Keeping Mobile and Desktop OS separate

Random Musings ,Tech News
March 21, 2013

Google just announced that they are keeping Android and Chrome OS separate – you can read the Verge article here.

I read this article and the top comment sums up my opinion pretty nicely – disappointed. As the divide between mobile computing (cell phones) and “traditional” desktop and laptop computing grows smaller with the prevalence of the tablet form factor, I think that the idea of having one operating system that adapts to multiple devices is the way that computing needs to go. To be honest, I thought that Google would be one of the first companies to get this done. They seem to be in the best position to do so, as they don’t have an established desktop computing user base the way that Apple and Microsoft do, and because of how small of a footprint Chrome OS has on hardware.

Closer instead to this is the Ubuntu Phone, which claims that the phone will become a full version of the Ubuntu operating system when docked. This is where the future in computing lies. Being able to carry around your entire computing life in your pocket? That’s cool. But what are the other big companies doing about this?

Apple’s system is clean, but I think that the difference between their mobile OS and desktop OS limits the usability of the iPad. Personally (and I’ll sound biased on this) I think Microsoft is heading in a better direction with Windows 8, though the execution of the attempt wasn’t optimal. The problem that companies face is the unwillingness of people to change – when the average user gets comfortable with the way their computer looks and feels, they are hesitant to change it. Another issue is figuring out design – the prevalence of touch as a new method of input means that there is a huge market for figuring out how to make an operating system run well with traditional and new hardware advancements.

Back to Google. I can’t understand why a company that has a huge following with their mobile phone operating system isn’t using this to their advantage when developing a desktop operating system. I have a few theories, but I’m not Eric Schmidt and I don’t work at Google, so I won’t know for sure. In the meantime, for my own personal benefits, I’m hoping other software companies jump at the opportunity to fill in this gap and start optimizing their systems for all forms.

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