Monday, February 28, 2011

Android for Laptops?

A lot of the software we run today, ran fine back in the days when all we had under the hood was a 350MHz and 64GB of RAM. No matter how fast our processors become and how much RAM we utilize, Microsoft always manages to come up with an operating system to make us want to buy faster and faster hardware. Basically, Intel wants to sell newer faster hardware and Microsoft is happy to come out with a heavier operating system. True, we have gone a long way from DOS. But the migration from DOS to Windows 95 was by leaps and bounds. Windows 95 to Windows 7, is really just a series of small incremental increases. It is much better, but not all that revolutionary. 

I use two laptops, with modest specifications, one running MacOSX and the other running Ubuntu Linux. Both these operating systems are faster and run on hardware where Windows would  crawl. And felt those two were more efficient operating systems than Windows. The arrival of Apple's iPad last year showed just how much you can do with a power efficient 1GHz single core processor and 256MB of RAM. Roughly, this is less than 15% of the power you have in  the typical entry level Intel Core i3 laptop today. It is starting to make me wonder if what we need is a different operating system and a different architecture for ultraportable notebooks.  But it does not look like anyone is going to do that. 

At 2.3 pounds, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is an amazing piece of hardware, limited
by the 5-hour battery life. I would really love to see a dual core ARM version running
a "less capable" OS but with 10-16 hour battery life.

Apple has iOS and OSX, so I do not see them coming up with this new lighter operating system personal computer operating system for laptops. MeeGo is backed by Intel, so I do not think that they would want to make that competitor of Windows powered computers. Google's Android would be the best choice, choice if you could get them back from the clouds with their Chrome OS.

While there have been a fair number of light efficient Linux based operating systems, the lack of a ecosystem of software developers has prevented it from taking hold. Android already has a developers flocking to it in droves and millions of users familiar with the operating system. Imagine an Android 3.0 on a ultraportable laptop with a keyboard and touchscreen? It is not like keyboards will no be available the Motorola XOOM and Samsung Galaxy 10.1. If you have gone from the 3.7-inch mobile phone to the 10.1-inch tablet, why not add an 11.6-inch and 13.3 inch laptop to the mix.

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