Monday, August 18, 2008

Dell, Intel and the likes taking steps to cut out Windows Vista all together

Dell, Intel and their various partners have all announced initiatives and new technologies aimed at eliminating and/or reducing the need for an OS all together.  The secret, according to these companies, lies in mobility technology, and apparently cutting out Microsoft all together.

In an industry pushing towards cloud computing and less proprietary-driven environments, Microsoft’s own partners are giving users what they want while Windows lays dormant; such as email, and access to vital information without the need to boot up the OS at all, according to PCWorld.  Not to feed in to the already bad image of Windows Vista, but when companies that are partners are already planning ways of cutting you out, you better evaluate your game plan.

One of the best examples of this shift was Dell’s recent announcement of its new "Latitude ON" feature.  The main idea is allow for the use of e-mail, Web surfing, basic PIM functionality and document reading without the need to boot Windows.  The idea is to enable basic use without having to wait for a boot process, and also to extend battery life on notebooks.  In its development, the main idea was to let users have functionality normally found in a Blackberry- on a notebook where you can use a full-sized keyboard and screen.  Interestingly enough, the codename for the project was "blacktop" which is a combination of Blackberry and laptop.

Latitude ON works by using a low-power Intel Arm processor, flash storage and Linux- separate from the laptop’s main CPU, hard drive and Windows OS.  It essentially turns your laptop into a cloud computing device, by depending on your internet connection for most of its functionality.  In another attempt to thwart the use of anything Microsoft-related, the Latitude ON system uses FireFox for an internet browser, and other non-Microsoft products for email and document support.

Not to be left out, Intel also rolled out a new technology recently, called "Remote Wake."  It’s made up of a chipset and software development kit that enables a PC to be awakened over an internet connection while in sleep mode.  The main idea is to allow the use of a VoIP line without having to leave your power-sucking PC on all the time.  It’s also aimed for use in remote backups, and for downloading media and other files remotely without the need for the PC to be on to accept such a connection.

Silicon Valley VoIP startup JaJah is at the center of the technology, not Microsoft, and is incorporating its software into chipsets found in some upcoming PCs.  It’s more or less an attempt to sell VoIP lines on behalf of JaJah, but it still opens some doors to other software and apps that could use a remote-wake function one way or another.  For example, Orb Networks, Cyberlink and Pando Networks are also Intel partners working on Remote Wake.

While I still have a lot of questions regarding the use of cloud computing, it seems to have no downsides, and these two technologies are prime examples.  I didn’t know companies and vendors would already be putting this idea to work, but I’m glad they are.  It signifies what’s to come, and how we’ll access our information in the future.  Hopefully, without an OS at all.

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