Our computers are going on a crash diet and could soon be ultra-thin. This video from Google could just be a major landmark in the history of IT. They are releasing a new concept in laptops, Chromebooks, and the revolutionary feature is that they do not need heavy programs, file managers and tons of extras like the standard laptop. Basically the Chromebook lets you access the net and that's it.
It's a logical step really since you can do just about everything you want in the cloud today, so why bother filling your hard drive with uneccessary flab? Without this heavy burden the Chromebook can start up almost immediately (the desktop I'm writing on now can take at least 5 minutes to get up and running). If everything is stored in the cloud you don't need to download anything and consequently there's no need to have virus protection. Irritating updates and patches will disappear since the version on the net will always be updated. When you can easily and cheaply subscribe to a massive cloud-based library of music/films/books/games why then go to the trouble of downloading copies? Of course people will always find ways of beating the system but this innovation could lead to the end of file sharing since there will be little point in it.
How long will it take before our trusty desktop computers and software-heavy laptops head the same way as the fat TV and CD-players? The tide could turn very quickly if the price is right. The only problem could be that the whole concept of cloud computing is still relatively unknown to the vast majority. It might however be easier to use than grappling with the extremely unpredictable and infuriating quirks of the average desktop.
What will this mean for education? It could make computing affordable for all since such thin terminals shouldn't costs anything like today's laptops. What does this mean for all the schools and universities that have just invested heavily in providing students with laptops and iPads?
Read Mashable's summary of this, Google explains life after the desktop.