Emerging Tech

Sanity check: The four trends that will change PCs and computing over the next two years

The Intel Developer Forum is a regular harbinger of the hot new technologies that will soon impact the computing industry, and based on IDF 2007, TechRepublic's Jason Hiner sees four important trends to that IT pros should follow.

If there's one thing you can count on from the annual Intel Developer Forum, it's that you won't be bombarded with the kind of pipe dreams and vaporware you get at most of the events that cover "emerging technologies." In the 10 years since IDF began in 1997, the conference has been a regular harbinger of what's to come in computing, from the emergence of Wi-Fi to hyper-threading and dual-core processors.

The leading trends at the Intel Developer Forum regularly become mainstream within two years because Intel has usually been very good at picking winners and putting its resources behind the right technologies.

At IDF 2007 on September 18-20 in San Francisco, I spotted four important trends that IT professionals should keep an eye on over the next two years.

4. Cleaner and greener technology

A ton of momentum and collective will is building around environmentally conscious "green" technologies, from energy-sipping CPU chips to cleaner power to technology recycling programs. Large companies like Hewlett-Packard are trying to educate users and make it easier to recycle equipment. Startups like fuel cell maker Medis are producing low-cost power packs to give extra hours of battery life to portable devices, and doing it in a way that does not damage the environment even if the fuel cells -- which are recyclable -- are thrown in landfills.

So the PCs and devices are consuming less power, battery power is getting longer and more versatile, and a lot of tech manufacturers are working toward building equipment with less-toxic, more recyclable materials.

There was a whole section of the Technology Showcase at IDF 2007 dedicated to eco-friendly technologies.

3. The wire-free desk (and living room)

Just as we've heard about the "paperless office" for years but have only slowly made progress toward it, the idea of a wire-free desk enabled by near field communications (NFC) and personal area network (PAN) technologies has been swirling around for years but with only a few devices, such as wireless keyboard/mouse and Bluetooth headsets, going mainstream. With the advent of Certified Wireless USB and Bluetooth 2.1, over the next 12-24 months a lot more devices are going to cut the cords, including LCD displays, laptop docking stations, printers, digital cameras, and much more.

These short-range wireless technologies will be assisted by Universal Plug 'n Play (UPnP) to make the devices much easier to recognize and configure than the current Bluetooth devices, which can be a major headache for the average user.

2. The incredible shrinking PC

David Perlmutter, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, predicted that by 2009, laptops will pass desktops in revenue. Not surprisingly, some of the hottest devices at IDF were small form factor desktops, ultra-mobile notebooks, and phones and pocket devices that are as powerful as the PCs that people were buying five years ago. It's ironic that PCs and notebooks are shrinking as desktop displays get larger, but that's another story.

There's a new generation of powerful small form factor devices aimed at business professionals on the run. Nearly all of the big PC makers have ultra-portable laptops powered by Intel's dual core Centrino chips, which are as fast or faster than the pre-dual core CPUs that ran the previous generation of desktops.

However, there's also a new variety of small, low-cost laptop PCs aimed at emerging markets. The One Laptop per Child machine is the most well-known, but there's also the ASUS Eee PC and Intel's Classmate PC. I tried out the Eee PC and Classmate PC at IDF and they are both quite useful, even if they are underpowered compared to today's business laptops.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini shows off the ASUS Eee PC (right) and Intel Classmate PC (left) at IDF 2007.

All three of these will cost around $200 or less. The Eee PC, which runs Linux, could even be appealing to some business users and IT professionals as a functional machine for doing a few simple tasks in a remote or highly mobile environment. The arrival of these machines could help drive down the cost of low-end laptops in general. Plus, there could conceivably be high-end smartphones that are more powerful and versatile than some of these low-end laptops. One thing is clear: The days of the big, ultra-powerful tower are definitely over, unless you are a gamer or a graphics professional.

1. Broadband everywhere

WiMAX is another technology that has been promised for years, but with little visible progress and very few real world examples to show for all of the hype. However, as developments over the next 12 months will show, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes to make WiMAX the next great broadband technology, at the very least -- and potentially the next great leap in computing, if it can truly spread broadband everywhere and connect new types of devices and technologies that haven't even been conceived of  yet.

In talking about WiMAX at IDF, Intel's Otellini said, "We are on the cusp of a new global network."

Sprint's Xohm WiMAX service will officially launch in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. before the end of 2007, and will then spread to a variety of other U.S. metropolitan areas in 2008. Clearwire, which has partnered with Sprint for WiMAX roaming, will launch its WiMAX service in the U.S. in 2008, most likely in many of the smaller metro markets. There's also a entire ecosystem of vendors that are planning WiMAX launches in Asia, Europe, and South America over the next 12-24 months. Plus, Intel is going to start embedding dual-mode WiMAX/Wi-Fi cards in Centrino laptops in 2008.

However, while WiMAX starts spreading over the next few months, 3G HSPA technology -- which already has a strong foundation in place in the cellular networks across the globe -- is attempting to beat WiMAX to the punch with roaming wireless cards and fixed wireless modems that can bring broadband to rural areas and other places with little or no broadband options.

Whether WiMAX or 3G cellular ultimately wins, or they simply coexist, the future of broadband covering the far-flung corners of the earth and connecting devices of all sizes looks like a possibility that is finally coming to life.

Check out my photo gallery from Intel Developer Forum 2007 for photos of these technologies and more.

Intel and its PC partners had the latest (and upcoming) models on display at IDF 2007.

Which of the four technologies listed above are you most interested in following over the next two years? Which ones could potentially have the biggest impact on your organization? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

80 comments
richard.n.carpenter
richard.n.carpenter

Intel isn't in this business but could your analysis have failed to address this area of rapid evolution?

FlatAffect
FlatAffect

I don't live at the end of the earth, but I can see it from here. When you say "broadband everywhere" you need to remember that there are places where a Sprint cellphone doesn't work and probably won't really ever will until the service comes from straight above. We have a lot highways running through narrow canyons with high walls. We have fairly good Verizon cellphone coverage, but not its broadband service. When I input my zipcode, they all just say it's not available.

deity_chooch
deity_chooch

Not to be too much of a downer, but I wouldn't hold my breath on getting that service soon. WiMAX is still a new technology and hasn't had a big launch. I think it will gain a lot of momentum, but the odds of it coming to those kinds of areas are fairly remote; companies just don't build broadband systems out of the goodness of their heart, there needs to be a revenue-generating market present. That being said, perhaps a WiMAX system in a nearby area forces a smaller competitor to expand its reach into your neighborhood to increase its revenue. It may not be the best service, but you have to take your wins when you can, no matter how small.

ls1313
ls1313

I've just moved to an area of town with limited high-speed options. For this reason, I find the whole wireless broadband concept very interesting. Does anyone have any inkling about what technoolgy will be used to secure a wireless broadband network?

deity_chooch
deity_chooch

I work for a wireless ISP in Montana and our wireless network is an FCC licensed channel (meaning not your normal 802.11a/b/g/n). This is a primary level of security simply because normal wireless cards (which I think is your concern) cannot connect at all. Our system requires an antenna installation which receives the signal and transmits it to a modem, which cannot properly connect until it is authorized by me. Now for WiMAX, which doesn't require the antenna installation, I believe the same logic applies. Only modems specifically allowed (by MAC address) to connect will be able to download the IP address information and TFTP file needed to gain Internet access. In short, all your standard ISP security devices apply to this blanketed technology.

ls1313
ls1313

Thanks! That makes me feel a little better about wireless broadband. I do a lot online and have never felt very secure with the normal 802.11 standards.

Jason Bourne
Jason Bourne

Don't forget e-coupled. If you're talking about a wireless desk, you can't leave out the need for wireless power. Its coming. http://www.ecoupled.com/

deity_chooch
deity_chooch

Sounds like an amazing technology, and who wouldn't want to charge their PDAs, phones, and other powered accessories without having to plug it in? But pumping power directly into our surroundings?! That sounds like it can't be good for our health. We already have concerns about wireless phones doling out cancer to its users, what concerns (viable concerns, I'd wager) does this technology present? I guess I'm just a skeptic at heart, but I'd need to see some amazing figures before I user or recommended this technology.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd love to walk into my home, empty my pockets onto the tray by my door and have that tray recharge my gadgets. Heck, have my n800 sit on it's own rubber pad beside my keyboard. It could happily recharging away without the need to plug into a power block or wired craddle. I'm not sure if the link discusses the same aproach but the last I read was basicaly a wifi like power grid. Power routers broadcase throughout the room they are in so you don't even have a short range charging pad to set stuff on for recharging. I may not understand how that one works completely as I'm a little leary of any new energy source radiating my living space further. Battery technology may also have to improve though. Half my gadgets prefer to be plugged in all the time when not out of the house and damage their battery when it becomes undercharged. The other half of my gadgets like to be run "off the grid" and damage the battery when they are over charged. Heck, my watch has a solar cell to charge it's battery but then it damages the battery if left to get too hot in direct sunlight or left without a charge for too long (I'd really like it if the Casio repair guys would send hurry up and send it back as it's been with them for almost two months now).

ebouza
ebouza

Hello, What I am most interested in is the WiMax Technology, that would be great to be able to always have broadband speeds anywhere you go. It is nice to see that we are finally starting to look for ways of not hurting the enviroment and I am totally behind this movement, I hope it catches on like wild fire.

JosiahB
JosiahB

interesting choice of words ^^ seriously though, I agree WiMax looks like a really interesting project.

the.pitts2
the.pitts2

Hi, isn't it about time someone put solar panels on the back of lap tops? P.S. All good stuff chaps, keep up the good work, and thanks, without you I would still be in the dark ages! Regards R.S.P.

ipeters61
ipeters61

I don't really care about the environment, so I don't really want the green technology (AKA I am pro-Conservative).

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Much of the Green technology (as far as power consumption goes) is geared towards data centers. If you can use less electricity and generate less heat then you save (in some cases) large amounts of money. Now who isn't for saving their company a bunch of money? Maybe getting a nice bonus check for all that hard work? Bill

nooly77
nooly77

Just purchased an ACER 22-inch wide screen for $222 after $50 dollar rebate...Big and cheap is here!

norab
norab

I foresee a good market for smaller PCs and laptops. But in a country like india broadband may not be a reality for rural areas yet and for lower income groups even in urban areas.

nentech
nentech

We will just have to wait and see if the old barriers will get in the way of this new(not so new ideas)technology For wireless it has always been cost and capacity (bandwidth) Lets see if they can beat the bills into submission Lets also see if they can cram more into the airwaves without cutting back the bandwidth just to fit in more channels For portable devices it has always been battery life Longer battery life may be lost as they use smaller battery sizes to make them easier to carry around Col

rolph232
rolph232

These are indeed good choices for dynamic trends. I think that another factor may be along the lines of who the target is going to change into. Meaning who OEMs and VARs are planning to sell to. The face of our population is rapidly changing, perhaps even who 'our' represents.

MrRich
MrRich

Here in the US, we are becoming a Hispanic / Latino country. It is already helpful to know some Spanish. The customers are still there, but having language skills will begin to help you in sales in the next few years.

digitus1inOz
digitus1inOz

As for WIMAX superceeding wired broadband - not likely in the boondocks where I live.....

deity_chooch
deity_chooch

I very much think that WiMAX, although having been around for some time now, will be expanding greatly in the near future. I know that my company has drastically changed its business model in the past few months to accommodate the presence of this technology. And this is central Montana I'm talking about, a very rural community, not some metropolis with the biggest, newest, best, etc. It may still take a while for WiMAX to push its presence to gain dominance over other technologies, but don't count it out yet; it is a strong, developing technology that will leave its mark.

willroberts
willroberts

So - Nothing "new" then! These are all trends that have been around for years. What you are saying is that they will continue. I notice that the physically small PC market will grow. I see that as a polarization of the market rather than a trend to smaller and smaller PCs. Perhaps it is better to think of "static" v "portable". Certainly, the huge towers will gradually fade, but a need for large real estate screens will continue - not only for gamers and graphic designers. The only thing that stops me from ordering a massive screen that will display two pages of letter or A4 paper at normal (or larger) size is the price. Since the price will drop in time, the market for these will grow. There will always be a market for the static desktop albeit with everything wireless. Actually, wireless? I still need a raft of sockets for all the power cords. - System unit, screen, printer, router, palm charger, phone charger as well as a general purpose charger for all the batteries in the wireless devices. Now where did I put that wireless mouse? Ah - found it. Damn - the batteries have gone. Just as an addendum, what is it with all these widescreen monitors? Most documents are in portrait! Will

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I prefer to have multiple screens. You get more area for the price. The nice thing about it is also that the video card I use considers them two different screens so I can maximize a document and it only takes up one screen. Then I can use the other screen for the help or other documentation. It make it easy to move documents around. No adjusting the size of the document to allow more or less room. Bill

hlhowell
hlhowell

The reason for wide screens is not the document size (please lets keep the current size or smaller), but so the help screen, the documentation screen, the work screen and maybe a spreadsheet or other useful utility can all be seen at the same time. My problem is that the screen is still not very effective. That is one reason the paperless office has not come to real fruition, most people actually need several documents available as the same time, and the older 3:4 screens just couldn't handle it. A screen of about 20" seems to be best for the desktop (maybe 24 for good eyesight, but glasses users and especially us older bifocal folks can't see all of the much larger screens.) I would like something more like 12x18 which would hold 4 half pages or two full pages, and would be a 2:3 ratio of 22" diagonal roughly. But we don't have that either. OH, Well, one can hope. For immersive environments, one needs at least +/-80 degrees horixontal and about +/-40 degrees in the vertical. But the current approaches of multiple screens don't work due to spherical aberration and seams at the joints, although with current algorithms these effects can be minimized. Coming technologies for 3d based on projection systems are not mature enough yet to see what is possible or desired, although some great uses in medical diagnostics, and in modeling and prototyping are certainly taking us forward. The means of projecting a 3d model via a "fax" are already in use in some places. Eventually the ability to order some component design and have it built for you at home will be possible, and maybe the "replicator" of startrek may begin to make an appearance. To really see the future of these technologies requires more of a complete abandonment of our current view of business as hardware, and a realization that IP is the main industry of the world. At the same time, the compensation model for the generators of IP needs revisiting. Regards, Les H

victorpanlilio
victorpanlilio

The productivity enhancement made possible by larger screens is well-known, and the prices have dropped -- a Dell 24-inch display is now just over $500. At 1920x1200 resolution it can display 2 A4 pages side by side.

rocky
rocky

There was the main frame with terminals about 20+ years ago, then the individual computer, then the server-centric environment and now with current microprocessors with as many as 8-9 cores, blade servers and gigabit Ethernet, we appear to be going back to a modified concept of the local server acting as the old IBM mainframe did as we consider thin clients. My office is near paperless and we are seeing the need for the wider screen monitors for speed and efficiency of document image manipulation and your point is well taken regarding the "portrait" vs "landscape" configuration of the standard display. We will probably end up going with wide screen format in a couple of key, high intensity work areas (due to price) as the time/stress saved would offset the cost of the display. There is a fledgling technology that allows for electric power to be induced wirelessly to the load - but do I really want to work in that emf environment?

michael_orton
michael_orton

Here in North Wales we had the great promise of connected villages by wireless. However with hills and mountains not everybody was able to get it. Fortunately along came ADSL and it is much cheaper and far far better than the wireless system. Perhaps Internet over the Electricity supply may take off soon. As to large tower systems, I shall always need them as I use HD caddies, both for data recovery and for changing O/S quickly. Looks as If I will be able to get scrap 500watt tower systems cheaply in the future! As to recycling, most of my Pcs are rebuilds from ex Local Government sources. Wireless systems will continue to have problems as to their PERCEIVED dangers. Wiring a house or small office is so simple that I am sure it will continue for a long time.

drmikemiles
drmikemiles

I am fascinated by the possibility or rural broadband in North America - actually, desperate for it!!! I spend a lot of time in Romania where Vodafone has a great 3G system. I use it and a Bluetooth connection to my 3G phone to do all my Internet activity. Return to Canada (where I live) and step out of any major city and broadband is but a dream on the horizon. Does anyone know a today-solution to this problem that won't kill the bank? Mike Miles ___________________

docotis
docotis

I live close enough but in an area that doesn't present a "market" to providers of BB. My solution was Sprint mobile in a USB device. The dish systems were cost prohibitive and limited in too many ways. The mobile setup works as well as most DSL's and cost is in the ballpark. DSL and cable not planned for my location, so this became my only option. Having portable BB works out for housecalls to dial-up customers as Sprint only registers the device and not the PC. Dont leave home without it...

beechC23
beechC23

I have the same dilemma, I am located about 5 km from the limit of broadband (DSL) in my area. The ONLY solution for me has been Ka band satellite (which is 1 mbps down and 256k up). But the problem with that is cost, at $100 per month. The only way I can justify it: with broadband I can telecommute from home 4 of 5 days a week, and since my commute was a long one, I am saving a ton of money overall. Bell is a joke; rural Canada doesn't exist for them, and the dial-up service they offer is a bad joke. They don't invest in the infrastructure, so connect speeds are often ridiculous, line drops are frequent, sometimes you can't get onto the server, etc etc. Satellite is not ideal either though: thunderstorms, heavy snow, FAP restrictions, and unexpected system outages have caused quite a bit of frustration, but not quite as much as dial-up. There is still the lag time issue but at least I can download large files in reasonable time. For gaming or VOIP it is as much as useless but for work it's the only solution right now.

john.decoville
john.decoville

Hire Al Gore who brought Wide-Band Internet Service (did not invent it) to Rural U.S. This is a real tribute to what one obsessed person in high office can get done. Bring Al Gore to Federal Parliament ( if he isn't too busy saving the world) and do some arm-twisting to get rural areas on the same footing as urban. In the U.S., this has enabled consulting, software, call centers and mail-order catalogs companies the option to set up shop far from urban boundaries. That means Jobs! Unintended consequences in the US: 1. Huge surge in Photo-Voltaic orders. Yes! Solar. It works in the Yukon too. 2. New allies for environmental protection. 3. Bad news for rural polluters. Also, there are some satellite alternatives that really work. Do have some of those in Rural Ontario? Cheers! --John

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Hire Al Gore who brought Wide-Band Internet Service (did not invent it) to Rural U.S.[/i] You must be joking. Much of the "Rural U.S." I'm familiar with barely has wired telephone service; cable or cell service are someplace else. I'm talking about areas away from the major cities and their suburbs where the towns are more than 15-20 miles apart and the available wireless network between them is "No Service." The only reason Ma Bell went there was because it was required by law and they did it via microwave link. Drive up I-17 to Flagstaff and ask the people who live more than 10 miles from the Interstate what kind of broadband access they have. Or did I miss a tag?

cavlosnap
cavlosnap

You could move to Sask. I hear they have broadband just about everywhere. Seriously though In Ontario (where I live too) I suspect the problem is due to the fact that Ma Bell and its near monopoly on wire line in rural areas has stifled even DSL in most rural areas. Where I live there is cable BB(good and not too pricey) wireless BB (very expensive)and Bell dial up (what can I say) and G2 wireless (marginal even for voice where I am). Seven years ago I worked a govt agency with a lot of telecom dealings on Ont, north of the French river. Even to get 56k dial-up was a problem. Bell was not interested in any upgrades unless someone else paid full cost.

mosw
mosw

Wimax (or something close) is coming to rural Canada. I just subscribed to "Rogers Portable Internet" (see rogers.com). This allows me to get 1.5 Mb/sec internet at my cottage in Muskoka, and it also works in Toronto. The wimax antennas are on most existing cell towers so it depends on how close you are to one of them. Rogers plans are $25 or $45/Month and I got the hardware modem free at futureshop with no contract. Had it for a few months, so far so good. Bell Sympatico has just introduced a similar service.

cavlosnap
cavlosnap

you are kidding right? Toronto is rural? I've been told by natives (of Toronto) that it is the centre of the universe. Where else does the Army show up when it snows? And Muskoka? It is just Rosedale with really big lots.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I didn't read it to imply that Toronto is rural only that WiMax is coming to rural areas *and* is (or will be) available in Toronto. This to illistrate that "Rogers Portable" will work with the same modem in both locations. Actually, it clarified the "Rogers Portable" service for me as I couldn't figure out why I'd want a highspeed modem I could carry around house to setup in different locations. :)

drmikemiles
drmikemiles

Thanks so much for this information. I am currently in China for a month or so but when I get back I'll subscribe and try it out. Even better if there is no contract - lets me try to real goods. Again, thanks so much fofr this info. Mike Miles

darcyi
darcyi

I hear you buddy! I'm living near London, ON and am in a broadband desert. Even if I could get it, it's way overpriced in my opinion. D'Arcy Irvine

cavlosnap
cavlosnap

come on even Woodstock has cable tv doesn't it?

dgontard
dgontard

Boy, do I hear ya! Our dial-up really sucked big-time: 21.6kbps, 26.1kbps on a good day (DSL is not an option here). I talked to Bell and was told it would be _5 years_ before it would get any better. I was paying for 128Kbps and getting just enough bandwidth to download my e-mail (without attachments). We found a licensed wireless broadband supplier out of Brockville and it's been AWESOME! (That's the cell-tower-looking system with the retangular dishes on the houses). It's faster than the internet connection I have at the office and the DSL I had in the city and only a little more than I was paying for DSL. We rent our equipment because it only makes sense when Mother Nature decides a wind-storm would be a good thing. Anyway, these guys do exist, but you sometimes have to go look for them. The City of Ottawa has a listing of rural internet providers and ours is not on the list. We got a flyer in the mail and took it from there. My only piece of advice is look for the company that does a sight-line survey for free, first. Some ISPs charge up to $100 to do this for you.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If I remember correctly, direct to home satalite internet tends to be a fast download and slow upload. That may be fine depending on how much outgoing data you need though. It may also have changed as this was a few years back when I last looked.

ct1099-koci
ct1099-koci

I'm not THAT far from the cities, but cable is so unreliable (less than 50%) that no one uses it. My satelite goes out every time there's a storm. The phone company charges an abosolute fortune for DSL on a landline. Heck, I can't even get my cell phone to work unless I drive down the street. So I guess I might be better off in Alaska?

Eternal
Eternal

I don't know the exact technology they're using here, but it involves Cell type towers, dishes on the users home or office. Works decent, price is $40-$130/mo depending on the package. Price per Mbit speed is more than DSL, but when your only other option is dilaup, people tend to pay.. also they look, base DSL is $35/mo, these guys want $40/mo for their base package, but they don't realize DSL spad is 1.5Mbit down 512Kbit up, these guys is 768Kbit down, 256Kbit up.

AKHandyman
AKHandyman

I am constantly overcharged for DSL in my neck of the woods, the lovely interior of Alaska. I was told that as soon as my phone company gets a fiber-optic patch to the lower 48, then I could see a reduction in my DSL charge. However, the satellite companies are boasting about broadband, but when I check into service for Alaska, I am told that they don't quite have it "up and running" for Alaska ... I believe we are only 1% of their market share, so why the rush?

drmikemiles
drmikemiles

We're in the same sort of territory. I am north of Kingston and I barely get cell connection on Rogers "expanded" area format. Ah...life. Mike

tony
tony

I know we have heard this before, but it is now far more likely to happen. HP is positioning itself in that direction. The very cheap basic laptops you showed in the article, plus terminal server and WiMax, I have a scheme that makes it cheap and easy to have my mobile workers on line to the basic apps they need in a secure way. I don't have to worry about whether or not their home PCs are secure - I give them a cheap locked down laptop with as little software as possible, minimising my need for patching etc. There is only downside to this approach - the large amount of licensing I have to pay to Microsoft now exceeds all other costs.

lastchip
lastchip

you need to reappraise just what your mobile workers need to achieve. Most need email and Internet access, an office application and very little else, all of which can be comfortably achieved in Linux. As the article stated, the Eee PC already comes with Linux and hence licensing costs are minimal if anything at all. Why companies are still paying megabucks to Microsoft, is a little puzzling.

rocky
rocky

I run a small business in financial services and I have a tech background from many years back. I've become introduced to Linux (Ubuntu) this year and have studied where it appears to be going in general, the strengths and weaknesses, the use of virtual environments and thin clients. I am most fascinated by the use of thin clients running Linux as a cost effective method of streamlining my office functions. The bills for IT support, hardware, software upgrades/subscriptions all come out of my budget. My next IT move will be to virtualization as needed and to thin clients using select open source software as well as expanding my use of hosted VoIP PBXs. I would like to see IT professionals in my area offer greater support for educating the small to medium size business person on how to reduce cost using open source and thin clients - or using Microsoft and thin clients - depending upon the unique customer service needs. I believe there are some phenomenal opportunities for an IT professional to educate and serve the small to medium business customer to help them become more competitive in the local market place and beyond. I also believe there could be a need for virtual work spaces for information workers who want to telecommute. I do this now I realize an extra 2.5 hours productive time, a savings of $750 per month in fuel costs, fewer reams of printer paper (electronic documents and e-signatures) and 100% less stress from traffic. One particular Linux thin client box requires only 8 watts of power and can be attached to the back of an LCD monitor - and with wireless connectivity - Now I'm saving on office space OR allowing for a more spacious and relaxing work environment. I really believe an innovative tech person coupled with a good sales person could make a positive difference in the world today.

cavlosnap
cavlosnap

Once upon a time in the long ago there was a service delivery mechanism called time-sharing. Timesharing systems were sold by DEC (later to become Compaq and then to become dead), IBM and WANG (now dead) and HP among others. No matter how fast the connection speeds or how quickly the system responded it was not enough. Also users wanted at least a sense of control. Then along came the PC. In the beginning nobody including myself, saw the impact. IBM certainly didn't nor the others mentioned. The real irony is that what mainframes that exist are being built out of multiples of the same processors that drive PCs. As to the virtual office I understand from the literature that the concept is like the paperless office, not going anywhere. People seem to be herd animals and enjoy and need to meet face to face. Why do people fly half-way around the world to meet with colleagues for a half day? The charm of airport security personnel, their genteel body cavity searches looking for toothpaste tubes and 13 hours even in business or first class is not a nice way to spend ones time. I wish you luck with your plans but please be prepared for a lot of resistance both overt and covert.

lastchip
lastchip

there's some truth in what you say about coherence. But I can remember when you had to choose very carefully components that would work well together in Windows and to some extent, that is true of Linux today. For example, most "all in one" printers are a non-starter, though many "normal" printers work perfectly. Scanners are another area of difficulty. But all this is a result of manufacturers consistently ignoring Linux and with large computer manufacturers jumping on the Linux band wagon, I think it's about to change. Manufacturers like Dell, will require their peripherals to work and that should produce suitable drivers for additional hardware.

jk2001
jk2001

If you need 5 separate apps to do some important taks, and two people need access to it... are you going to perform 10 separate installs? Not if you use thin client access to the machine with the apps installed.

jk2001
jk2001

I've been remoting into the server with the RDP client that comes with Ubuntu Linux. It works well. Certainly well enough to do light office work. VNC also works, but is a tad slower. Still, it's a must-have technology on the LAN. X is old, but it still works well, if you have a Unix server. There's definitely some huge advantages to going to the "semi-dumb terminal" mode of operation. You can use Linux as a decent front-end, with Firefox and Evolution or Thunderbird (email), and an RDP client to access corporate apps via a terminal server. This can seriously cut down on admin costs, because Linux workstation configuration, once it's scripted, is much faster than Windows. There's no license fees either. You can use the old hardware forever, and plow the money into getting an expensive 4-way or 8-way server with a lot of RAM. The main downside is that the entire desktop experience doesn't cohere. USB devices don't show up, clipboards don't always copy, and it all doesn't quite work. That is a solvable problem, and as it's solved, it'll change the way we look at our workstations.

petrasys
petrasys

I agree. What I am also seeing is that the thin client can limit worker's access to sensitive data. This appeared with Point of Sale. Although there is authentication with POS systems such as Quicken, when I present the thin client (running on a Newoware box) there is a much better reception than all data on the same box that implements the POS.