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wswartzendruber
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:13 pm    Post subject: What Convergence Could Have Been Reply with quote

Quick Demo of "Composable Shell" on Windows 10 Mobile

For those who don't know, Composable Shell is a Microsoft initiative for a Windows 10 device to change how it presents itself to the user, depending on usage context.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so why Samsung succeded with its DeX station, Microsoft is still failing hard? No surprise.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

energyman76b wrote:
so why Samsung succeded with its DeX station, Microsoft is still failing hard? No surprise.

What does that have to do with Composable Shell? You're usually more coherent than this.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wswartzendruber wrote:
energyman76b wrote:
so why Samsung succeded with its DeX station, Microsoft is still failing hard? No surprise.

What does that have to do with Composable Shell? You're usually more coherent than this.


something like it has been done. Not by Microsoft. So they fucked up. Why did they fuck up? Maybe because since Windows NT4 they haven't done anything good or new?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

energyman76b wrote:
something like it has been done. Not by Microsoft. So they fucked up. Why did they fuck up? Maybe because since Windows NT4 they haven't done anything good or new?

If you had actually bothered to watch the video, you would realize that Continuum isn't something that's "been done," it's something that's "still happening."

And the notion that they haven't done anything new or original since NT4 is laughable at best.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They've done at least one thing nobody else would dare to in this century: delivered a GUI designed by middle management in PowerPoint.
As for what they haven't... Cairo goes at the top of the list. NTFS/FAT are showing their age.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ant P. wrote:
They've done at least one thing nobody else would dare to in this century: delivered a GUI designed by middle management in PowerPoint.

That's the whole point of the Fluent design system. To address this, rather.

Ant P. wrote:
As for what they haven't... Cairo goes at the top of the list.

All WPF rendering is vector-based to DirectX.

Ant P. wrote:
NTFS/FAT are showing their age.

NTFS is definitely showing its age, but these days, I'm using UDF for removable media. Windows 10 supports up to 2.60, I think.

Does anyone have anything to say as far as Canonical dropping Convergence when a major player is pursuing it full steam ahead? I can appreciate pissing on Microsoft (to a point, they deserve it). But I can't help but wonder if Canonical didn't shoot themselves by not seeing this through.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wswartzendruber wrote:

Does anyone have anything to say as far as Canonical dropping Convergence when a major player is pursuing it full steam ahead? I can appreciate pissing on Microsoft (to a point, they deserve it). But I can't help but wonder if Canonical didn't shoot themselves by not seeing this through.


I'm rather disappointed. Canonical's implementation was better. The greatest loss is a phone that actually allows the end user to replace all of the OS (and it is actually feasible to do so, as drivers are available).
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it amusing that in the early days of the web, it didn't take long before animated gifs were the laughing stock of the web. Now we have live tiles.

I can see how the interface can be used to work across platforms, but that doesn't make it a good UI for a desktop. Keystrokes are much better than having to grab a mouse to click on something and then switch back to the keyboard.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
I find it amusing that in the early days of the web, it didn't take long before animated gifs were the laughing stock of the web. Now we have live tiles.

I can see how the interface can be used to work across platforms, but that doesn't make it a good UI for a desktop. Keystrokes are much better than having to grab a mouse to click on something and then switch back to the keyboard.

So? Then use a keyboard. Tapping <WinKey> will activate the Cortana box to the right of Start. You can enter search terms, but you can also enter file system locations or the name of any executable in any of your PATH directories. You can also enter the first name of an app or application. So to launch most things, it's just <WinKey>, the first word of the name of the program, and then <Enter>. There is no noticeable lag.

And if you want, you can navigate around tiles with the arrow keys.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you still use keystrokes to suspend, hibernate or reboot? I used to hit WinKey, Alt+S (IIRC) then H, S, etc.

The Office ribbon is also a joke. Rather than have it as the default option, they went ahead and removed the "as you type" progress of keyboard interaction. That is, you used to be able to type a keystroke combination (Alt+O I believe) to bring up font options. You'd get the next actual window instead of the highlight bubbles which wait for you to type the next keystroke

They've crippled the capability and it has been a usability nightmare since. Each version of Windows becomes less and less usable. Barring a shocking reversal, one way or another, 10 is my last personal use of Windows.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
Can you still use keystrokes to suspend, hibernate or reboot? I used to hit WinKey, Alt+S (IIRC) then H, S, etc.

Not as far as I know. You could set that up manually. Most people who need to halt Windows that frequently are on laptops and have their system setup to do so when they close the lid. No shortcut key needed.

pjp wrote:
The Office ribbon is also a joke. Rather than have it as the default option, they went ahead and removed the "as you type" progress of keyboard interaction. That is, you used to be able to type a keystroke combination (Alt+O I believe) to bring up font options. You'd get the next actual window instead of the highlight bubbles which wait for you to type the next keystroke

I can't comment on that as I don't really use Office all that much. I do use Visual Studio 2017, however.

pjp wrote:
They've crippled the capability and it has been a usability nightmare since. Each version of Windows becomes less and less usable. Barring a shocking reversal, one way or another, 10 is my last personal use of Windows.

I was solidly in the Ubuntu camp until I got rather disillusioned with their vision, or rather, lack thereof. I want them to reverse course and take Convergence back.

It still baffles me that they used a lack of interested hardware partners as justification. It's not like they have hardware partners for desktop. You just download the ISO and install it on your machine. The UBports project is still active bringing (the now defunct) Ubuntu Touch to anything that can run CyanogenMod. From an open source standpoint, things were going in their favor despite their insistence on using Mir.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Convergence in general would be nice, but as it doesn't exist yet, it doesn't make me decide one way or another for my environment. Personally, I don't think I have a need for convergence. Once it exists, maybe I'll find one. Heck, I don't even need a smartphone. When my current phone dies, I may revert to a non-smartphone if they still exist.

A lack of PC platform hardware partners just isn't that important. The hardware is open enough that people can set it up, and the market for those willing is "large enough." Whether or not they have enough of that market is a separate issue. But when it comes to mobile, the hardware is the opposite of open, which significantly undercuts the available market share. I'd like to, but it isn't worth my time without meaningful gain. For me, the gain would need to be privacy and or security focused. No app store login tracking tied to what I install or do. App owners should no more know where and when I'm using the app than does an automobile manufacturer know when or where I'm driving my car.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
Convergence in general would be nice, but as it doesn't exist yet, it doesn't make me decide one way or another for my environment. Personally, I don't think I have a need for convergence. Once it exists, maybe I'll find one. Heck, I don't even need a smartphone. When my current phone dies, I may revert to a non-smartphone if they still exist.

A lack of PC platform hardware partners just isn't that important. The hardware is open enough that people can set it up, and the market for those willing is "large enough." Whether or not they have enough of that market is a separate issue. But when it comes to mobile, the hardware is the opposite of open, which significantly undercuts the available market share. I'd like to, but it isn't worth my time without meaningful gain. For me, the gain would need to be privacy and or security focused. No app store login tracking tied to what I install or do. App owners should no more know where and when I'm using the app than does an automobile manufacturer know when or where I'm driving my car.


The gain with convergence is mostly privacy and security focused, as you can easily carry around your computer with you everywhere you go. All of the other benefits stem from the fact you're carrying around what is probably your main computer. Some see this as potentially being convenient, and I would suggest the main reason it can be convenient is it lets you avoid web services and authenticate to one physical device you have in your possession.

Which hardware are you talking about, though? Any of the devices one might wish to replace the OS on - because that is what it would take to mesh with Canonical's original vision and what most people expect - are not open and it is essentially impossible for anyone but an expert to replace the existing Android OS. And then after that most devices are compromised as the bootloader is provided as a signed blob (some Allwinner devices are not compromised in this way, but they are not as powerful as competitors).

Most privacy benefits not obtained by being able to avoid web services are gained by avoiding Android.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bootloader doesn't have to be replaced. Not on any of the Nexus devices anyway. You unlock the bootloader, which forces a flash of the user data (safety measure). Then you replace the main system image and then relock the bootloader. Replacing the bootloader is extremely risky as if even the slightest thing goes wrong, you've got a bricked device.

Nexus devices are as serviceable as PCs when it comes to alternative operating systems. You can even replace the recovery image (ClockworkMod).
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

R0b0t1 wrote:
The gain with convergence is mostly privacy and security focused, as you can easily carry around your computer with you everywhere you go. All of the other benefits stem from the fact you're carrying around what is probably your main computer. Some see this as potentially being convenient, and I would suggest the main reason it can be convenient is it lets you avoid web services and authenticate to one physical device you have in your possession.
I can see some benefits there, but maybe not as much as are possible until I've used it, or have a much deeper understanding of how that all happens. Avoiding a web service doesn't seem hugely beneficial if the alternative is an app which must be acquired through an app store which tracks you and can very easily contain malware. In some ways, that could be a false sense of security.

R0b0t1 wrote:
Which hardware are you talking about, though? Any of the devices one might wish to replace the OS on - because that is what it would take to mesh with Canonical's original vision and what most people expect - are not open and it is essentially impossible for anyone but an expert to replace the existing Android OS. And then after that most devices are compromised as the bootloader is provided as a signed blob (some Allwinner devices are not compromised in this way, but they are not as powerful as competitors).
Agreed, and that was at lest partly the point I was making. PC hardware is open in that you can do almost anything you want with it. Mobile hardware is not nearly as open.

R0b0t1 wrote:
Most privacy benefits not obtained by being able to avoid web services are gained by avoiding Android.
I wouldn't limit it to Android, but I agree. And that is a significant reason why I'm not fond of our new mobile overlords.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wswartzendruber wrote:
Nexus devices are as serviceable as PCs when it comes to alternative operating systems. You can even replace the recovery image (ClockworkMod).
I had a different experience. I can install an OS onto PC hardware pretty easily. Flashing the Nexus tablet I have is nothing even remotely as easy. The tools required seem akin to going to a back alley for a medical procedure. The instructions -- at the time when my device was new when I made the attempt -- were inconsistent and not well documented. In fact, I was unsuccessful. After a few attempts, I decided I didn't want to risk bricking the device. I'm "sure" that wouldn't have happened, but I'm not in the habit of tossing a hundred or more dollars away so easily. That is nothing like PC hardware. Maybe now, a few years later, it has improved.

Last I heard, ClockWork the company went bust but kept the trademarks, forcing the community to scramble somehow. I quit paying attention, so I'm guessing that's been resolved by now. That's also another point. The options are pretty much that one if it still exists.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wswartzendruber wrote:
The bootloader doesn't have to be replaced. Not on any of the Nexus devices anyway. You unlock the bootloader, which forces a flash of the user data (safety measure). Then you replace the main system image and then relock the bootloader. Replacing the bootloader is extremely risky as if even the slightest thing goes wrong, you've got a bricked device.

Nexus devices are as serviceable as PCs when it comes to alternative operating systems. You can even replace the recovery image (ClockworkMod).
It may not be a closed bootloader and may not need to be replaced to replace the OS, but what bothers me is that the vast majority of the time I have no power over the bootloader. I'm not sure about Nexus devices but most other devices (e.g. Samsung) have two or three binary blobs which are signed, verified in hardware, and must run before any of your code runs.

Granted these blobs are typically not very large and do things like initialize the DRAM and cache controllers and there is no reason to believe they do anything else, but that can't be proven and it sets a terrible precedent.
pjp wrote:
R0b0t1 wrote:
The gain with convergence is mostly privacy and security focused, as you can easily carry around your computer with you everywhere you go. All of the other benefits stem from the fact you're carrying around what is probably your main computer. Some see this as potentially being convenient, and I would suggest the main reason it can be convenient is it lets you avoid web services and authenticate to one physical device you have in your possession.
I can see some benefits there, but maybe not as much as are possible until I've used it, or have a much deeper understanding of how that all happens. Avoiding a web service doesn't seem hugely beneficial if the alternative is an app which must be acquired through an app store which tracks you and can very easily contain malware. In some ways, that could be a false sense of security.
Convergence as Canonical imagined can't be obtained with Android. Android is not suitable for a desktop operating system due to a myriad of reasons, and convergence is mostly about having a desktop operating system that can interact with a cellular modem. The other way - having a phone which pretends to be a desktop - has been tried over and over and has failed each time.

There wouldn't need to be an app store and you could still use web services. The main distinction would be that you could run desktop applications. At the start it may be slightly painful as phone functionality is recreated in a usable presentation, but projects like KDE's Plasma are already trying to do this.

pjp wrote:
R0b0t1 wrote:
Most privacy benefits not obtained by being able to avoid web services are gained by avoiding Android.
I wouldn't limit it to Android, but I agree. And that is a significant reason why I'm not fond of our new mobile overlords.
Well, Android had a focus due to practicality's sake. I would like to run my own code on Apple and Microsoft devices but there's an even slimmer chance of that happening.

pjp wrote:
wswartzendruber wrote:
Nexus devices are as serviceable as PCs when it comes to alternative operating systems. You can even replace the recovery image (ClockworkMod).
I had a different experience. I can install an OS onto PC hardware pretty easily. Flashing the Nexus tablet I have is nothing even remotely as easy. The tools required seem akin to going to a back alley for a medical procedure. The instructions -- at the time when my device was new when I made the attempt -- were inconsistent and not well documented. In fact, I was unsuccessful. After a few attempts, I decided I didn't want to risk bricking the device. I'm "sure" that wouldn't have happened, but I'm not in the habit of tossing a hundred or more dollars away so easily. That is nothing like PC hardware. Maybe now, a few years later, it has improved.

Last I heard, ClockWork the company went bust but kept the trademarks, forcing the community to scramble somehow. I quit paying attention, so I'm guessing that's been resolved by now. That's also another point. The options are pretty much that one if it still exists.
I find cause to agree, and also want to point out that some of the tools - depending on manufacturer - are only usable on Windows. I've only been able to flash older Samsung devices from Linux, and newer phones from all manufacturers are designed to prevent modification.

What makes this kind of sad is that ARM chips are designed to be easier to describe and modify than x86 systems, and they are. But they also have strong cryptography baked into them that protects the boot chain (like modern x86 systems, unfortunately).

ClockworkMod was a recovery system (as I understand it). CyanogenMod is now called LineageOS. Despite being the only option, I think I should point out that it attracts all available talent related to Android modification and there are still gigantic gaps in capability.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What if the next release of Windows 10 Mobile allowed for the same shell as the desktop (when docked) and also supported running x86 binaries on ARM?
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wswartzendruber wrote:
What if the next release of Windows 10 Mobile allowed for the same shell as the desktop (when docked) and also supported running x86 binaries on ARM?
I don't think that would be enough. I think the system would have to be made more like WinRT, but it might take even more than that. The failure of WinRT-based tablets was not just due to the lack of compatible programs but the difficulty people had in developing for them. The hereditary openness of x86-based computers makes up for a lot and allows people to actually introspect their machine - on modern ARM devices those holes are closed off in the name of security, but the keys are only in the possession of the device vendor. That constitutes a group of design choices that prevent running x86 programs using binary translation (unless you want to run a full virtual machine).

I seriously considered buying a Windows phone based on the testimony of people I know who have them. I'm just worried that I can't openly develop for the device, but then it was starting to look like I couldn't do that for most Android phones either and has mostly become the case.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

R0b0t1 wrote:
wswartzendruber wrote:
What if the next release of Windows 10 Mobile allowed for the same shell as the desktop (when docked) and also supported running x86 binaries on ARM?
I don't think that would be enough. I think the system would have to be made more like WinRT, but it might take even more than that. The failure of WinRT-based tablets was not just due to the lack of compatible programs but the difficulty people had in developing for them. The hereditary openness of x86-based computers makes up for a lot and allows people to actually introspect their machine - on modern ARM devices those holes are closed off in the name of security, but the keys are only in the possession of the device vendor. That constitutes a group design choices that prevent running x86 programs using binary translation (unless you want to run a full virtual machine).

I seriously considered buying a Windows phone based on the testimony of people I know who have them. I'm just worried that I can't openly develop for the device, but then it was starting to look like I couldn't do that for most Android phones either and has mostly become the case.

Well here's one thing:

Windows 10 On ARM To Universally Support All X86 Apps Even Outside Of Windows Store

And I think they realize that if they want the supposed Surface Phone to be anything close to successful, they're going to have to support that there as well.

Regarding Windows 10 Mobile, I got pissed at Microsoft several months ago and took off. When I started using my new Moto G4 Play phone, Android seemed to be a lot less...I can't think of the word...innovative?...than I had remembered. I can roughly catalog two major complaints against Android:

1. It needs a much beefier device to do any one thing compared to W10M.
2. The settings seem to be not that well thought out.

For #1, last month's W10M update can run quite comfortably on a phone with a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. The battery life is incredible, allowing me to go several days without charging.

Regarding #2, I'll present this screenshot of Windows 10. Notice how the Windows 10 settings are descriptive and not cluttered. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Windows 10 as a whole is more usable. I never find myself having to guess what something means and I like that the OS stays out of my way. I also like the ever increasing consistency between my phone, PC and tablet.

Regarding development, the Community edition of Visual Studio is completely free to use and I believe you can even profit from your applications. You'll need to enable developer mode on the phone to debug interactively, or sideloading if you just want to deploy your own AppX packages.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

R0b0t1 wrote:
Convergence as Canonical imagined can't be obtained with Android. Android is not suitable for a desktop operating system due to a myriad of reasons, and convergence is mostly about having a desktop operating system that can interact with a cellular modem. The other way - having a phone which pretends to be a desktop - has been tried over and over and has failed each time.

There wouldn't need to be an app store and you could still use web services. The main distinction would be that you could run desktop applications. At the start it may be slightly painful as phone functionality is recreated in a usable presentation, but projects like KDE's Plasma are already trying to do this.
Suitability to me seems to come down to UI design. How that works under the hood is a solvable technical issue. For the foreseeable future, no mobile device will be as capable as current non-mobile alternatives, so the UI cannot be identical. That's the UI equivalent of the square peg and round hole problem.

The short term "get it to market" approach could simply bolt on some inefficient desktopiness for those platforms and rely on more power. But I digress as that isn't really the problem, just a hurdle.

No, users / customers don't need an app store, but that wasn't the point. The point is that vendor lock-in currently forces app stores. Rumors were that Apple was going that direction for Mac OS (no idea if they have or not), and Windows 10 comes with an app store. That is going to be the new / only direction... for stuff not In the Cloud.

R0b0t1 wrote:
I find cause to agree, and also want to point out that some of the tools - depending on manufacturer - are only usable on Windows. I've only been able to flash older Samsung devices from Linux, and newer phones from all manufacturers are designed to prevent modification.

What makes this kind of sad is that ARM chips are designed to be easier to describe and modify than x86 systems, and they are. But they also have strong cryptography baked into them that protects the boot chain (like modern x86 systems, unfortunately).

ClockworkMod was a recovery system (as I understand it). CyanogenMod is now called LineageOS. Despite being the only option, I think I should point out that it attracts all available talent related to Android modification and there are still gigantic gaps in capability.
:oops: Yup, I was thinking Cyanogen.

Ultimately it comes down to what is old is new again. Vendor lock-in is the problem. Until someone can become the IBM Clone of mobile, it isn't likely to improve in any meaningful manner.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
For the foreseeable future, no mobile device will be as capable as current non-mobile alternatives, so the UI cannot be identical.

Why not? Most current flagships have more than enough power to blow through a desktop shell, provided they're docked.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The UI cannot be the same simply due to the format of the device. Smaller format mobile devices work best with touch, which is primarily a consumption model and pretty much the antithesis of creation.

As for performance, that's how it has worked since the inception of processors. There's a limit to what can fit in a mobile device and function on today's battery technology and thermal limitations.

A shell isn't what I would consider performance intensive software. Audio and video processing are the two most obvious, though perhaps less so now with audio. I'm not sure how battery intensive audio processing / editing / mixing is. Then there is CAD, modeling, animation, compiling. Maybe some others. We need Mr. Fusion.

I'm not saying mobile can't do most things when docked, but it currently has limits. And while docked, I'd argue that the best UI isn't going to be the touch / consumption model.


As an aside, it seems like the closer mobile devices get to parity with "desktop" devices, the farther away the "last mile" seems. Combine mobile limitations, vendor lock-in, and cloud based software, and I see the open desktop becoming prohibitively expensive to obtain.

I know you don't like the term cloud, but consider this: How Adobe Got Its Customers Hooked on Subscriptions.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pjp wrote:
The UI cannot be the same simply due to the format of the device. Smaller format mobile devices work best with touch, which is primarily a consumption model and pretty much the antithesis of creation.

wswartzendruber wrote:
Why not? Most current flagships have more than enough power to blow through a desktop shell, provided they're docked.

pjp wrote:
As for performance, that's how it has worked since the inception of processors. There's a limit to what can fit in a mobile device and function on today's battery technology and thermal limitations.

I think that Windows 10's insanely low hardware requirements are going to be quite handy here. It remains to be seen how those requirements increase as larger portions of the legacy Win32 stack are brought in, though.

pjp wrote:
A shell isn't what I would consider performance intensive software. Audio and video processing are the two most obvious, though perhaps less so now with audio. I'm not sure how battery intensive audio processing / editing / mixing is. Then there is CAD, modeling, animation, compiling. Maybe some others. We need Mr. Fusion.

Nobody's doing CAD on any of these phones. At least not for ten more years. But documents and email can be worked on with little to no noticeable performance degradation over a workstation. Indeed, this is going to be the most common scenario for the travelling businessman.

pjp wrote:
I'm not saying mobile can't do most things when docked, but it currently has limits. And while docked, I'd argue that the best UI isn't going to be the touch / consumption model.

Who said anything about the phone having a touch UI when docked? The whole point of Composable Shell is to allow a device to switch operating modes depending on its usage context.

pjp wrote:
As an aside, it seems like the closer mobile devices get to parity with "desktop" devices, the farther away the "last mile" seems. Combine mobile limitations, vendor lock-in, and cloud based software, and I see the open desktop becoming prohibitively expensive to obtain.

This isn't the direction Microsoft is taking when it comes to running Windows 10 on the upcoming ARM laptops. You can run whatever legacy applications you want on those. Whether or not the hardware vendor lets you flash something else onto them is another matter, one which I don't know anything about.
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