Hey, you, get off my personal cloud

In dumping Windows as my primary work environment and adopting OS X, I'm just choosing a new cloud access point

Nearly 100 comments were added to my post declaring my plans to switch from Windows to the Mac as my primary work machine. I didn't really expect a reaction like that. I'm surprised that a decade after the Apple "switch" marketing campaign, the old Windows/Mac religious feelings seem to be running as hot as ever.

For me personally, the decision to switch wasn't as big a deal as it sounds. True, I was bitterly disappointed in Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which as InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard points out, fails the all-important Dad test. So after 22 years of sticking with one mainstream choice for my primary work machine, I threw up my hands and decided to try another.

[ See the review of the new iPad by InfoWorld's Galen Gruman. | InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard offers a hands-on Windows 8 evaluation with "Windows 8: Something old, something awkward." | Subscribe to our Microsoft newsletter to stay up to date on the latest developments. ]

But I was lucky. It was easy to do. I was due for a new computer, and it just so happens that InfoWorld has MacBooks on its list of approved equipment. The one I chose cost little more than the new ThinkPad I'd been eyeing.

Choice is the point. I won't be surprised if the next time I pick a work computer, I'm simply expected to go out and buy my own, just like employees buy their own mobile devices today. By then perhaps we'll have client-hosted VDI of the type described by Keith Schultz in his review of Virtual Computer NxTop Enterprise 4.0: a secure virtual machine that contains all necessary business apps downloads to the client when the work day begins, runs without a connection if necessary, and syncs back to the server when one is available -- and, finally, disappears when the client is turned off.

That VDI variation could be part of the scenario described by InfoWorld's David Linthicum, who cited a new Gartner report predicting that "the center of users' digital lives" will shift from the personal computer to "the personal cloud" by 2014. We're not necessarily talking about Windows Live or iCloud, here, but as Linthicum puts it: "several computers and mobile devices all accessing the same cloud services: document sharing, file system, email, and so on."

Gartner sees the personal cloud as the confluence of five megatrends: consumerization, virtualization, "app-ification," cloud computing, and new mobile technology. "The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud," explains Gartner vice president Steve Kleynhans, who wrote the report. "In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself."

My new MacBook has not arrived yet. When it does, the fact that I've switched will mean a whole lot less than it did just a few years ago. And when I want to fire up the next beta of Windows 8, well, there's always Boot Camp.

This article, "Hey, you, get off my personal cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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