End of Picasa another nail in the desktop’s coffin

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16 February 2016 | 0

Niall Kitson portraitSo Google is shuttering Picasa’s Web Albums and the excellent desktop application. Given the migration of services away from the desktop client towards the browser and the cloud you can’t say the move is unexpected – especially for a service run by Google. Still, it’s annoying and another example of how a move to the cloud can often feel like a shove.

If you’ve been relying on Picasa to order, edit and publish your images you’ve got until 1 May to find a new storage option, while client software development will end on 15 March. Google will want you to move over to Google Photos and there are plenty of valid reasons to do so, top of the list being its mobile apps. Google isn’t leaving the desktop behind completely, there is an ‘uploader’ for getting images off non Web-connected devices and posting them online.

Is Google Photos the image organiser you’ve been looking for? For most people it is. The interface is simple and intuitive, what’s left out in features like face detection, movie editing and picture mapping it makes up convenience and unlimited storage capacity. Will peope mind that they are effectively turning their precious moments into a commodity? That’s a fight best left to the EU to sort as it closes in on a replacement for Safe Harbour and a unified vision for the Digital Single Market.

One group you can be sure will not be impressed by this are OEMs who are struggling to shift unsold inventory following the release of Windows 10. Depending on the format you’re shooting in file sizes can be enormous (especially RAW files) and having plenty of capacity is essential for storing and backing up. In a market where 1Tb drives are becoming the norm in think and light laptops circling the €1,000 price point, adding infinite capacity through a broadband connection is a kick in the guts to the Dells and the Lenovos trying to sell high-spec machines. If you can get everything done on a Chromebook – like Google wants – then why opt for an expensive Ultrabook of similar height and weight? As the netbook era taught us, big brands will only suffer small, low-margin devices for so long.

Still, as Picasa moves on up to the cloud, OEM’s can be certain that while things may be quiet now, the mid- to high-spec PC is on the cusp of a resurgence thanks to virtual and augmented reality. Increased demands on memory and graphics capabilities will ensure that whatever functions are being lost to the desktop will be ably replaced by HTC, Oculus and Sony’s offerings when they arrive on the open market.

So long Picasa. You had a good run. Maybe I’ll take this as an excuse to brush up on my Photoshop skills. Because that’s one desktop stalwart than isn’t going anywhere. Oh….

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