It’s time to have one operating system, and it will be Android. Yes, on everything. Google’s world domination will succeed.
There are two sets of things an OS does. It’s a user interface, app sandbox, and hardware abstraction. Android does these really, really well. It’s a fresh UI for fingers rather than mice. It’s the first to offer proper sandboxed security, so we can install apps written by random strangers, like we wanted to do since the 80s. It runs on everything and it’s free.
The other job of an OS is to be a deployment target for apps. A few years ago, the bulk and complexity of these APIs ensured the dominance of Windows. Now, the lock is breaking. Software is becoming a service. You don’t buy software, you download the app to access the service, or it’s just a Web page. Legacy software like Microsoft Office can run in VMs, or in the cloud.
I use a Mac today. Right now, it’s a better UI and sandbox than Windows. Last week in Japan I saw an ASUS two-piece Android laptop, where the screen detaches to be a tablet. As soon as Android gets a good form-factor and matures enough to run Windows VMs painlessly I’m switching to it, and so is everyone else!
Microsoft is sort of failing at the OS game. It holds business users and hardcore gamers, the two groups who use heavyweight apps, but the average customer has no reason to want a Windows PC. Apple could do all that Android does, but it decided to have no more than 10% share if the PC market – to get more it has to license the OS.
The new lock-in is not the CPU, since Intel won that one, and it’s not the bulk of the API either. Customers won’t invest in apps any more, only service providers will. The new lock is user identity – your Google account. Google fought that battle brilliantly and won.