The State of Modern Computing

I have been working on two clients’ computers over the past few days and I have come to a conclusion:

The only way to avoid malware is to not use Windows.

Now, I’ve had my bouts with hating Windows, but this post isn’t going to be completely about me.

What I want to know is, what kind of a system allows users to mess it up so quickly and easily?

The first thought along this lines is that users should know better. Well, I think that this is a narrow view of the larger problem. Sure, the users should know that there aren’t piles of cash in Nigeria with their name on it, but with the proliferation of the PC as a staple in the home, why should it be up to the users to keep their systems in line?

Here’s the deal: 90% of computer users have the intellectual level of our 43rd President. Maybe this sounds a bit harsh, but I’m getting to a point here.

Software developers need to develop software as if their users were poorly trained monkeys.

It’s not enough to have a computer on every desktop and in every home, as Microsoft’s mission statement reads. Their–and every other OS vendor’s–mission statement needs to be something like this:

A secure, fun, easy to use computer on every desktop and in every home.

I have been using Linux and Mac OS X for a long time, and I don’t want to go on about how Microsoft screws this up royally, as the alternatives are most definitely not without fault.

The platform-agnostic view of a new operating system to fit the masses would have to draw from each of the alternatives out there. Security (whether by obscurity or not) should be the number one goal. Clicking on a pop-up should not be able to install software on a computer that will slow it down drastically, causing problems in any number of unforeseen places throughout the user experience.

The abstract concepts used today in the modern desktop may be fairly easy to understand to anyone who can do some basic problem solving, but the truth is that we are still stuck with concepts that have existed since every personal computer ran on command-line only interfaces. There is no way to teach users who only want to have a computer as an appliance that they need to care for their systems and avoid unforeseen circumstances by controlling their actions.

Most users whom I’ve done business with are surprised at the amount of work that it takes to actually keep a system in a state of usability for any extended period of time. There is something fundamentally wrong with this mindset in the computing world today.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone should use the same system which doesn’t allow them to screw things up, therefore never learning from their actions. I’m saying that users should be given a choice between ease of use and security, and ease of use and flexibility.

Notice what just happened in that last sentence? The key element to a computing system from here into the future needs to be ease of use. If a person is given an easy to use interface to work with, one without all of the distractions, security questions, malware, system slowdown and concepts that are beyond their comprehension, their productivity and the profitability of the system increase ten fold.

There are lots of projects out there that are working toward this goal, but nothing I have come across completely achieves that standard.

gOS is a product that I see as making great strides into usability and simplicity. gOS is provided with extremely low initial cost systems, and gives the user a simple, yet modern, interface to work with. The future of computing may be systems that run out of the browser and are completely operating system agnostic.

What I Want To See
So, after all of that wind up, what do I want to see in the future of computing? As I see it, a computer needs 4 things in order to meet or exceed the expectations of the user, regardless of the user’s computing experience:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Security
  3. Customization
  4. Compatibility

Having put these criteria out there, I want to hear more discussion about why these things are important, and what we as developers are going to do about it.

I ask that the readers get off their high horse, put down their mouse for a minute, and let the rest of the world know what you think, and what you are going to do about it. This is an ultimatum for those of you with ideas for the future to express yourself and let everyone in the world know that things are indeed moving forward.

I want to see blogs, news, tweets, forum posts, anything you can produce and send my way. Let your mind go wild with the possibilities. There needs to be a wide-reaching, open discussion about this, and the only way to facilitate that is to get things started. I am planning on a few more posts about this subject and each of the criteria I laid out, and I hope that you, too will join me in this push.