Cloud computing has been touted to be the future of computing. Trends suggest a move towards web-based software applications and services. The claim has been further strengthened by the emergence of companies offering cloud-based services to computer users. (e.g. Google Docs).
The underlying principle of cloud computing is to have servers offering access to computing power over the internet at a fee. Thus, users only pay for the services they consume; this is similar to the way utilities work. Proponents of cloud computing argue that users will ultimately pay less, they only pay for what they consume. This might not be really true; the cumulative amount of money spent over a long period of time may eventually exceed the cost of purchasing a software package.
The continued production of computers with larger memories, faster processors and smaller sizes suggests that operating systems are not doomed by the current shift towards web-based computing services. Software giants, like Microsoft, still invest heavily in the research and development of operating systems for laptops, desktops and servers. This indicates that people are not ready to totally move to the cloud.
If cloud computing eventually emerges as the dominant way of accessing computing power in the future, then users might have to bear the brunt of the monopolistic practices of the corporations that provide services to them. Also privacy issues will arise as consumers will definitely want to protect their confidential information.
The traditional operating system will be around for a long time but there will be a significant shift towards adopting web-based and mobile technologies. There will most likely be a merge in the significant characteristics of the traditional operating system and the newer web-based and mobile technologies.
What is your own view about cloud computing?