This past year has been an interesting one in tech and in particular in software. As last year drew to a close, we considered two of the happenings that caught our eye and perhaps the eye of the tech press, too.1. The decline of the world-wide-web.
Readers of this blog (of a certain age) may well be blessed (or 'blessed') with children. Unless you're one of those parents who still insist their offspring play with wooden whip-and-tops, your kids are probably glued to some electronic device's screen.
What's strange to us gentleman and lady FileMaker developers of a certain age is that use of web browsers isn't something that comes particularly naturally to the young folks. Instead, the weapon of choice on the internet for the emerging generation is the app. Part of the issue is one of the platform. Web browsers are best suited to the desktop/laptop environment, where keyboards are still in constant use. While two thumbs can type, the rigorous attention to syntax demanded by a web browser (goggle.com doesn't produce many good search results, we find) makes mobile platforms not suited to the browser, easily.
Perhaps the website will eventually go much the same way as the CD-ROM did around the turn of the millennium: in occasional use, but a cause of some puzzlement for the young 'uns.2. Microsoft's departure from mobile and into The Cloud.
RIP Windows 10 Mobile. It now lives in the same little area of cyberspace occupied by Windows XP, the Zune and all of Microsoft's attempts at streaming services. Windows 10 was designed to be able to use a single operating system on multiple platforms: tablet, phone, and desktop. The touchscreen antics of Windows 8 had been glossed over (that OS was very much tablet and phone-based) and Windows 10 was to be, quite literally, all things to all people. Unfortunately, without a platform on which to install Windows 10 Mobile in the mobile space, Microsoft was all at sea, despite its significant investment in the purchase of Nokia in 2014. What killed Microsoft on mobile (apart from the whole company behaving like a rudderless oil-tanker for most of the last few years) was lack of apps. Or rather, lack of developers wishing to commit to writing apps on a minority platform which, after all, was meant to be able to run desktop apps anyway.
The rudder on the oil tanker has recently received a firmer hand than of late, thanks to CEO Satya Nadella, and his mantra of The Cloud being The Future. Of course, all good igeeks know that The Cloud is just a catch-all term for the Interwebs, isn't it? Well, in the modern business parlance, perhaps not. The Cloud now refers to XaaS, or, to paraphrase, just-about-anything-as-a-service. And it's here that Microsoft is concentrating. Amazon in its AWS (Amazon Web Services) guise and Google both, are empowering businesses of all sizes with the power to use web-based apps and services that do, well, just-about-anything.
Here at igeek, we use The Cloud ourselves - our own FileMaker servers are hosted on AWS; an ironic move as we give at least thirty percent of our personal incomes to Amazon via their online stores. We just can't help ourselves. Amazon has now joined Google (and latterly, as rumour has it, Apple) in providing this year's buzzword, AI (artificial intelligence) services to its customers. You can now send Google (or a.n.other, including Microsoft) your video or pictures and the software will "learn" faces, activity types and so forth – dependent on your level of coding skills.
The massive systems architecture offered by these internet giants is gradually changing the world and Microsoft wants some of that space.
Where will it all end? We have no idea but we're sure that smileys will be involved....