The internet has been constantly evolving since the day it was born, but the next-generation web will be the least democratic ever. Why? Money, of course.
In the beginning, there was the PC. An isolated beige box full of computational whirrings. We saw it, it did stuff, and we thought that it was good. But it could be better. Thanks to the internet, it soon was.
See also: Microsoft Windows 8 review
Without the internet the PC would remain nothing but a big calculator with a few rubbish games thrown in. Typing ‘55378008’ and turning the device upside down would constitute digital media. (Apologies to anyone who didn't grow up in the 80s.) As it is, PCs come in all shapes and sizes, and allow instant access to a previously inconceivable world of data.
Few businesses in the developed world don’t in some way utilise the internet. But competing on an open market (chiefly owned by Google) doesn’t suit those who have most to lose. (As I write, publications such as PCA are having to adjust to changes in Google’s algorithms – when a rival can change your chief route to market without warning, bean counters worry.)
Which is why the next generation of the web will look a lot different. I’m talking about apps: currently the preserve of the mobile world, apps are coming soon to a PC near you. Businesses love apps, because they offer a direct relationship with customers, with none of the messy scrabbling for attention that goes on over the open internet.
As is often the case (when it comes to parting consumer from cash), Apple leads the way. iTunes and the App Store have shown tech vendors that if you control the channel, you control everything. Purchases happen because a product is featured.
Apple now has an App Store integral to Mac OS X, a default app that appears on every Mac, offering a secure, hassle-free way to install and buy. Lots of people use it – why surf the web or hit the high street when you can quickly install something that’s guaranteed to be fit for purpose?
Intel (and others) already have Windows and Linux app stores, but having to surf to find an app store defeats the purpose. With Windows 8, that won’t be the case.
Leaked screenshots recently suggested Windows 8 will have its own app store, codenamed ‘Jupiter’. And if it’s in Windows 8, it’s more than likely to be available to (or forced on) Windows 7 users.
For Microsoft this makes total sense. Windows is on the desktops of the majority of PC users, but Microsoft derives no revenue after the initial sale. And to sell to its userbase it has to take its chances in Google’s world. For the starry-eyed hopeful wanting to make it big on the web it’s not such good news. Eventually, in any market, those with the biggest clout take over. And the internet is the biggest market of all.