The Future of Computing: the Flash Key

At some point we’ll be logging on to the Internet to access our operating system, argues a personal computing expert.
Posted February 19, 2007
By

Steven Warren

Steven Warren


I dreamed last night of the death of the PC.

As the years have passed, I have seen the PC grow from obscurity to something that lives in most family rooms around the world. You can now purchase a terabyte hard drive for your personal computer and 4 GB of memory with processing power one could not have imagined 10 years ago. But times are ever changing. The PC is requiring more and more horsepower and an easier road is right in front of us – the Internet. Let me explain.

Microsoft, Apple, Google, Linux, etc. are on the verge of the next computer revolution. I believe Microsoft put out its last big operating system with Vista, and will next modularize its OS via Windows Live and the Internet. In other words, rather than spending five years building an enormous new release with endless lines of code to release in one complete package, I see Microsoft offering consumers the core slimmed-down software, and then adding or updating portions as they are released.

Google has big plans to utilize the Internet as a huge services portal. Examples include GMAIL, spreadsheets, and word processing that are all accessed from your browser. And Apple owns the portable device market and is known for their innovation. In the upcoming years, we will be seeing much more integration between our computer and the Internet.

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Revolutionary personal computing options are on the horizon; and they all hinge on one simple tool: the universal high speed flash key. In fact, as I write this column, in my pocket sits a simple device that is currently capable of holding a mere 4 GB of data but its future is bright. 4 GB flash keys today – 500 GB tomorrow and beyond.

Let’s imagine what the future holds: You have a computer with multiple banks of flash key ports. With no flash drives plugged into the computer, it is simply an Internet appliance. You can browse the Internet, check email, etc. And in its new, scaled-back form (no hard drive, little memory), this personal Internet appliance – or PC – would be cheap. This could be the birth of the sub $100 computer.

But you may need more from your PC. Maybe you need a specific operating system. If so, invest in an OS flash key, pop it in your computer, and reboot. You will be prompted to load Windows, Linux, Apple, etc. – whatever operating system you have preloaded on your flash key. Once your OS is loaded you could add additional flash keys for your data or even have a RAID of flash keys with redundancy.

Another (and my preferred) option will be to load the Microsoft, Apple, Linux version of the Internet OS. Yes you heard me. An operating system that is readily available on the Internet. For example, you would simply go to a website such as ewindows.com and once you login to the website, an operating system loads similar to Windows today. When you put your USB flash key in your computer drive, you are required to enter a password, your documents and settings and data load, and you are off.

From a security perspective, your whole flash key is encrypted and is only decrypted when you enter your password. Additionally, you are also able to keep a compressed backup copy of your encrypted data on the Internet in case of theft. This will open up a whole new market to entrepreneurs who want to create online storage space for encrypted flash keys.

The portable device market can also take advantage of the flash key. Your 500 GB flash key can have smaller partitions. For example, you might make a 25 GB partition for your cell phone for music, contacts, ringtones, or a 10 GB partition for your camera or video camera. Your 500 GB flash key can meet all of your needs. Your television might have a slot for your flash key to play a movie. You may even be able to go to blockbuster.com and download a newly released movie such as Rocky XXX to your flash key and watch it on your computer, TV, IPOD instead of going to the movie theater. The possibilities are endless.






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