Cloud computing is something that many people still do not understand and it is something that is still not utilised to its fullest potential — not even close. Apple is beginning to make it more mainstream with its iCloud, but Windows 8 is set to be the thing that truly brings it to the masses. As the creators of the largest OS in the world, Microsoft’s foray into cloud computing will have a huge impact — but the company is taking things one step further than that. Microsoft is set to utilise cloud computing in the way it should be used and in a way that will completely transform computing around the world, on the move and within devices. The Windows 8 beta download will take you some way towards understanding this capability, but there remains some distance to travel before this integration is fully understood.
How the cloud is currently used
Cloud computing, in almost all cases, is used to only a minuscule amount of its potential. The iCloud and other cloud systems basically treat the cloud as a storage system. Apple is very proud of the fact that if you take a picture on your iPhone it will also be stored on your computer by the time you get home. This is a great system, but it is far more simple than cloud computing should really be.
The reason this is too simple is that the cloud continues to rely entirely on the processing and storage capabilities of the iPhone and iOS computer. The photo is taken and stored on the iPhone. From here it is then uploaded to the cloud, where it remains as a backup. Then it is downloaded and stored on the iOS computer, as long as it is switched on. All in all, this ‘simple’ process creates three copies of exactly the same thing and saves them in various places. This is, to date, the full extent of any common usage of cloud computing.
How cloud computing should be used (and will be by Windows 8.)
Windows 8 beta and the discussions about SkyDrive with Microsoft have shown that Microsoft is at least attempting to use cloud computing properly. The Windows 8 system has created a cross-platform connection that works even better than the ‘iConnection’ discussed above. By adjusting the system to operate on an ARM-based chip, the OS has been reduced to a level where the same platform can be used across multiple devices. This is merely a steppingstone towards enabling the correct usage of cloud, but it is also a huge one for the traditionally high demanding Windows OS.
Cloud is then incorporated into this cross-platform system through SkyDrive. The SkyDrive App principle is that all software, apps and data will be stored in SkyDrive. This does not mean it will be backed up in SkyDrive and stored on the owner’s computer, Xbox, Phone and Tablet as well; it literally means it will be stored in SkyDrive. While the new OS will not immediately eliminate the need for internal processing and storage, this system is well on the way towards doing so. This means the processing and storage requirements of anything from games to images can be dealt with externally so that the devices can become smaller, faster and sleeker. This will not entirely be the case to begin with, because people need time to adjust to surrendering their data and processing, but Windows 8 is a huge leap towards changing computing forever.
The reason Windows 8 is exciting is because it is turning the mobile item from a device into a window through which you can view, access and edit your virtual computer. It is somewhat like a remote desktop, but there need never be a desktop computer that acts as the base because SkyDrive will host everything.