Just migrated my Spaces blog to WordPress in order take advantages of increased capabilities.
This all was part of the process up updating Windows Live Essentials in which the familiar Messenger becomes integrated with Facebook (but Twitter for some strange reason was left behind) and other social media. This process has opened my eyes to a new world of computing and information management that has the potential to be as disruptive as the migration of music to the web that occurred over the last half decade.
First, the recent tools essentially integrate local instances of the application with web-based social media. This just streamlines the social communicating by eliminating the need to jump apps to participate in virtual communication. The distinction between e-mail, instant messaging and social media begin to blur and probably will evaporate.
Second, and probably more important, these tools have the potential to eliminate the need for local computing. It now really doesn’t matter what you by for yourself and essentially the need to carry around a computer wherever you go.
MS Office now is really functional on the web with a stripped down but eminently functional version of Office 10 that enables me to keep relatively simple spreadsheets in sync using any device (hope pivot tables come soon).
What’s actually happening is that each of us who have a Windows Live account have a virtual Sharepoint services that we can use to manage our documents using any device that can connect to the web.
This is causing me to rethink cloud based computing. I attempted to use Google Apps but they behaved too much like web-based applications and also required me to learn and manage different front ends to manipulate the data. Microsoft’s cloud-based Office, on the other hand, looks and acts identically to Office 10 applications on my PCs and, I’m assuming will mirror the Office 11 apps soon to be available on my Macs.
With regard to spreadsheets, the only feature really missing that I use frequently is pivot tables and once that’s there then it begins to raise the question whether I need to perpetually upgrade to the latest version of Office on all of the 4 machines I use regularly (2 Win7 devices, an iMac and MacPro).
To be sure locally installed programs do have many more features, can be used when not connected to the web, run faster and are not constrained by space or size that would require space upgrades on web sites. But from a rigorous fiscal perspective it probably makes sense to migrate all of my data to the web and be done with worrying about or putting a lot of expense into locally owned applications.
So what will the world in the near future look like? My guess is that we will all eventually subscribe to storage and applications in the cloud and be free from having to purchase, haul and struggle with local computers. Virtually everything will be connected to everything and all we need to do is walk up to any device anywhere in the world, identify ourselves and have immediate access to our own computing resources with unlimited power and storage.