Practical Technology

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Vendors just can’t stop trying to lock us all in

What do Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Google’s Android all have in common? None of them works that well without the Internet. This trend has been developing for years and is now accelerating.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Internet and I like operating systems, such as Google Chrome OS, that require it. But I like having true platform choice even more. I was there for the PC revolution of the ’70s and ’80s, and I well remember how it undermined the ability of the IT department to control every last bit and byte. I don’t want to go back to the days when users had no control — but I’m afraid that’s exactly what’s happening.

Today, it’s the big vendors that are taking control. Using an iPhone or iPad locks you into the Apple ecosystem. Want to use Adobe Flash? Too bad. Steve Jobs decided he didn’t want you to have it, and that was that.

It’s not much different with other technology choices. From time to time, things might happen that give the impression that everyone is trying to get along. Google, for instance, has got its maps working on iOS devices again, something that also required the goodwill of the keepers of the Apple App Store. Meanwhile, though, Google has decided to pull the rug out from underneath Microsoft.

Vendors just can’t stop trying to lock us all in

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