25 June 2006

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

Could Paul Maritz be the emblematic man of early 21st century computing? I know, I know, it seems unlikely at first sight, but remember that Maritz was one of the archetypal Mr Microsofts during the latter's heyday. He was also part of a vast wave of defections as it became clear which way the wind was blowing.

Which is what makes his new company, PI Corporation, particularly interesting. Its premise?

The PC and the "GUI" interface of the 1980’s and 1990’s made it possible for tens of millions of people to author and manage documents. But with the spread of the Internet, the number of items of information users need to deal with has increased dramatically. The established metaphors and tools for dealing with this mass of information are starting to creak and groan. Just look at the average persons “inbox”.

We're routinely dealing with thousands of items of personal information - documents, email messages, web pages, calendar items, contacts, pictures, etc. The folder, desktop and drag-and-drop metaphors are no longer up to the task.


we believe that users should have their PI always available to them, wherever they are and whatever device they are using.

PI accomplishes this allowing information to be replicated across machines and devices, freeing the user from being dependent on a single device.

Sounds to me like Paul has rather gone off Windows and PCs. Instead, he seems to like Net-based distributed architectures. Note, too, how Windows and GNU/Linux are mentioned in the same breath, as are IE and Firefox - because the end-user platform doesn't really matter anymore.

Maybe he's on to something.

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