Christoph Hochstrasser

We Power Users are going to be the 80 percent

Recent OS releases follow some kind of trend: they all try to make the desktop more usable for normal users. But with the rapid adoption of tablets, the power users will be left as the 80 percent who use desktops at all.

The recent announcement that all Apps distributed through the Mac App Store must run in a sandbox beginning with March 2012 has had a huge echo in the tech world. I think it’s not a big deal though, because Microsoft is restricting API access for all apps distributed through their store too with Windows 8.

It marks a trend: everyone is trying to make their desktop operating systems more approachable for normal users. Apple did it with Lion and the Mac App Store, Microsoft is doing it with Windows 8, and Canonical does it with Ubuntu.

The Desktop is dead — for most People

Though what got me thinking is, that they’re bringing these paradigms of mobile operating systems to the desktop, but fail to see, that the only ones who are going to be left using PCs are we Power Users.

Don’t get me wrong: I like when things are simple, and Just Work™.

Everyone else will use tablets, because normal users can now do everything on a tablet, that they would have traditionally done on a computer (and with less maintenance and hassle by the way).

Let’s face it. I say 80% of people use a computer to do exactly these things:

  • Web Browsing
  • Email
  • Simple Office Work (making simple printouts, presentations)
  • Hear music, see videos

And they can do these things on a tablet without

  • worrying about malware
  • worrying about hardware (including which hardware to buy)
  • worrying about software and operating systems
  • needing someone who maintains their system

So what’s left, that we can not do on tablets (yet):

  • Building Software (Compiling, running interpreters)
  • Things which tablets simply don’t have the horsepower to (animation, complex image editing, complex video processing, CAD)

Yeah, and that are exactly all Power User tasks.

(You could now say, these could be all offloaded to servers and made available to you on the tablet via remote access and the like — but if you would ever have done these things in the cloud and your internet is not so stable, then you would realize it’s a pain in the butt. And if you ever worked with infrastructure in the cloud, you would realize it’s not so easy as it seams.)

So the bottom line is:

Why do Microsoft and Apple (and recently also Canonical) do not embrace the Power Users on their Desktop OS, though we are in the near future the 80% of their users?

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