I've grown up with computers. While watching old computer TV programmes and documentaries and reading the news about constant issues with these modern systems -- everything from the sheer amount of change/bloat/costs to all the security and privacy issues -- one thing that really stikes me hard is:
Why do normal people need computers that are so powerful and complicated?
In decades past, we used simpler, less powerful computers to perform all kinds of tasks, without the issues we face today.
I'm not suggested we swap out current computers for thin clients. I'm simply saying that current computers seem more powerful than necessary for vast majority of tasks that any person employed by an average company would logically need.
Even in the early 1990s, computers had advanced to the point where "all basic input/output tasks" were "solved". If I were running a company, I would create a minimal computer terminal which runs a minimal OS, and which just boots up and displays a "browser-like" interface that talks over HTTPS to my "mainframe". I'd use a simple username/password system, with no password resets or two-factor auth, and once logged in, the employee would see only the sections that are relevant for them, coded by me. For example, a secretary would see a basic form where she can input appointments, list current ones, etc. A different kind of employee, whose job is just to deal with customer support, would only see a minimal list of current support tickets and only have the ability to respond to these in a manner which cannot be misunderstood or abused. I'd log every action so that I can later look up exactly who messed up or went rogue.
I notice that modern systems don't seem to work that way. Instead, we have full-fledged PCs with expensive, bloated, and insecure Microsoft or Linux software. We spend enormous amounts of time, effort, and money to educate employees on how to use it, maintain it, and deal with all the problems that inevitably arise from exposing the general public to such complicated systems.
Why is this? Why is the only choice between a complex Windows system, a fragile Linux, or some kind of ChromeOS thin client that exposes my data to Google? Why don't we have a privacy-respecting, minimal thin client OS that can't do anything but display basic HTML, basic CSS and connect over HTTPS, has no system storage or ability to change it, and is just something you hook up to a standard display and network cable and mouse and keyboard.
I realize one still needs to administer the server/mainframe, but presumably this could be done by skilled professionals, rather than the general public.
Can you help me understand why computing works this way today?