Divining the Future of the Client Desktop Environment

Thin computing. Software as a service. Does the bell toll for the computer desktop environment as we know it?

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While the overall computing trend may be to move more and more applications onto the Web, there are a number of attendant issues to be resolved before the enterprise can move freely in that direction as well. Perhaps Ballmer is right...or perhaps instead, the type of hybrid model that will evolve will see online applications running in much the same way but served within the corporate intranet.

Perhaps Microsoft can only lose market share...but it may also be able to shore up the enterprise desktop market it already has by making the opposite play to a company like ZOHO, where the desktop/Web integration is approached from the desktop out rather than from the Web in. In painting the distinction this way, though, the orientation is user-centric rather than group-centric. We'll see how it plays out.

For now, the battle for the desktop may have taken a significant turn, with the application platform becoming less and less relevant to the discussion as our conception of the desktop environment begins to change. The enterprise for the time being is most likely to hold to the status quo and slowly add some Web-enabled services as imagined by Microsoft...but there are already some early adopters to be watching out for. Concerning all the moving toward collaboration and sharing, there are still times when you want to be left alone to get some work done. For those times, surely someone along the way will come up with a virtual Do Not Disturb sign that works better than those in the real world.

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Brent Toderash is a freelance writer with a background as an owner and manager in Internet and IT consulting. He maintains his blog somewhat regularly at toderash.net.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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