[link removed because 1) it was a while ago and 2) don't want to piss off the original poster....]
A short time after the iPad came out, someone at another university (a CIO, I think) posted that “OMG, the Internet is the OS!” The gist is that he had a revelation that with such a device, it wasn’t about the operating system anymore. It was about applications that ran on the internet, like Google Docs. One didn’t need an OS anymore to run local apps.
I had two problems with this. First, the iPad does run an OS, and Apple is in the business of operating systems. Yes, any tablet or slate will have some kind of OS on it (even the JooJoo Pad, which is about as basic and internet-oriented as it gets, runs a small linux kernel). But a lot of applications on the iPad that are so heavily touted – the media player, the book reader, the music player – run on the installed operating system. These are not cloud-based applications that are accessed via the internet.
Second, I found the revelatory nature of the post rather surprising. It’s not like internet-based applications are new, nor are other cloud-based service such as storage (enterprise level like Amazon’s S3 or Rackspace or personal solutions such as Dropbox), applications (aforementioned Google docs, as well as a few others). Software as a Service (SaaS) has been around for a while, too, where one can run traditionally local solutions (like MS Exchange, powering an Outlook-based e-mail and calendar system) in a hosted environment – essentially outsourcing but to the internet. There is even a Microsoft Office solution for sharing documents via cloud storage, kind of like Google Docs but with a monster of a local application (the Office suite) doing the heavy lifting.
So why would it be so stunning that applications are migrating towards online?