Over winter break I took advantage of a little time off to upgrade one of my laptops and one of my desktops to Windows 7, Microsoft’s newest operating system. Both of these computers were running Vista prior to their upgrade and I must say that I do like the new OS. During the same time period, I installed Google’s Chromium OS onto a 4 gig flash drive and boot my eeepc from it. Showing my true inner geek, I thought that it might be fun to have a 5 computers running 5 different operating systems all at the same time just to see what I thought of each one in a side by side comparison.
I booted up my eeepc with Chromium OS, started up my work XP laptop, brought out my laptop with Windows 7 installed, dug out a MacBook with OS X and set all of these up beside my desktop with Vista running. Granted, my wife and kids looked at me like I was a little insane, but I wanted to see the differences. What I found is that I simply don’t care. Sure, I like having Windows 7 and the new features that accompany it, but I also like the tried and true nature of XP. OS X has some great features but, as I said, I had to dig out that computer so it’s not one that I use all the time. Then there’s Chrome OS. As it’s in beta and really hasn’t been released, I’m sure there will be more coming in the future, but right now, I don’t see that as my primary operating system.
As I was looking at all these systems and computers, I started wondering about the operating systems that my kids will use in their futures. Will they beg me for a Mac in the future or will they just want a computer and an internet connection? I imagine it will be the later. Thinking about my computing habits, with the exception of some specialized software, almost all of my work is now done online. Sure, I still want to be able to launch Photoshop or do some higher end video editing, but I think that for the most part I could do 90% of what I want to using online tools. Maybe Google is onto something with their OS that’s really just a browser. Regardless, I think it’s time that schools start thinking about their computing needs differently. License fees for software and operating systems may heed way to inexpensive hardware allowing for a more integrated experience. Regardless, the idea that students or teachers NEED to have a Mac or a PC may be on its way out. Instead, they need a computing device and a broadband connection so that they can complete projects and access information at will. That may be a tablet, a phone or an ipod touch, who knows?
I’m running Windows 7 and I like it, but the more I (as an adult and an educator) don’t care about what’s running on my computer, the more I wonder how important it is to students. Mac or PC, I don’t care, just give me the web and I’m all set.