Thursday 24 January 2008

Microsoft Apps vs Google Apps

Battle of the applications

I am convinced that the battle of the Internet will continue for many years, and it is clear, to me at least, that at this stage Google are way ahead in the search engine arena. This is almost too obvious to state.

The next battle that is about to begin, is the battle of the online application. I consider myself to be a medium to heavy user of the Internet: banking, email, research, development, weather, maps, directions, holidays, VPN, ...the list goes on. I have learned that as much as I think that I am an individual, I am not alone. Thousands, if not millions are becoming more comfortable with shifting more of their life into the online cloud.

Can office applications be moved online?

Microsoft are now offering a free web site and URL with Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business initiatives. I pre-registered for the Beta of Live Workspace today, I will post my findings once I gain access. It is clear that Microsoft are considering Google Apps to be a serious threat to the Microsoft Office suite - the single largest earner for Microsoft.

Google Apps is well established, and I for one am amazed at what can be done with the recent addition of Ajax to the web developer's toolkit. Recent additions to the documents include charts, drag-and-drop, custom backgrounds. The question is, how long will it be before the online office applications are as good as their desktop counter-parts? Are these application really usable or am I just impressed by what has been achieved within the browser?

My brother, who is also in the software development arena, bought me a copy of the the Google story for Christmas. Having read the book, it is now very clear why Google are such a threat to Microsoft. Simply put, they are growing exponentially financed by their unique advertising model (read the book if you are interested). Google's financial security and their attitude towards research and development mean that they are now a massive influence on the direction of the software that we will be using in the future.

Until recently, Google was purely an Internet based offering. I am now using Google desktop for indexing the files and emails on my laptop and desktop PCs. I have Google mobile on my mobile phone and Blackberry to read my online documents. A blue dot tells me where I am in the world on my mobile when I access Google maps by referencing the location of the mobile phone mast that I am connecting to. How long will it be before Google office applications appear on my desktop?

Will Google take the next logical step and release an operating system? Will we need anything other than a browser and a mobile device?

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