Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32’s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8’s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

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VirtualBox the open-source solution for desktop virtualization

VirtualBox is an impressive, open-source, desktop virtualization software. Available for Linux, OS X and Windows, VirtualBox allows you to run a different operating system on your machine, within a virtual environment. So for example, you could have Linux running on your Windows machine.

When you get something for free, you expect it to be lacking in some way, compared to commercial products which tend to have more features or more support. VirtualBox is surprising in that it is gives far more than you would expect, and is a real contender in the virtualization arena. Some of the VirtualBox features include the ability to move VMs between host systems dynamically, branched snapshots, and 32 way virtual SMP support.

What started out as a small virtualization project for individual users, has developed into a competitor in the enterprise sector. It still has some issues to sort out to make it as intuitive as it´s competitors, but remains one of the most comprehensive free apps available. Enterprises may still prefer to go with a commercial solution, but VirtualBox is an excellent option for users who do not want to pay commercial fees.

read full review | download VirtualBox

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MacBook Air refresh and OS X Lion to be launched next week

It seems the new MacBook Air and the new OS X Lion from Apple will be launched at the same time next week (probably on 14th of July), rumors say. So Apple will ship the new Macs along with Lion.

It makes sense, because the new OS X Lion will bring plenty of enhancements and new features, that complements very well the new Macbook Air, including iCloud services, iOS-style Launchpad, full-screen apps, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off. Lion will only be available via Apple’s Mac App Store only for just $30. Many users with multiple Macs may need to take note of instructions here to help ease the installation process.

The MacBook Air refresh will probably include 19nm 400Mbps mSATA. The mSATA connector allows a flash drive to be slotted directly on to the motherboard taking up very little space, reaching speeds of 400Mbps while using less power. The MacBook Air refresh will come with the new Thunderbolt, the fastest I/O technology that supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single, compact port. Also the processors will be upgraded to the latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors and integrated Intel graphics: Core i5 and i7.

If you’re thinking about buying a Mac or a MacBook, wait for a few more days. I know I will 🙂 .

MacBook Air

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A cross-platform task management tool with style and attitude.

Day after day our schedule becomes overcrowded either at home or at the office. Some of us use a secretary to schedule the daily activity and some of us use smartphones as a task management tool by improvising a reminder with the help of the memo and calendar function. But what if you choose to use none of these solutions and replace them with a free cross-platform application? read the full review

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