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Perhaps I am missing some basic point, but my initial response to this article is: “What’s the big fuss?” I have both a desktop & a laptop that both run with Windows XP and that never go on line. I am perfectly happy with using a Family Tree Maker that is 10 years old, a Quicken financial management program that is 15 years old, an dated Libre Office suite, etc. Because these computers never go online, security is not an issue. Then I have a separate system that I use for online communications. I use flash drives to shuffle individual files back and forth as needed (which really doesn’t happen that much). It works for me – and I don’t lose any sleep about my XP systems getting hacked. A major flaw in this scheme is the longevity of the hardware. So far, this hasn’t been a problem, but it could be, at some point.

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The most secure forward-looking user operating system (OS) in use now seems to be the QubesOS distribution based on the Xen hardware hypervisor.

To possibly oversimplify the theory, hardware hypervisors allow the user to make every PC into a “mini-cloud” that the user can configure so that all application windows (note lower case: NOT “(Microsoft) Windows”) can be shielded from external control by user data-flow design. All Linux (and “Windows”) operating systems configured for Xen functionality can be used in multiple separate user windows. The windows can be set up so that, for instance, a web-browser that has become compromised can have the browser-only window shut down, destroying all the corrupted data, and then relaunched from a secure template in seconds. This makes it possible for a user to routinely pre-encrypt any data that go to external storage providers, etc.

Not all users will be willing to start the QubesOS learning curve until more user experience has been refined into the OS, but that seems to be coming with about 10x user growth per year. Microsoft’s WVD migration is perhaps to avoid loss of access to the user data it currently has when more users adopt a QubesOS style system.

Search “QubesOS” and “hardware hypervisor” for more information, albeit mostly written in “tech speak”. Linux Format’s April 2019 issue has a DVD copy of QubesOS 4 and an accompanying article.

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I’ll dust off my black edition of windows and stick with that forever then.

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I’ll be going to purchase my next Mac computer. Never owned one before but will be starting if this all goes onto effect.

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This was a real hot take. The fact that you Microsoft is now offering to host virtual desktops as part of Office 365 is in no way evidence that this is the future for everyone, and to think so is an amazing leap.

I doubt that anyone could actually believe this if they thought about it, but spreading the conspiracy theory to the unwashed masses just to drive clicks is still beyond irresponsible.

On a different note, how is a subscription cheaper than buying actual storage? You can buy a 2TB hard drive, more than nearly anyone will ever use, for $70 on the low end these days.

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Who need Word when there’s LibreOffice for free or for a small donation, better suite than Microrotten-softy.

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Goodbye, Microsoft.
I have already cancelled my 365 acct, and am currently looking for an email program I like.
Linux is coming to my computer. Just have to figure out which version.

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Additional comment: One factor that I did not mention in the above article was brought to my attention today by a newsletter reader: Microsoft undoubtedly has been watching the success of Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems. Millions of these devices are being sold every year and we can assume most of those sales were to individuals, schools, and corporations who purchased a Chromebook or Chromebox system instead of a Windows system.

(I doubt if many people purchase a Chromebook or Chromebox system instead of a Macintosh.)

Every sale of a Chromebook or Chromebox system represents the loss of a sale of a new Windows system. That means millions of dollars in lost revenue for Microsoft.

Part of the success of Chromebook and Chromebox systems is (1.) low prices and (2.) operating system simplicity and (3.) the fact that Chromebook and Chromebox systems never get viruses and (4.) the fact that Chromebook and Chromebox systems have a default of running applications in the cloud. (Today’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems also can run programs installed internally but that doesn’t seem to be as popular.)

Since Microsoft has experienced a significant loss in revenue due to competition from Chromebook and Chromebox systems, the company’s senior executives undoubtedly said to themselves, “We can do that too!”

I am sure that much of the motivation for Microsoft to add the capability of running cloud-based Windows applications is because of competitive pressures from Google’s Chromebook and Chromebox systems.

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What if a hacker used this virtual remote desktop and access the uses powershell with admin rights? Microsoft think this over

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Virtual windows, good for Huawei?

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Don’t I have to be running Windows in order to run the browser? If so, what’s the point?!

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    —> Don’t I have to be running Windows in order to run the browser?

    No.

    You can use the web browser in an iPad, an Android tablet, a Chromebook, a Macintosh, in Linux, and maybe in some other operating systems. You will not need to use a Windows system.

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False prophet. Cassandra. A person who have heard some news about MS virtual machines but never bothered to read about it. Stop scaring people with your nonsense! Virtualization is 20 years old, and you can run Mac on Linux, Chromebook on Windows, iOS on Android for quite some time now!

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Let’s see. I need to “rent” a service that I already own (several PCs and laptops with Windows already paid for). (And I’m not nearly ready to buy more PCs, so why rent?) And use the “cloud” to work on documents that are private…where someone not trustworthy can see them. I’m a business man so I understand Microsoft’s motivation. Then, there will be charges for running other programs we already have…Ancestry will make a deal with Microsoft to be the exclusive carrier of their product on this cloud-based system. They certainly aren’t doing this to help me out.

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This “article” is stupid AF and ignorant. This is nothing but click bait and fear mongering. (well, something mongering)
DaaS is aimed squarely at enterprise use. Even if there is a consumer remote/virtual desktop offering in the future, and I’m sure there will be, that in no way means they will do away with traditional perpetual licensed Windows desktop OS.
It’s more likely that Microsoft will switch to an open source kernel and offer Windows desktop for much cheaper than it is today.
What an asshat.

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Given this is an Azure service this is probably to complete with Amazon’s WorkSpaces on AWS which has been around for a while, and both are aimed at businesses as a way of reducing hardware and software maintenance costs. Both services would also be beneficial for companies with remote workers, as those workers can then access their company computer from any device the client supports.

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Get outta here I’ll never use Mac or some other crap OS. Virtual desktop has been around for EONs this is NOTHING new! What are we going to install our games on the cloud? Gtfo here with your old man paranoia.

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Ah yes, another desktop computers are going away prediction…..seems to me you’ve written this sort of article before and have been for years. Smart phones and tablets certainly cut into desktop sales, but nothing like that is going to replace a real keyboard and a large screen to work with plus the security of NOT putting things in the cloud. LOCKSS still rules.

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    —> Ah yes, another desktop computers are going away prediction…..seems to me you’ve written this sort of article before and have been for years.

    Correct but it has already become true in the case of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Chromebooks are based on the concept of a very powerful cloud-based operating system accessed by low-powered computers. Most of the computing power is provided by cloud-based servers. The user’s computers can be low-powered and inexpensive systems.

    Millions of Chromebooks have been sold to consumers and corporations alike since the first Chromebook was introduced in December of 2010. Chromebooks remain amongst the most popular computers sold by Amazon and I suspect the same is true for other retailers as well.

    |According to Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromebook#History

    “In 2015, Chromebooks, by sales volume (to companies in the US), are second after Windows based devices (with Android tablets, overtaking Apple’s devices in 2014): “Chromebook sales through the U.S. B2B channels increased 43 percent during the first half of 2015, helping to keep overall B2B PC and tablet sales from falling. [..] Sales of Google OS-equipped (Android and Chrome) devices saw a 29 percent increase over 2014 propelled by Chromebook sales, while Apple devices declined 12 percent and Windows devices fell 8 percent.”

    Also:

    By March 2018 Chromebooks made up 60% of computers used in schools.

    Microsoft obviously is feeling pressure from the increasing sales of Chromebook and Chromebox computers. I suspect that pressure is one of the reasons why Microsoft is now moving into the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) arena. There’s money to be made with DaaS.

    In short, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is already very popular today amongst both consumers and corporations who are using the Chrome operating system and that trend is expected to increase for a number of years yet.

    By the way, I own both a Chromebook and a Chromebox as well as a MacBook Pro. The Chromebook is the computer I normally take with me when traveling.

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I have had Microsoft for years. I will either find another system or I will get a mac and search about running it. Any thoughts?

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You know this a lot of this already happening as you have hinted but there’s still one slight little problem. In order to run Windows Virtual desktop on your phone, Macintosh or Linux box whatever you still kind of need to computer and that means you still have to purchase something because you can’t have a Windows Virtual desktop with no desktop. Currently, running a Windows VM session on a Windows box is practical but not so much for home users. I dare say they would find it redundant.

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The downside of this arrangement is not described well. We can expect reliability issues in excess of what is described.

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Well, I guess I’ll be staying on Windows 10 for life and hell no. I am not doing windows in the cloud. No thank you.

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So, renting is not cheaper than owning. I can buy the sw I use every day once every few years and it continues to work just fine. I used Office 2003 for probably 5 years and that was way cheaper than paying by the month would have been, and I had far better software. There hasn’t been a new office desktop since 365 came out, and I’ve been fine, not paying ANYthing. As for the product, the free versions of excel are better than the cloud version. I’ve been in offices that thought office 365 was wonderful and Excel users all rebelled. I use Excel for both accounting AND genealogy, a lot, and cannot do most of the things I do without the desktop version.

While I can see why Microsoft thinks it’s a good business plan, I don’t see why ANYone should buy it as a customer service improvement. It is purely revenue driven. Nothing to do with service. And their business model is endless growth forever. That model may not work for much longer.

Plus the “good old days” of using sw on a powerful remote platform involved heavy wait times even for those with 1T cables, and great LAN speeds. I find office 365 exceedingly slow, never mind the totally lacking features upon which I depend. Surprised you don’t remember that as you were around in the 80s . Most people don’t have fast enough internet connections to deal with this, since the utilities who were subsidized to put in fiber optic cables didn’t.

Other companies are also doing this – Intuit is trying to get people to switch to the online versions of the software, and it is awful. They advertise a $10 a Month version, but required features (like accounts payable and receivable!) raise the price to where it swamps desktop in under a year or you pay your bookkeeper to spend an hour doing something that should take a minute. Thats also expensive.

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Dick… I’m missing something . In the future, when you go down to Best Buy for a computer it must have some sort of operating system on it unless it’s just a terminal. Will Windows as a native operating system not be available on any of them? Will HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc switch to Linux? Chrome? If that’s the case, why then bother to go to Microsoft’s cloud and not just use Linux’s apps instead? Will HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc be happy just selling cheap chrome-like boxes instead of their big, powerful, (profitable) computers? Probably not analogous ,but will everyone be using a cheap terminal attached (remotely) to a big mainframe as in days of yore, instead of their own computers.?

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    —> In the future, when you go down to Best Buy for a computer it must have some sort of operating system on it unless it’s just a terminal.

    True. However, it can be a very low cost or compact (portable) computer or tablet or even a smartphone if the buyer is willing to use a tiny screen. (I do that occasionally but I certainly prefer a 12-inch or larger screen when possible. Still, it is nice to be able to perform “quick tasks” on the smartphone, such as quickly checking to see if I have new email or to check on the weather or sports report or other quick tasks. I rarely write email replies, however, on the phone. I use it mostly as a read-only device.)

    When you go to BestBuy or any other computer retailer, it is nice to be able to purchase a Chromebook that costs $200 or so rather than the typical $500 or more Windows computer or $1000 or more for a Macintosh. A number of Chromebooks from different manufacturers are available for $200 or less and, if you shop around enough, you can occasionally find new but factory close-out sales or else refurbished Chromebooks for $100 or less.

    Which do I want to take with me when traveling where it may get stolen: a $200 Chromebook or a $1000 or $2000 Macintosh laptop?

    iPads will also work well with remote desktop access. While iPads are expensive, many people already have them and can use them with a remote Desktop-as-a-Service at no additional charge over what they already own. Android tablets tend to be much cheaper, often running as low as $100, and they can do a credible job.

    The Amazon Fire tablets are very good and cost $50 to $150, depending upon screen size. I have an Amazon Fire with a 10-inch screen and can report it works well when accessing services in the cloud.

    Next, it is nice to be able to access a Windows system, even one in the cloud, from multiple locations: from your home, from the office, from the commuter train, while at the coffee shop or in a hotel or from other locations. Having all your files and information available to you within seconds is a great convenience and time-saver. Instead of buying one expensive Windows or Macintosh computer and carrying it everywhere, some people will find it more cost-effective and more convenient to use 2 or 3 or more low-cost computing devices. That won’t be true for everyone but it will be true for many people (myself included as I travel a lot).

    —> why then bother to go to Microsoft’s cloud and not just use Linux’s apps instead?

    If you only plan to use one computer from one location, such as from home, I would agree with you. However, for those of us who want quick access from anywhere, I would disagree. I didn’t want to drag a Linux system with me on my recent trips to Singapore, Bangkok, Auckland, London, Oslo, and Amsterdam. “Different strokes for different folks” depending upon needs.

    —> but will everyone be using a cheap terminal attached (remotely) to a big mainframe as in days of yore, instead of their own computers.?

    Not everyone but, yes, many people will. It certainly is reminiscent of the old mainframe systems of many years ago when I started in the computer business! However, I don’t see that as a bad thing, depending upon how useful the cloud-based applications become.

    Speaking of that, I really don’t care what operating system is used or where the powerful computer(s) are located. Windows or Macintosh or Linux or the Chrome operating system or Android or Apple’s iOS operating system (for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch systems) all work well. The details vary, of course, but all of the operating systems are very capable of reading and writing files and data, reading and writing email messages, surfing the web, playing computer games, using Facebook, checking the news, and much, much more. Who cares which operating system is in use at the moment? I would suggest using the operating system(s) that is convenient for you. Otherwise, there isn’t all that much difference amongst them.

    When selecting a computer, I only care about price, ease of use, ease of access, and can I access whatever I want, whenever or wherever the need arises. Other people may have different priorities but I suspect a lot of people have needs that are similar to mine.

    Again, “Different strokes for different folks.”

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Fine. But I will ONLY do it if it has a Windows 7 interface or forget it.
Bill

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What happens when I die and they don’t get paid and my family goes looking got my pictures, documents, music. Will, anything they may want to learn more or keep? Where would they start?

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    —> What happens when I die and they don’t get paid and my family goes looking got my pictures, documents, music.

    Exactly the same thing that would happen in any other Windows or Macintosh or most any other kind of computer: if someone in your family knows the required user name and password, they will be able to log into your computer. Another method is for you to leave printed instructions in your will or as an attachment to your will and make sure your family knows where those instructions are stored or in some place where your family is sure to find the instructions.

    However, like all other versions of Windows, Macintosh, and other computers, if you pass away while keeping the user name and password secret, nobody else will be able to log in.

    All of this is under your control, as always.

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    I agree with what you say but it doesn’t always work this way. Itunes says once you die your music dies with you. Family can’t have and sure they can use your login but at some point…. And you have to change passwords so you’ll be updating your list / will constant and may miss the last one. Also – if it’s WEB based and you miss the payment – your online life is gone. So they have to figure this out ASAP while trying to mourn and do everything else involved? Ever try to back up from the Web? My wife and I just tried to combine her Prime photos and mine. 30,000 combined. Well Amazon only allows us to download 200 at a time!! Luckily I had most saved to my Hard Drive but all the odd ones under me are now gone as we’re just on her account as are many old photo CD’s and Photo Disks (no disk reader anymore and hundreds of CD’s). Yes I could send out to be printed or downloaded but $$. I’ll stick with backing up to a Thumb Drive and if MS goes paid I’ll go Chromebook or some way to keep local on my laptop. Also – being Web based means I’m locked into being connected to do / see anything or show my pictures to others (yes you can work offline to a degree).

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    I agree with much of what you wrote but I will dispute one point:

    —> Itunes says once you die your music dies with you. Family can’t have and sure they can use your login but at some point…. And you have to change passwords so you’ll be updating your list

    As I have written many times in this newsletter, never, ever trust your important information in only one location. Things happen. Hard drives fail, online companies may go bankrupt or might be purchased by new owners that have different ideas for the future of the company, people forget passwords, and more and more failures occur. I don’t trust anything that is stored ONLY in my own computers (hard drive failures) or anything stored in a flashdrive (those devices are not guaranteed for long-term storage) or in one location in the cloud (due to multiple reasons).

    Yet the solution is simple: if anything is important to you, make multiple copies and store them in multiple places.

    These multiple copies won’t all go bad or all go missing at the same time. If any file is lost due to any of the above problems, it will be a minor inconvenience, not a disaster.

    The user simply restores the file from another copy that was stored someplace else.

    In the case of a recently deceased person, he or she should have been storing multiple copies in many different places. However, if he or she did not do that, as soon as practical after the passing of the deceased, the surviving family should copy the information immediately to multiple copies in multiple locations they control and are available for their own long-term storage. Simple.

    L.O.C.K.S.S. is an acronym for “Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.” Every data center manager, every digital archivist, and many others know that acronym and follow it closely. My goal is to publicize the phrase L.O.C.K.S.S. and its meaning amongst genealogists.

    —> My wife and I just tried to combine her Prime photos and mine. 30,000 combined. Well Amazon only allows us to download 200 at a time!!

    Is Amazon the only company in business? Is it the only place to store pictures? If one company’s product does not meet your need(s), take your business elsewhere! There are many ways you can store 30,000 photos. Or 100,000. Or one million or more.

    If it was me, I would first store and organize all of the photos in my own hard drive(s). Once that was completed, I would immediately make backup copies of the (organized) photos and store them in (multiple) portable hard drives that are stored in multiple places as well as in the cloud, preferably in 2 or 3 different companies that offer cloud-based file storage services. Some of the (multiple) portable hard drives would also be given to relatives who also have an interest in keeping those family photos for a long time. (I have already done this with my own family photos.)

    Again, L.O.C.K.S.S. – “Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.”

    Like

    In a perfect world your plan works but no one is going to make that many backups and then KEEP THEM ALL UP TO DATE almost daily….Heck – I took 200 pictures this week alone (It’s leaf season). To do what you say would take time from “living” in the real world. I try to use the PC to check mail – pay bills – download pictures. Maybe 1 hour total a week. I don’t have the time to spend more time online (yes I look at my phone when in lines / etc. Amazon – Yes there are other companies but Amazon has tens of thousands of our photos and no way to (easily) transfer them elsewhere (200 at a time?). I have backup of pre-2016 photos but guess what? The connector is unique and it only works with their cable and power. I tried other cables to no avail. Someday that HD will die as will my USB thumb drive I have the recent ones stored on. All of today’s tech will be obsolete one day too. Just like our movies on VHS. So to try and and get decades of pictures (and videos) in one place is a near impossible task. I was using a digital camera when they were under 1 MP and batteries died in an hour – plus we got pictures on CD’s and Floppy Disks (who has a reader for them other than pay a company to download) and even albums and negatives. We tried to scan and upload them but was a slow painful process. If I win the lottery I’ll turn over all drives, pictures, disks, you name it – to someone to do for me. Then my kid / grand kids can throw in the dumpster some day?

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    —> but no one is going to make that many backups and then KEEP THEM ALL UP TO DATE almost daily

    I am not sure I agree. My computers make automatic backups every 15 minutes, even if I am sleeping at the time or if I am out of the house and traveling someplace else.

    Any new files (whether it is a photo or a word processing document or an email message or anything else…) gets backed up within 15 minutes after it is stored on the computer’s hard drive. Many other backup programs do the same.

    Like

An even greater disadvantage to Windows Virtual Desktop is that rural customers who can only get on-line with satellite connections will be essentially unable to use it. Satellite connections are too slow, have quite limited bandwidth, and also have delays (small but important) in receiving and sending.
Have you ever tried a Skype conference call with satellite? By the time my voice came through, the rest of the conference had gone on, and I was interrupting the new topic.
Larry

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I am still quite happy running Windows 3.1. Does what I need.

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