Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Future (part something or other)

I have seen the future, and it does not include us. Most of us, anyway.

Eli 11.4 increasingly needed the use of a computer for his schoolwork. I could have built him one, but the advantages of a notebook these days are undeniable. Then, when he saw an ultrabook convertible (notebook, converts to a tablet), that was immediately what he wanted.

Yes, I know that's ridiculous, except for one thing: I could play builds of Gridiron Solitaire on the tablet, since it runs Windows 8, and programs don't have to be Metro compatible to run in Windows 8.

That's probably all wrong, since I haven't tried it yet, but anyway, he got an ultrabook for Christmas.

Now, I understand that we all hate Windows 8. With a mouse, it's a nightmare. As soon as Eli started using the ultrabook, though, he was swiping and tapping on the touchscreen like he'd been doing it all his life. He was immediately, totally comfortable with the interface, and it was fast. Incredibly fast--with him at the helm, anyway.

That moment explained the future to me.

Microsoft couldn't care less if we hate Windows 8 when using a mouse and a regular monitor. Irrelevant. In five years, almost every monitor sold will be a touchscreen. In five years, a regular interface will be slow and archaic. In five years, we will all be used to this, because Microsoft dragged us forward.

Eli, and most other kids in his generation, has been using a touchscreen for most of his life. A mouse is positively clunky in comparison. Seriously, a notebook that bends over backwards and becomes a tablet? That is some Star Trek level shit.

The mouse, which is my choice for the most ingenious peripheral in the history of computing, is on life support.

Of course, if you think about it, a touchscreen makes a mouse obsolete, doesn't it? The mouse controls a cursor that "touches" things onscreen because we couldn't touch them ourselves. The touchscreen just eliminates the middleman.

Microsoft is so far ahead of the curve on this, and while you may think they're foolish now, that would be very, very incorrect. They are unmistakeably, positively brilliant this time, and in 2-3 years, everyone else is going to figure it out. Every Windows device will use essentially the same Metro-type interface, and we will be flying around that interface at lightspeed compared to using a mouse.

And you know what else? We're going to like it, too.

Here's what else is going to happen: more and more apps like Adera, which has this feature:
Play, Pause, Resume – start a game on any device, pause the game, and then pick up where you left off on any other compatible device.

Playing a game on the computer and don't want to stop playing, even when you're in your car? Just keep playing it on your phone, or your tablet. They should call this feature "continuous play", because that's what it promises, really.

That's a damned exciting future. Hell, it makes me want to go out and buy a touchscreen monitor right now.

[SIDEBAR: Of course, after Microsoft blazes the trail for years on this, Apple will announce a touchscreen Mac like it's a brand new technology that no one has ever used before, and people will believe them. Six months later, a majority of people will believe that Apple invented touchscreen technology, and that Microsoft is copying them.]

Explosive sales in the future for touchscreen monitors might also serve as a lifeline for struggling Japanese firms that are billions of dollars in the red, although having a market and profiting from that market are two different things entirely. Sharp and Sony would seem to have an opportunity, though.

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