Desktop and Tablet user interface is converging and pretty fast …

Ok, I have to admit that the title of this post reads a bit sensational but it could have not be more clear to me after diving a bit more on the latest changes on software tools I am used to deal with everyday and getting surprised for its latest developments. I am normally pretty conservative in respect of technology adoption but always curious on what is happening on the edge of things I normally use. From time to time I get encouraged for the findings while reading respected reviews and blogs and fall into riding tools and operating systems that are a bit far from mature for the common developer and user.

My preferred desktop operating system is Ubuntu Linux which of course I am still running its “Lucyd Lynx – 10.04 LTS” version and patiently waiting for the next long term supported version. This time while browsing over topics related to “Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)” the most recent intermediate release, discussions about Canonical decision for pushing “Unity” user interface over the expected “GNOME Shell” just popped up big.  Wait, a bunch of techies are also complaining about Genome Shell and promptly finding their ways to enable GNOME2 like desktop, this is interesting. What is up with these Unity/GNOME Shell that is causing these much turmoil around early adopters of an ever changing Linux distribution.

Cool, it just happen that both user interfaces rely on GNOME3 platform but Unity and GNOME Shell designs are not only pretty constrained and less configurable than their predecessor GNOME2 desktop which might explain why early adopters are ranting. Behind these new user interfaces the keyword is “convergence” both user interfaces are now ready to support the Tablet world while still fully serving the Desktop computing needs. More important the environment is currently supporting hybrid touch systems such as workstations running touch panel displays, thin/net books touch display capable and Linux base tablets. Now everything is clear, the convergence point claims that the new user interface should be suitable for both sides the Desktop and the tablet so the design should be constrained to the middle point where desktop user’s would accept giving up flexibility and configure-ability for standardization around the gestures driven touch displays world while still fully supporting the always trusty keyboard and mouse.

As you can imagine this convergence can not be called a trend if it is only happening at the “Dark side” usually embraced by technology geeks rather than mainstream consumer world but for my surprise it only took me few keywords on Google to find out that Canonical is not alone.

 

Google’s Android ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) 4.0 release is the tip of the iceberg of mobile and desktop converge pushed from the ground.Android is poised not only to cover the mobile market (phones/tablets/net-books) with an unified interface. This operating system has been built mobile since it inception and slowly but surely penetrating  an unlimited amount of network connected devices and appliances staring with television sets and other consumer electronics.

 

 

Apple is also desperately narrowing down the breach between its iPads and iMac user experience by adding “Gestures” and “VoiceOver Gestures” to OS X Lion’s  Magic Trackpad/Mouse support. So next is to add touch screen to iMac’s and MacBooks which I sincerely do not understand why it has not happen already.

 

 

 

Microsoft is also betting on the “Convergence” topic with its so expected Windows 8 that claims to offer similar experience all across the board from Windows phone, tablets and all the way up to regular Desktop PCs. What is interesting from the Microsoft bet? Is the open support for ARM architecture mostly drove by Nokia agreement but a step forward to the big mobile world. A quote from Wikipedia: “In particular it adds support for ARM microprocessors in addition to the previously supported x86 microprocessors from Inteland AMD. A new Metro-style interface has been added that was designed for touchscreen input in addition to mouse, keyboard, and pen input.”

 

Trends are usually accompanied by business and financial support, this “convergence” trend is not the exception when for the first time a serious market analysis firm such as “canalys” challenged IDC, Gartner and others and decide to consolidate Mobile and Desktop computers into one “Personal Computer” market and posting numbers on Q4-2011 that places Apple as #1 PC maker surpassing Hewlett Packard for a considerable margin. The article titled: “Apple storms past HP to lead global PC market“.

 

 

 

So, there is only on thing to assess, either you decide go with the current or against but at the end we all will be push forward to follow a trend that seems un-avoidable now. Welcome Unity then!

 

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