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Enterprise tech puts focus on users at last

The story of enterprise computing is increasingly one of convergence, in which all the different strands of work that people do on different devices are being woven together to create a single, seamless cloth.

What started as a perceived problem for businesses — people bringing smartphones and tablets from home into the office, and using them for tasks outside the control of the IT department — has gradually grown into a recognition that this kind of anywhere, anytime work is actually a good thing, and a goal to strive for.

Microsoft advanced that thinking last year when it launched its latest operating system update, Windows 10. Built for a cloud and mobile world, Windows 10 is, Microsoft says, the company’s first “universal platform.” What that means is that, by using the same code no matter what device the operating system is put to work on, Windows 10 aims to provide users with a consistent experience wherever they take it. Smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC … the experience is the same across all of them, though always uniquely adapted to the characteristics of each particular type of device.

This year, Google is moving that progress further along by melding its Chrome operating system with its Android OS for mobile devices. Chromebooks have already taken the education sector in the U.S. by storm because of their affordability, speed and always up-to-date nature, and Google is now hoping to sell enterprise users on those same benefits. By adding access to the large universe of Android business apps to the Chrome experience — the update is planned for later this year — Google sees new opportunities for users, developers and enterprises alike.

What the next step in this evolution will look like, and who will take it, remains to be seen. But the overall direction is clear: the computing experience is increasingly changing from one centered on hardware, software and legacy thinking, to one focused squarely on the needs of end users. In other words, technology is finally being designed for people rather than systems.

About time, too.

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