There are many people far better qualified than me to describe cloud services and how they work, but I like to think at least I have a fairly well developed sense of what is bullcrap and what is not. The jury is still out on cloud services. Some aspects like streaming and collaboration are truly innovative and useful. Some aspects like having big corporations own your data for you are just plain disturbing.

cst122tsMy first computer was an Apple IIe that I used to design and manage several packet-switch type financial services distributed via broadband cable and satellite. There was no thought or need for a pretty interface, drag and drop or streaming movies. It seems inconceivable to young people today that desktop computers could not even display pictures or play music files. Sounds were of the arcade variety and so were the graphics. Getting a pie chart printed out was a pretty impressive feat back then.

So now we have our old friend Microsoft, which has during its lifetime both delighted and frustrated millions, wanting to change the game plan yet again. As often happens, they seem to be a day late and a dollar short. MS is not a highly creative organization and has always specialized in waiting until others develop software then swooping in and buying the company. That is how they got some really good products that they then managed to turn into bloatware.

Windows 8 wouldn’t be a bad operating system except that MS spent years training us to use previous versions of Windows that at least kept the interface more or less the same. Even Windows 7 uses the same wonky file system and adheres to the PC the same as Window 3.0 did, and you can’t transfer it to another PC. So making Office 2013 adhere to a single computer is not new to MS, but it is cruel to users – at least end users who don’t have massive budgets for an IT department.

Mac has kept with a consistent operating system all these years but their hardware is no longer anything special or even different from what you get in a modern PC. So basically you pay a lot more just to get the latest big cat du jour operating system. Why won’t Apple just let us run their O/S on cheaper PC’s? Well, that’s kind of why Apple is Apple and the mystique lingers. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to act like a wooly mammoth trapped in a tar pit.

If I were to be pushed for a recommendation on cloud computing I’d suggest going slowly. I’ve used Dropbox for some time now and it is superbly designed and functions without a hiccup. Microsoft products, on the other hand, tend to be bloated, costly, buggy and short-lived. There is no long-term vision at Microsoft, only short-term profits.

So the issue may not be so much that it costs you $10 a month to use their software and keep your data files, but what would you do if they decide to pack it in and change directions next year? They’ve done it before and they could do it again. The other thing is what happens to your valuable files if you forget to make a payment? Well, you know what the electric company does. Microsoft would do exactly the same.

Wordperfect? Will you take me in again? I’m sorry I ran off on you. I never loved Word, honest, it was an empty and meaningless affair…