Most every basic tool in the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system seems to be a (cloud) service, rather than an application. Instead of being able to just start and configure Outlook e-mail application for one’s existing e-mail account, provided by a local company, one is forced to create an outlook.com account to get the mail-icon to work. I would hope and assume that one can read and prepare e-mails even when one is not connected to the internet, but it is not obviously so in the user interface experience. Also the address book looks like a cloud service that stores your contact information at a server of your choice. One’s local computer is not an option for a server.
It may be that after registering to these services, the applications actually work very locally, but the initial experience didn’t give this sensation. The new interface of cloud services clouds the user’s sense of “where are you?” It’s not clear that one’s address book is on one’s own hard drive. It actually appears quite likely that the personal information of one’s acquaintances get deposited in Microsoft’s cloud servers.
This is not the trend of operating systems alone. It is also the preference of many users. People love, how smart phones support synchronizing with Facebook event calendar and Google Calendar services. At least I do. But, when people forget where they are, they can accidentally delete important public announcements. While thinking of of just deleting events from their own personal schedule, they forget that the part of the calendar is actually a public calendar. Instead of taking down a refrigerator note at home, one ends up taking down all the public posters around town that were advertising the public event.
Desktop operating systems are being raced to mimic the mobile operating systems. Apple OS X has introduced App Store and Launchpad which appear familiar to iOS users. I would assume that Windows 8 too has an application to purchase and install software in the new Start screen, which would be identical to Windows RT – the Microsoft operating system for mobile devices.
Both major operating system development companies are on the move to integrate the users’ devices together as seamlessly as possible. Apparently there shouldn’t be any distinction in which of one’s devices one has placed what data and what applications. They are to be always available in the very device one is currently operating, as far as the devices capabilities allow. With Apple products one can transfer one’s iPad and iPhone videos to show on your Apple TV screen. Same goes for playing music. Everything in the household is interconnected – ubiquitous.
There is a high risk of losing one’s sense of what device is what, and where one’s data, actions and even one’s person is. You meet a wonderful person in a bar and enter their phone number in your phone. The phone synchronizes itself through the Internet with your desktop computer at your home. Your desktop computer stores the data in the cloud of the operating system provider. Next your information comes up when someone does a web search for the other person, or the bar – because the operating system developers are also having web search engines as a part of their business.
Where are you, and where is your personal data? Google has promised to “do no evil”, but not the others.