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Jason Ward's extreme 2018 tech predictions: PWA, mobile PCs, and more

Techies are an imaginative bunch. Envisioning what the future holds is just something we do.

Some of what we envision may be fanciful, ambitious and unlikely in our lifetimes. Other things, based on current technology and trends are almost a given.

In this piece, I will share my predictions for 2018. I believe that everything that will follow is not only plausible but likely in the coming year. Your opinion may differ. Time will tell.

Ambient computing and security concerns rising

Invoke Speaker with Cortana

Invoke Speaker with Cortana (Image credit: Windows Central)

We're living in an increasingly connected world. Smartphones, smart appliances, smart speakers, connected cars, the locks on our homes and more are connected to the internet. The growth of this connected reality and IoT is outpacing the regulations and legislation that would protect us.

Connected cars have been hacked both remotely and from within the vehicle. Smart homes have been breached allowing hackers access to everything connected to the home's WiFi, including the smartphones of guests. The government hacked smart TVs. And certain versions of the Amazon Echo are vulnerable to physical hacks.

As we continue trusting more of our lives and physical safety (internet connected door locks and connected cars) to the internet, those with malicious intent will further infiltrate our lives. As we approach a 2019 5G rollout, and more devices come online in 2018, I believe a critical mass will be reached that will force greater attention, and more regulations to address the inherent vulnerabilities of ambient computing in 2018.

Ambient computing puts us at greater risk from hackers

Celluar PCs and the carrier effect

Cellular PCs will become increasingly popular during 2018. Their smartphone-like attributes such as being always connected, long battery life and instant-on capabilities will begin training consumers to use them like they use smartphones.

Furthermore the eSIM technology that allows users to purchase data from different carriers through the Microsoft Store will give users more flexibility and choice regarding data plans. I predict this data purchasing model for a growing platform of connected devices will provoke carriers to become more competitive with their packages and offerings.

2018 will be the beginning of this shift, with greater impact in 2019 as the market becomes more saturated with cellular PCs and 5G begins to roll out.

How 5G and Progressive Web Apps may fix Microsoft's app gap

Microsoft's pocketable Surface and carriers beware

Microsoft will launch its pocketable telephony-enabled Surface the Fall of 2018. This will be a cellular PC, like the cellular PCs before it, but will have telephony. As such the eSIM tech that powers the device's connectivity will also support voice. Users will have the same carrier flexibility with voice plans as they will have with cellular PC data plans through the Microsoft Store.

I believe carriers that will have already begun to respond to a shift in the data purchasing model will foresee, with this telephony-enabled PC category, a need to become competitive with voice packages as well.

Carriers know that 5G will begin rolling out in 2019 and a new PC category with telephony introduced at the end of 2018 foreshadows a potential shift in the current device-voice-data model. Carriers will grow concerned that the adoption of this category over time (as PWAs and 5G make it more plausible) will also change the smart device distribution model. As this PC category will have flexible telephony options accessed through the Microsoft Store, carrier stores will become less important if, in the long run, this category leapfrogs smartphones as Microsoft hopes. I don't envision PWA adoption reaching a point where this device category will compete with smartphones until 2020, however.

Microsoft must leverage eSIM and edge computing to position ultramobile PCs

Progressive Web Apps (PWA), 5G and app gap begone

Though not all app types translate well to PWAs, 2018 will be the beginning of a broader use of PWAs on various device types including cellular PCs and Edge. This will be the start of an eradication of Microsoft's app gap, that will continue into 2019 as powerful processors, and 5G connectivity makes web apps respond like native apps.

We'll also begin hearing more from multiple companies about how PWAs and 5G will change the current "warehouse of apps" app model. Pay close attention to Build 2018, Google I/O and Apple's WWDC. As the 2019 5G rollout approaches the high-capacity, low-latency persistent connectivity it'll provide will make edge computing more pervasive. The reliability of secure, robust 5G networks will inspire companies to begin sharing, in 2018, their plans to embrace the web and cloud as a platform for apps.

This industry shift in the app model will begin in 2018 and reach a point that eradicates Microsoft's app gap, I believe, by 2020.

What is edge computing and how does it affect mobile?

Quick picks…

Edge computing will enable more powerful and intuitive AI on mobile devices. ODG will launch telephony-enabled AR smartglasses. And Qualcomm will win its fight against Broadcom's hostile takeover attempts.

These are some of my predictions, what are you expecting in 2018?

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

109 Comments
  • Careful Jason, after your last editorial they'll be baying for blood.
  • Yeah, anything that favours MS does not go down well with the Google/Apple "fans" ;-) 
  • So, why are they here? We're not there.
  • We don't need to be 'there', we have enough Android and iOS articles on Windows Central already.
  • Who's "they"?
  • Cave trolls, Mountain trolls and arse holes
  • Lol. That's what I suspected🤭🤭🤭
  • Funny. You say the word troll, and the stupid troll appears like a genie in a poof of smoke to claim his crown of shame.. 😂😂😂
  • WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH TRRRRRRROOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL.  
  • Nice set of predictions. Whether they happen or not, every prediction is reasonable and well thought out. I'll be checking over 2018 to see how these develop....
  • Would be interesting to see similar predictions from other editors.
  • Zac did one week before last.😉
  • Do you predict an update for this app in 2018? 😂
  • My 2018 predictions: I will still have a massive Xbox backlog to get through. That is all.
  • So, 2017 revisited? Yeah, me too.
  • Lol agreed I foresee the later half of 2018 to be consumed by anthem (if it launches as projected)
  • Thanks tbtalbot! I'll be checking too😃
  • Pocket pc will be back.
  • Hopefully.
  • I don't want a PC for a phone.  I'm hoping there will be OEMs that will make a phone using Microsoft's software somehow.  But I most likely will give it a go with whatever they (MS) come out with.  But I'm not keen on any mini PC with telephony features.
  • You seem to be getting caught up on the idea of "PC"
    What do you think Win10M was? It was every bit a PC, minus some minor functionality. iPhone and Android phones are personal computing devices. This is just another phone with more functionality built in (or not, depending on who makes it and the modularity of Win10)
  • @Devan You're absolutely correct.  I am getting caught up on the idea of "PC".  When I see "PC" first thing that comes to mind are "bugs", "Trojan Horses", "Malware", etc... and a need for anti-virus.  Therefore a less secure device.  I'm a Microsoft ardent user, but I don't want to have to worry about a device I use daily and have to constantly wonder if there's something that has attacked my device regardless how cautious I might have been.  Maybe those are or will be unwarrented concerns, but that's what I have at this moment.
  • That's a concern, but I'd be more bothered by the weight & bulk of the device. Couple that with the inherent structural weakness the hinge introduces and I'm out until it's refined to be at least as slim and sturdy as contemporary devices (I only buy aluminum or other metal phones, glass back just asking for trouble)
  • Then no wireless charging for you until the tech matures.
  • Don't care about wireless charging.
  • The device could be the size of a Nintendo 2DS XL, thinner and fold out to an 8" 4:3 screen.
  • Aspect ratio must be 1:4142
  • If it's not released to that spec you can just use a miter saw to take off the appropriate amount.
  • If you are running as Standard User then about the only infections you really have to worry about are user space ones and those are a problem with any platform as the user as admin rights in their user space.   Just stick with UWP or PWA with Standard User and you should never have a infection issue.  If you ever do, just factory reset, have your Windows config come back down along with your Store apps.
  • So basically any account then. I mean, one of the major adduitions in Vista was that all accounts run as standard user by default, until elevated privileges are needed, in which case UAC kicks in. Just don't blindly click "allow" when the UAC primps pops up and you have the same level of security.
  • You need to get a bit more up to date. Not only are PCs more protected against bugs and malware than ever before, but smart phones (specifically Android ones) are in many ways more susceptible than PCs to both. There really isn't a difference based on the form factor or name. It's about how much protection the app model provides, and UWP is much more secure than Android's.
  • This is exactly what I want, if the PC's phone capabilities are not just a glorified Skype client.
  • That's another concern.  How will the phone capabilities work?  If it's just Skype type client, then count me out.  I have no interest in that at all. 
  • If you own a smartphone that is exactly what you already have. Processors from now on will be almost near or at an Intel Atom computing level and moving upwards in processing power.
  • What you just said doesn't make sense. If OEM's decide to use WOA what's the difference?
  • @rodneyej Is that question coming to me?  :)
  • Yes. For you.. It's not like MS is making a separate mobile OS. Whatever features available for Andromeda most likely will be available for any pocketable device, at the very least by continuum. If you don't like a feature, just don't use it. You feel me?
  • And that's my point.  If Microsoft's Andromeda can be ported/used in a device (aka phone) by an OEM then great.  But if it's only for a "PC" then it's not a device that's for me.  Now one can argue that smartphones are really tiny PCs, but I never had the sense that using my smartphone I was going to accidently miss type a site or hit a bad link and then get some type of virus.  Nor have I ever worried about getting ransomware on my smartphone.  Those are all things that affects "PCs".  Now, there are those who will read these comments and make light of it as wasted concerns, but those are same people who will whine and point fingers if they ever encounter such issues. 
  • Lol. Ok, man. I'm waving the white flag.. I've been in a two hour long argument on another site about cars, and I'm exhausted.. You win this round by forfeit. 😆😆😆😆😆😂😂😂😂😭😭😭😭😭 🤔🤔🤔🚬🔋💤💤💤💤
  • LOL!  :) Too funny!  I don't ever remember you throwing in the towel.  But, unlike most I'm not trying to be argumentative.  I'm merely trying to bring up a concern I have with any device that may be considered a PC.  It may or may not have any merit to some.  But it's still a concern to me.  We'll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.
  • Careful Whodaboss,  You are going to get TROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEDDDDDD.  By RodneyEJBABY.   Run home rodney with your ball.  Mommy has ice cream for you to make it all better....WAAAAAAHHHHHHHH
  • Whoda..... You see this guy?
    .......
    Got some real special ones in this world.
  • Rodney is so messed up he's now talking about himself in the third person.  check it!
  • Phone is a swear word around here.
  • So, Surface Phone & Microsoft will fix the app gap... Like deja vu all over again.
  • No, not Microsoft will fix the app gap, an industry-wide standard, PWA, will be adopted by the industry and Microsoft will benefit from that shift from the current app model.
  • Man, Jason.. If he doesn't know the deal by now, he'll never know.
  • Well as per your title, indeed the predictions are extreme ;) PWA will have some adoption but not inductry wide and will not replace apps so soon atleast not this year, remember edge support is yet to come. Also browser based apps can be restricted for ads via adblockers, tracker blockers etc, something that devs wont prefer, hence we see the current PWA are the service based apps that want to reach out to customer and not looking to monetize the apps, same will not be true for others.   the expected Carrier shift is also extreme, unless Apple or someone jumps into such model. MS is not known to drive such adoption en masse. Might happen in next 5 yrs, but MS cannot accelerate such drive unless Apple or Google jump in.
  • Hey techeiz, yeah I only expect a greater adoption of PWA this year. I projected we'd see some adoption this year, and more info at the Build, Google I/O and WWDC this year. Much broader adoption I predicted for next year. And though extreme heres what I said in the piece😃: The reliability of secure, robust 5G networks will inspire companies to begin sharing, in 2018, their plans to embrace the web and cloud as a platform for apps.
    "This industry shift in the app model will begin in 2018 and reach a point that eradicates Microsoft's app gap, I believe, by 2020." As far as the carrier shift, Apple and Google may not be required if as I point out carriers see a telephony-enabled cellular PC category as potentially changing the device-data-voice-model. It's that very shift of a category of devices, PCs that sale in the tens of millions, as they, as a norm, become part of the cellular road map that will influence carriers. Apple and Google are part of the old smartphone model carriers currently cater to. As voice and data become part of the cellular PC model with OEM support, carriers will have to contend with that new variable.😉
  • hey Jason.  Could it be that Microsoft "Andromeda"  is actually Google "Andromeda" with a skin?  Considering its the same name used for the OS to do the same purpose?   Maybe Ol' Satya has been holding out on us.   The more I read about the two,  the more eerily similar they are.   PWA, One os running on many form factors including ARM.....etc.   Any thoughts?
  • Anything is possible, but Google reportedly canceled their Andromeda project.
  • Only an idiot would link the two projects.....
  • You can see that too?
  • Yep totally bonze....nice!   if there is no link  MS should be sued for using the name....simple.  Only a true idiot wouold NOT see the relationship acutally.   Andromeda from google.   ONE OS to run on all devices.   Andromeda from MS..One os to run on all devices....seeing as most of the android devices are ARM and MS andromeda..(cant even come up with an original name), is developed to run on ARM devices.   jesus fanboys here are wacky!
  • @Jason  : Well its not that your premise is incorrect, but just dont trust MS to drive it, they have screwed up too many times, lets see.
  • So after years of building brand recognition & curating app stores Google, Apple, & Microsoft(lol) will cast that model aside to embrace web pages that act more like apps. Decentralized app availability based on a Google standard, combined with a Surface phone & the promise of 5G (which will cost at least a couple hundred billion dollars to roll out, but will somehow make carriers irrelevant too) will combine to form the necessary conditions to construct the robot Voltron.... Sorry, got lost in the convolutions. It's all pretty silly, but yeah sure, Surface phone & that app gap will get fixed, this is the year!
  • Read again. I didn't say THIS is the year the app gap would be fixed. Your attempts at sarcasm are causing you to make arguments against points I didn't make😉
  • Sorry, if an article is titled 2018 tech predictions & actually contains predictions about 2020 or 2022 or whatever, then the sarcasm is justified.
  • Not if your an astute reader, bub78. I clearly make predictions for 2018 and identify when certain predictions are foundational to derivative effects that I believe will be manifest at a later time. Since investments in the tech industry rarely are confined to the yearly perspective many consumers confine themselves to (but are multi-year bets that may not yield the targeted fruit until years later), it was not only prudent, but appropriate to provide how some of these 2018 investments are incremental steps to a broader goal.😉
  • Year 2020? Android or iOS might be too late to compete and fans are long gone...
  • So google's pwa's are going to close ms app gap? Ghe:), they must be nice people. I just have 1 prediction/hope, and that is mainstream availability of 10 inch lightweight convertibles, 845, that will surely win people over on either windows or chrome. Like the yogabook but then serious this time, meaning good keyboard/pen etc. 
  • Inzenty, Google and MS are working together on PWAs, and Apple and Mozilla have adopted them as well.
  • PWAs are not going to be some app gap saviour. 
  • Ok. Care to elaborate 🙂?
  • It's a no brainer with strong backing from the biggest phone software vendor(google) and the biggest desktop/laptop software vendor(MS). Kepp your head buried.
  • On the contrary, I don't think you'll see much in the way of erosion of data prices.  In fact, I think you'll see a very quiet collusion between carriers to protect their sacred cow, particularly with "always-connected" PCs.  I don't believe carriers will make it any less costly to add more lines to accounts. Perhaps up front, they might, but there will be additional costs not immediately obvious and consumers will find they've been hoodwinked. 5G rollout will not likely be any faster the LTE did, which took years to reach out past metropolitan areas. As prices for smartphone-like devices continue to soar, the market will continue to decline and companies, seeing less return on investment, will become less adventurous in their creation of "new form factors".  Devices such as Microsoft's rumored foldable will turn out to have more problems that solutions, be overpriced and will at best find a home in some enterprise customers but be largely ignored by the masses who will still perfer their iPhones and Android devices...PWA making it even easier to simply stay where you are.  
  • Yes, unless someone like Apple jumps in, Carriers wont budge, its silly to think MS will be able to drive carriers to change their business model, lol.   Same with 5G, speed is not the one limiting PWAs and 5G is gonna do magic for PWAs. As of now no browser other than Chrome fully supports it and we dream of developers rushing to jump on PWA model ditching the years of dev efforts put on apps. 2030 yes likely. 2020 simply no.
  • Techiez,  Even the mighty apple tried to change their business models...They failed too.   
  • ScubaDog I believe the flexibility with eSIM amd the Microsoft Store gives users in the way purchasing data plans through thr Store, almost "on the fly" (not THAT simple but you get my point) is a level of consumer control that will make carriers more aggressively position thier Data plans to be appealing.
    When you have someone sitting at home, in a car, on a bus, in a park who can easily go to the Store and will conceivably be able compare and select who they want to purchase data from, sellers (aka Carriers) will want their options to stand out. Thus, my prediction that as cellular PCs become more normalized carriers will make thier data plans more competitive.
    As voice enters the picture on a telephony-enabled category supported by OEMs I believe the same will be true.
  • Jason I think the stuff about the impact of eSIM is a US-centric view - I'm not suggesting that here in the UK we've reached the promised land (in any way) but there's already a lot more choice among carriers and innovative startups reselling voice and data capacity on the back of our "big four" networks. There are already some reasonable data-led deals for those who need them, but as a daily user of mobile computing I wonder how real this need is for most people. Most of the time I can find a usable public wifi network and when I can't there's always tethering via my phone, the mobile data allowance of which (2gb per month) I rarely use. And of course there's always offline working, which is incredibly important, and why Chromebooks are practically useless (because their offline mode is useless). Perhaps 5g will change things, and perhaps cellular PCs will too, but it may be the other way round - that the benefits of a cellular connection on your PC are actually marginal. Other aspects of such a device (instant on etc) may prove more important in driving market adoption, but then I wonder too whether those of us who want full PC functionality on a mobile device are in a niche... and the rest of the world are already getting what they want from their phones. I don't know the answer, because I'm in the niche
  • Prediction?.........Paaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnn
  • 🙄
  • Here is the reference in case anyone missed it and especially for the down voter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSPNQ82Sq4E Hmmmm...maybe I should have put that comment in quotations....
  • Ok. Let me check it out... This app sucks. can't click on links anymore.
  • @Deaconclgi . It's hard for humour to be translated through text lol and plus most people are so forgetful these days due to using social media as their "memory retention" service(s).
  • ....for my wallet
  • "Connected cars have been hacked both remotely and from within the vehicle. " There have been instances of remote dupelication of digital car keys, where one person aims a  device at your house and replicates your digital car key, and another uses another device to relay to the car - with this method they can unlock and steal your car - all without any physical access to your car keys. "Smart homes have been breached allowing hackers access to everything connected to the home's WiFi, including the smartphones of guests. The government hacked smart TVs. And certain versions of the Amazon Echo are vulnerable to physical hacks. " Smart home devices are inefficiently coded and by approach are unpatched. "By approach" to make money companies are still in the bulk creation mindset, where they have cut costs down the chain including software to generate greater profits. Smart TV's also fall in that category, along with infotainment systems as manufacturers only understand hardware not software. This precisely why Microsoft foregoing the consumer space is absolutely detrimental to everyone, because out of Google and Apple as long with other OEMs suchas Car Manufacturers. Only Microsoft have managed to create a unified core and as such the ability to patch security flaws much more quicker than anyone else. But of course they are far to short sighted to realise that they are leaving a digital diamond mine out in the open. I'll briefly explain - The beauty of the windows core is that it is modular and by being modular it can work across a variety of devices for example an infotainment system (In regards to infotainment systems they can be used inconjunction with security chips or multiple security chips to lock down the ECU for instance - however therein is another paradox i.e infineon TPM flaw) or a smart tv's UX can be one of those modules. This also allows them to leverage azure, create more store access points therefore increasing the reach of Microsoft store therefore allowing increasing monetisation incentives for developers, which in turn means more apps. Sure, by increasing the number Windows Core devices does mean you create additional "access points" for security flaws but that's why you don't fire your programmatic testers and chuck testing work on developers. As if you are working on a piece of code for a while you begin to subconscious fill in and code correcting mentally, similiarly when you type an essay you read it correctly but somehow just overlook simple typos. In regards to PWA, the security infrastructure is not there yet sure 5g may help enable access and transmission of data. But you need secure layer for PWA to work off and that foundation is UWP.... As I said time and time again, UWP has become new circular argument. Never the less if PWA becomes the industry standard, then equally all data nodes will have to secured to an incomprehensible level. As any data breach will expose not just millions but billions of users.
  • Was discussing 5G and Cellular PCs with a Verizon tech the other day.  We were actually working on a OneTalk implementation to replace some old key PBXs, but the conversation got around to 5G devices.  We were talking about physical infrastructure - our cabling, switches, etc, and I made the comment that "3 years from now we'll be talking about running *my* network within *their* (Verizon's) network."  In other words, sometime down the road, the cellular "n"G network will be robust enough to obsolete a bunch of my in house physical cabling/pathways.   Kind of blew his mind for a bit, but he got the picture and could see where I was coming from.
  • I don't doubt it will be robust enough at some point, but I have my doubts as to how secure it will be.  Honestly, how many businesses will be ready to "nest" their network within a completely wireless "superstructure" that the business doesn't have control over?  It's absolutely enticing, given how really easy it would make installing and managing an enterprise network.  People are doing it in their homes now and don't even think about it (which is part of a bigger problem).  I just see a big old Pandora's Box opening up if that's where things go.  Not that we SHOULDN'T, mind you, but there needs to be a lot more discussion and groundwork established.
  • It'll probably happen someday, & maybe finally with 5G, but I've read that same claim with most new iterations of improved wireless standard for the last decade plus. I wouldn't plan on selling the copper in your walls for scrap just yet, lol.
  • A Last pass PWA and a Code Academy PWA will be nice for me.
  • Hello! I thought I should let you guys know. I'm not sure if it's only my phone 📱 or it's the last update of the app that caused this. I've noticed that all recent news especially on phones are doubled. This wasn't the case previously. It was recently noticed following the last update. Anybody else seen this kind if development? Could it be sorted out too? I ought not to paste it here, but just hoping a moderator somewhere could look into this Thank you...
  • I doubt that  Microsoft share your vision about PWA and 5G otherwise they wouldnt kill the smartphone line and look for new form factor (cost huge money I assume) since having a phone with Windows OS in it will benefit from the eradication of app gap issue you are talking about. I am not expecting too much from Microsoft anymore. they are heading to be like IBM and their focus is the enterpirse (cloud and office 365). any other division not making profit will be shut down may be its xBox time this year (I heard they made very poor profit this year, true?) I wonder if we can get some sales figures for the Surface products compared to the other brands ( in which category we can classify them, top 10, 100?)      
  • How about Xbox and PC gamer? Enterprise focus?
  • The paragraph after the enterprise focus part of my post is the answer to your question.
  • Hi Game_Over, Microsoft is in fact all in with PWAs.😉
  • PREDICTION FOR 2018: Windows central still won't fix the ever broken WP app.
  • That goes without saying! :P
  • I don't like you right now, but I do like