This is my vision of what computers could look like in the year 2029, because the technology most likely will be available to support it. But my vision may never see the light of day, because computer companies prioritize profits far above consumers' needs.
If you were somehow transported to the year 2029, the first thing you would notice about your computer would be that it's a cellphone. By that, I mean that your cellphone will not only be able to do everything a smartphone can do today, it will be able to plug into multiple user interfaces (all using the same standard port). One interface will look like a laptop. One interface will look like a desktop--with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and an adapter that has multiple ports of various kinds. And one interface will look like a television. There may also be an interface that looks like a stereo system, just for those audiophiles out there. This will mean that you will be able to carry one computer around with you all day and use it for any computing task that you want. This means no transferring of files from your laptop to your desktop to your phone, etc.
The next thing that you will notice about your computer is that it is very modular. You won't throw it away when its current configuration is obsolete, you'll upgrade it. You'll upgrade the CPU, the video card, install a longer-lasting battery, and change the screen. If the SSD and RAM are not the same chip, you'll replace or upgrade them separately. I'm sure the idea of this kind of modularity strikes intense fear into the hearts of all computer manufacturers everywhere. "How will we make a profit without built-in obsolescence?" they scream from their hiding places under their beds. "How will we claim our computer is better than every other manufacturer's computer, if they all look the same and have nearly identical features?" they whimper. The fact is, dear consumer, that computers are now well into the process of becoming mere commodities--like refrigerators, kitchen sinks, and the telephones of the 1980's. When this process is complete, it won't really matter which one you have (apart from quality issues, of course, because some manufacturers will always want to cut corners). As commodities, all computers will basically do the same things. This won't be as much fun for us when we go shopping for a new computer, but we won't be doing that nearly as often as we have in the past.
There is also a slim possibility that the computer will evolve further by 2029. It could become a silver-dollar-sized pendant that you wear around your neck. But this will probably not happen for another 20 or 30 years. When this does finally happen, computers will be so inexpensive that modularity won't be an issue anymore. We'll have no problem throwing away (i.e. recycling) our computers when we upgrade. But there will be no real need for that, because all consumer computers will be fungible, like wooden pencils or cheap, plastic pens. Their only distinguishing characteristics will be as jewelry.
In 2029, Microsoft will be nowhere to be seen in consumer computers. Like IBM before them, Microsoft will have completed the transition from a consumer-oriented company to a business-oriented company. The reason for this is that, with consumers exclusively using open source operating systems and software, Microsoft will have nothing to sell us. For example, they won't be able to sell their office software suite, that in my opinion is extremely over-priced, because consumers will have finally figured out that Microsoft Office software is nothing but a trap. We'll be using free, open source office software that will allow us to use even more standardized files. So, Larry will be able to do anything he wants to a document with his "Silver Sparrow" Office software, hand the file to Sam, and Sam will be able to open and edit that file on his "Pink Flamingo" Office software, do anything he wants, and hand it back. We are almost to that point now, but consumers have not yet caught on.
Software will also be much more standardized in other ways than it is today. We will no longer be willing to tolerate an internet browser that uses four times as much RAM--just because it can. And we will not tolerate CPU hogs bogging down our computers. This has already happened in the way we surf the internet. Today, if the average person goes to an unfamiliar website, and it takes more than about three seconds to bring up a page, he leaves and goes to another website that cares more about its user's experience. This is the way it should be! I'm very happy to see the average consumer being more educated about the type of experience they should be having with their computer and no longer being willing to tolerate anything sub par. This makes life better for all of us.
Computers will continue to become more user friendly. The computer nerds will still be able to do their own thing, of course. But the average consumer will be using a computer at a higher level than he does today. He won't be bogged down with learning how to use an operating system or the intricacies of an internet browser, because they will be more basic, and therefore simpler to use. The trend we have already seen with voice assistants like Alexa and Siri will continue and simplify their usage even more.
I could go on about this forever, but I'll refrain. We're all familiar with the myopic ways that our society has put computers to use in the past--ways that make our city, state, and national infrastructures more prone to hacking, computer warfare, and weather. Hopefully, even consumers will wise up and realize that their toaster's ability to access the internet just doesn't justify the fact that they'll have to throw that toaster away when it stops working because the manufacturer took their website off line three years after we bought it!
As I said, this is what computers could become in 2029. But they won't unless we force manufactures to make computers that meet our needs, not theirs. We can only do that if we come to understand what we are buying.
Copyright © 2018-2019 The Cheapskate's
Guide to Computers and the Internet. All rights reserved.