One last barrier to cloud dominance – User interface design

December 4, 2010

So, as some of you may know, I have somewhat of a passion for Cloud Computing. I believe that it is the future as far as operating systems go.

I have also written before about how I see Apple and Google giving Microsoft a real run for their money when it comes to this particular area.

I started to think strategically about cloud offerings and which company would really be able to present the ideal offering for consumers and the answer turned out (again) to be a company that I didn’t expect.


I’ll start with the others and get to why I believe that Apple has the best chance at developing the first wildly successful mainstream cloud OS.


My gut tells me that Windows 8 will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They will have a revised cleaner UI and will have some nifty plugins to the cloud but I suspect that for true cloud design, we will have to wait for Windows 9 in 2016.

For many reasons (some reasonable and some not so much) Microsoft moves cautiously and a little more slowly than this move would require. They tend to make smaller, reasonable and business focused changes to their core Windows product.

For that reason, it doesn’t seems as if they will do something that will radically change the way people work and look at a desktop/laptop.


Google doesn’t have to worry about the corporate concerns when they build Chrome. They do have the luxury of having some space to try and make a good and new product but from the prototypes of the Chrome OS that I have seen, it seems that they are making a similar mistake to Microsoft. they are taking very cautious, natural and intuitive steps.

Think about the Chrome demos, they are starting from a very safe and logical place, the Chrome Browser.

While that may seem to make sense, it hardly seems very revolutionary and in fact, because people have the actual browser to compare it to, it seems clunky and a little awkward.

I believe they have an announcement to make on the 7th of this month and we will see if we are wowed by whatever they release.

The bottom line is, they are starting from a place that seems logical and safe TO THEM and doesn’t seem very Innovative.


Their slogan says it all. Think different.

In order to have a runaway success at a new cloud OS, I believe that a company would have to do what Steve Jobs is best at – starting from scratch.

That company would need to step back and ignore all the conventional paradigms on the market right now and ask – what does the end user need **even if the end user doesn’t know it yet**

That company would have to take bold steps that haven’t been taken before because ultimately, all that will matter about the successful cloud operating system is..

The User Interface

I will stick my neck out here and say Windows Light will not work and Google Chrome may not work but Apple hands down have the best UI experts in the world.

I have an Ipad and I have an HTC Evo 4g phone. If  When Verizon come out with an Iphone, I will get one immediately because only Apple have the secret sauce that forms a bond between humans and their gadgets.

Ultimately, the successful cloud OS will have to do more than just be functional (Chrome will be functional), it’s going to need something that makes people want to do their business in the cloud and not locally on their PC.

It’s going to have to be more than just something that users use once in a while like DropBox or any other cute cloud app. It’s going to need to be something that intuitively makes so much sense, people will make and demand the switch.

Based on what Apple did with the Iphone UI, I believe that they are the only company who could create an intuitive, functional, usable cloud OS in a reasonable time frame.

Remember that  every other mobile phone has copied portions or all of the elements that made the Iphone work. Even RIM are struggling trying to be more Iphone like.

In a subsequent post, I’ll explain in detail what I see as the path to an Apple Cloud OS in partnership with Dell.

Love to hear what you think…

Oh.. FYI I have no relationship with Apple, paid or otherwise…

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  • I do agree that Apple always seems to trounce the competition when it comes to usability, but if you take a look at the new Windows Phone 7 UI and its ease of use it’s pretty good. Microsoft will probably ripoff some elements of the Apple cloud computing capabilities, that seems to be the best approach from them to take. If Microsoft is able to follow through this time on its newest WP7 tile design with its ease of use I could see them being a very credible competitor, but then again Microsoft seems to require a few hiccups before getting things right. I’m still somewhat annoyed that Microsoft killed its Live Mesh service, that had some great potential to evolve into a credible platform for cloud computing.

    Tamerlain December 8, 2010 9:12 am Reply
  • Sorry i don’t believe in the viability of cloud O.S until at least 5 years.
    Do not forget that not everyone has a fast and reliable web connexion. In some countries such as mine it is really a luxury and it will be for the years to come.
    Even in a country such as France, there a lot of areas where it is also a luxury, not forgetting that thanks to the explosion of mobile devices there is a saturation of the networks.
    Thus cloud O.S will not be a viable solution even in 2012 according to me.
    I think that the best solution are hybrid O.S which could be fully usable offline but could fully take advantage of the could when they are online.
    For example the O.S should support:
    *Online and offline accounts
    *Silent and continuous updates without need to reboot
    *Full support of web apps and of smart client at the O.S level,etc…

    Timiteh December 19, 2010 7:16 am Reply

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