While Windows owes much of its success to its flexibility and ease of use, a new computing model, chiefly heralded by Apple in the consumer space, is changing the proposition value for end users.
Apple’s iOS provides a closed operating system for the iPhone and iPad, where access to the core OS is limited and applications are downloaded via an application store, ensuring that only good quality and useful code can find its way onto devices. This model was recently dubbed curated computing in an article by Forrester researcher Sarah Rotman Epps, where she describes the future as one providing less choice, but more relevance.
Though curated computing has already found its opponents, citing too much control and the inability to take full advantage of the hardware, considering many people install applications of dubious quality that often degrade the overall computing experience, and half of which they never use, an application store provides users the flexibility to choose the programs they want while retaining some level of control to help guarantee performance and security.
The success of the iPhone and iPad suggests that users are willing to give up some flexibility in return for a more useful and reliable computing experience. This paradigm shift, especially when paired with application virtualization technologies, improves the balance between security and flexibility; and better provides for the deployment of systems that can run with standard user accounts. Curated computing changes the way we present a managed model to users, as the concept of advertising applications in the enterprise is not new.
We already know that Windows 8 will contain an AppStore but not whether it will extend to supporting application virtualization. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction for least privilege on the desktop and other form factors. We may even see a Windows SKU where the AppStore is the only means of installing programs on a device, leaving other editions of the OS for those who genuinely need a complete computing experience.