I’m the family IT guy, which basically means if anyone encounters a problem they can’t fix themselves, I get a call. Now, to be fair, my family are fairly IT-literate so can take care of most small tasks themselves, but it still happens. Will that happen when the cloud hits its stride? I don’t think so.
At the moment, most problems are caused by installed software, viruses (not for my lot, thankfully) and configuration problems from drivers etc. Now imagine the future where your local machine is largely just a front end to all of your applications, which are run either through a web browser, or for more intensive ones, using some sort of virtualisation software as a service. All your data is stored on servers elsewhere, or at least backed-up there, as are all your applications. It means little chance of problems, as whoever is providing the service will have a team to update and maintain it for you.
If your hardware fails or something gets corrupt, you wipe it and return to the original state, type in your username and password and you have access to all your apps and files immediately. More importantly, you can walk a family member through this over the phone without having to spend hours trying to find fixes for their virus infections before explaining to them that because they didn’t make any backups the photos of the kids as babies are gone, for good.
The only problem will be if your family forget their usernames and passwords.
Not that I see the cloud being as all-pervasive as most tech commentators seem to think it will be, but the idea is appealing. I think we’ll see more of a split, with more apps moving online, but due to the increasing size of the files we create and the slow speed to upgrade our internet connections, some things will have to remain local.