One area of computing we’re going to see big improvements on in the next year or two is start times. I’ve written before about my growing impatience with boot times and the benefits of devices that have instant-on capability. As more people buy alternative devices to go online (smartphones, tablets, etc) they are going to get used to hitting a power button and using it immediately, not waiting a couple of minutes for it to load. Talking to one of my colleague who bought an iPad recently he recounted how it sat in the lounge and the whole family used it to check stuff, from their email to cinema times, because it was fast and convenient rather than waiting for a laptop or desktop to boot.
The BBC ran an article covering a new memory technology that could help PCs boot much more quickly and with the rise of low-power processors (and Microsoft’s recent announcement that the next version of Windows will support ARM processors) we may not need it, instead leaving many machines on permanently, or at least in some form of suspension. I already do this at home, having built a small, low-power machine, I largely just put it into sleep and then wake it when I want to use it.
Ideally I’d like to switch it off though, and just get to a usable desktop in a couple of seconds of hitting the power button. As more people start to buy and use instant-on devices there is going to be a growing demand from users for all devices to work that way. OS makers have already started to address this, and some of the newer products available (Chrome OS, Intel’s proposed platform) are presenting it as a key feature, so look for big strides to be made by the incumbents.