For the last couple of months, whenever a discussion about Google has arisen (which happens surprisingly often), I have at some point insisted that we will, within the next year or so, see Google release the first few ‘proper’ applications that are entirely web based. We’re all used to web-based email clients, and the connection is obvious after all. What I am talking about is the kind of applications that just about every person that uses a computer for business purposes ends up utilizing. My usual example is Microsoft Office, since that is probably the most universal piece of Microsoft software after Windows itself. Convincing people to use a free online equivalent, rather than dishing out for the retail version that includes more functionality than most people need anyway would hardly be difficult (especially considering the ‘always on internet’ is becoming more and more commonplace). Once people are accustomed to the idea of using online productivity tools, they will quite happily use any other new applications on the same format. Think of it in terms of the transition from DOS to Windows applications; initially resistance was huge, but I doubt most users today would go back to DOS based applications. The web also seems to have a way of reassuring people, once they have become accustomed to browsing and using basic online applications, they easily adapt to new web based applications without even realizing it. By comparison, new non-web based software tools typically meet heavy resistance from users that are used to an established tool, despite usually being quite similar.
Usually, by this point, one or more of my colleagues will have given me funny looks and/or said I’m nuts. Well at this point I can, with great satisfaction, present them with a great, big, fat I told you so! This is because the first of these applications will apparently be available soon. Google has acquired a startup called Upstartle, the creators of the collaborative online word processor Writely. Writely will undoubtedly be re-branded as a Google product and will be added to Google’s growing list of online tools that serve to increase its already substantial targeted advertising space. Thanks a stack for proving me right Google, now please look at creating a free online development environment, that would be just dandy!