Some of these technologies are already being used in new computers and supporting hardware, including:
- Ultrabooks – An Ultrabook is a higher-end type of subnotebook defined by Intel. Intel invented (and trademarked) the term “Ultrabook”. Ultrabooks are designed to feature reduced size and weight and long battery life while retaining strong performance. Any thin-design laptop that uses Intel’s processors and adheres to certain specs is an Ultrabook.
The thickness must be no more than 0.71 inches (18 millimeters) at its thickest point. The weight must be less than 3.1 pounds. It must have a long battery life, offering more than five hours of general use. It must have flash-based drive for storage. It must use Intel’s Rapid start technology for fast boot times.
They use low-power Intel CULV processors with integrated graphics, solid-state drives for fast loading times, and unibody chassis to fit larger batteries into smaller cases. Because of their minimal size, the ability to have many ports (USB, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, etc.) is limited. Ideally, Ultrabooks should also have a “mainstream” price in the neighborhood of $1,000.
- Tablets – from the new iPad to the Galaxy Tab 2 to the Kindle Fire, we are seeing more tablets used for personal pleasure. Additionally, they are being configured for business use. So much has been written about tablets, I’m not sure what practical guidance can be added in this overview of technology, except that Microsoft’s new Surface tablet that runs Microsoft Office natively could be an interesting add to this mix. We also need to monitor developments in the tablet market.
- SmartPhones – Android phones are dominating the world and U.S. market even with the iPhone popularity. The key thing to watch here is the addition of four core processors for more speed, and the virtualization on mobile trend. Mobile phones are no longer stand-alone devices - increasingly, they play the role of enterprise application endpoints. Today's mobile phones boast computing capabilities once found in mainframe computers and workstations. Mobile CPU clocks run hundreds of MHz, and mobile 32 bit processors access gigabytes of memory.
Software is changing, too
As we have covered in a previous column, the software platforms continue to evolve, but we also see convergence from computer to tablet to phone in all of the major players.
Platforms to watch include:
- iOS 6 – This Apple iPhone and iPad operating system is due in the fall. We can expect Apple’s new desktop OS, Mountain Lion, to have features that emphasize convergence with iOS 6.
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the current Android operating system is roughly comparable to iOS 3 in functionality. Android developers got into a habit of codenaming new versions for desserts. With such a “sweet” habit, they are expected to stay with it. They started with 1.5 Cupcake, 1.6 Donut, 2.0 Éclair, 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb (active today), 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (current version), and rumor of good things to come, 5.0 Jelly Bean (expected to be released late 2012), and 6.0 Key Lime Pie (after Jelly Bean is fully deployed).
- Windows 8 - Microsoft will be supporting system-on-a-chip (SoC) and mobile ARM processors in its next version of the Windows operating system. So in the history of Windows, what’s next? There are still lots of speculation and rumors, and there is a lot of pressure from manufacturers to “get it out.” The Office 15 Release could be holding up Windows 8. We expect two versions of Windows plus the new tablet Surface version or RT. First, we’ll have the traditional Intel/AMD OS that supports the three traditional form factors related to "lap PCs" and tablets, workhorse PCs, and family hub PCs. The lap PC will have tablet features, the workhorse PC is the traditional desktop or laptop system, and the family hub PC is your next evolution of Windows Media Center. Second, we’ll have the ARM version for tablets and smart devices that will not run traditional code. Windows 8 Metro features include: