Why are all these full-fledged workstations running massive OSes with massive software required all over the world?

I’ve grown up with computers. I use them every single day, all day. I’m old enough (mid-30s) to have experienced a lot of interactions with “the general public”. In particular in later years, I have been thinking a lot about everything around me. While watching old computer TV programmes and documentaries, and then 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 in the World are all these normal people suddenly needing these over-powered, over-complicated machines?!

In decades past, they used infinitely less powerful and simple machines to perform all kinds of tasks with zero of the issues we face today.

Please note that I’m not suggesting that they swap them all out for some “thin client” spygear from Google/Microsoft/whatever. I’m simply saying that it seems to me that they are fundamentally overpowered and overcomplicated for the vast majority of tasks that any person employed by a normal, non-highly specialized IT company, or government entity, would logically need.

I’m also not talking about “running Linux”.

I’m saying that, even in the early 1990s, computers had advanced to the point where “all basic input/output tasks” were ridiciulously “solved”. If I were running a company, I would have some sort of minimal computer terminal made which runs the truly most minimal OS you can imagine, which is stripped entirely from anything beyond just instant booting up and displaying a “browser-like” interface which just talks over HTTPS to my “mainframe”.

This interface would have a simple username/password system, with no demands to reset passwords or “two-factor auth” or any of that nonsense, and once logged in, the employee would see only the “sections” that are relevant for them, coded by me.

For example, a secretary would be seeing 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 be seeing a very clear and minimal list of current support tickets and only have the ability to respond to these in a manner which cannot be misunderstood or abused.

Every action is of course logged so that I can later look up exactly who messed up or “went rogue”.

In reality, the exact opposite appears to be the case: they buy these bulky, full-fledged, massive PCs with super-expensive, super-bloated, super-insecure Microsoft (or Linux, for that matter) software and have to spend enormous amounts of time, efforts and money to educate all the employees on how to use it, maintain it, and deal with all the problems that inevitably arise from letting loose the “general public” to such incredibly complicated systems.

It frankly makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. It really annoys me that there is such universal waste and incompetence.

I’m sure that somebody will reply saying that I’m naive and haven’t considered something. Maybe you’ll say that no such OS exists. Well, why is that, then? Why is the choice only between the bloated, spying monstrosity Windows 10, the absolute fragile and ever-breaking nightmare Linux, or some kind of “ChromeOS” spyware? I may not be a genius, but I know roughly what it would take to make such a privacy-respecting, truly minimal “thin client OS” as I propose, which literally can’t do anything but display basic HTML, basic CSS and connect over HTTPS. It has no system storage or ability to change anything about it. It’s just a little thing you hook up to a standard display and network cable and mouse and keyboard.

Yes, there’s still the nightmare of dealing with the actual “mainframe”/server (I honestly don’t understand why even a massive company would require more than one in this day and age, given their immense power), but that would obviously be done by a very skilled and highly paid professional, or series of such professionals, and not the “general public”.

I hope that this doesn’t sound “rude” or “condescending” or anything. It’s not my intention. I really wish I could understand this whole situation of computers today and why they insist on this madness instead of doing what I propose, which is infinitely cheaper and more secure and nicer for everyone involved. (Except for the large corporations that sell expensive computers/software, of course.)

PS: I had a very hard time picking tags for this question, but this must be the most appropriate StackSite to ask this on, no?