Nobody really foresaw the rise of Google as an operating system maker and though it's not all been successful for the company (got a Chromebook anyone?) on tablets and smartphones nobody can argue that Android is firmly on top. Now though details have emerged of a previously secret new cloud OS collaboration between Microsoft and Apple.
Based loosely on work started by Microsoft Research, the new OS will put the cloud at its heart with search, file storage (both locally and online) and multimedia as its basic pillars. It is rumoured that both Apple and Microsoft are planning to replace their existing operating system products with this new operating system sometime in the next five years. This would mean the death of Windows, iOS and OS X and a complete change in the way we use computers.
This new operating system, which will be platform agnostic, is based on a completely new way of structuring an OS with the core kernel rumoured to be just 10Mb in size. It is this streamlined approach that appealed to Apple, who have been working to streamline and slim down operating systems for years.
So what will the interface look like? The best information currently suggests something that won't visually change too much from the Windows Desktop or OS X but with enhanced window furniture for both touch and, crucially, use through other mediums such as gesture control. This would make the OS extremely good for disabled people or the elderly who can have trouble with existing mice and keyboards.
Gesture control will be the next big thing according to Microsoft Research and they're very happy that Apple are adopting their system. A lead technician within Apple was reported as saying that the company had been lagging far behind with this new technology and the new OS partnership with Microsoft would help keep both companies ahead for decades to come.
Additionally the new OS would feature voice control extensively, which would be Apple's main contribution. The theory being that when people talk and gesticulate to their smartphone or tablet in the street, it will be in a completely natural way and won't appear any more animated than somebody having a telephone conversation.
For the cloud integration it is reported that many cloud services are being prepped for inclusion in the new OS and that new technologies are being developed that will enable the sharing of files and data between them in a way that will make the new OS meaningful. In seconds and on any device you will be able to open a picture from Flickr and embed it into a document you create using Microsoft's Office Live web apps. At the moment this requires the downloading and saving of the photo locally, and the new sharing technology in the OS, which has yet to be named, would finally do away with all that.
It is not clear how the partnership came about but some believe it was Steve Jobs wish that Apple carry the work forward, and that it was an idea that he had personally discussed with Bill Gates for many years.
It will be sad to see the demise of OS X and Windows but both companies now seem to accept that technology has moved on since the early days of home and business computing and that new systems and methods are needed. It is good though to see that Apple and Microsoft are working so closely together for the benefit of computer users everywhere.