Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

A World of Free Online Apps

Category: Business, Office

In CNN Money, Om Malik talks about the shift to online apps.

The browser is the new OS. Yes, we’ve heard this before, and if you’re quietly groaning right about now, I can understand why.

It’s been 10 years since a barefoot Marc Andreessen graced the cover of Time magazine and trumpeted how the browser would make the operating system irrelevant. By uttering the unthinkable, he brought the ire of Bill Gates down on Netscape. Now, Netscape as a Web powerhouse is gone and Andreessen is no longer a magazine cover boy. Yet his vision of computing through a browser window turns out to have been prescient, if premature.

Mobile will play a major role as well.

Things will get more exciting for entrepreneurs when we all start walking around with new Internet-ready portable devices such as the Nokia 770 Internet tablet or smartphones such as the Motorola Q and Nokia E61.

These pocket-size monsters with keyboards, luscious displays, and brisk 3G connections will soon replace laptops. All they need are browsers that can access Web-based software as easily as your desktop can. (I already use a Nokia E61 to help manage my website and write short blog posts from within the phone’s browser. Soon I’ll be able to run the whole site from my phone’s browser.)

If you’re a developer or startup, you are suddenly free to write a browser-based application and quit worrying about which operating system, chip, or device your consumers are using.

It’s a scary thought for anyone who built a business around proprietary formats. But for the end user, this is the kind of future that Andreessen on his best days – and maybe Gates on his worst – had envisioned.

It’s pretty clear that MS fended off the late-90s threat of Office-in-the-cloud. What’s not clear is whether Google, Zoho, and others will produce something compelling enough to attract the mainstream enterprise market away from MS Office. For one thing, any office product will have to ensure data is secure to gain serious market share, and that probably means a server appliance running inside the firewall. Strong compatibility with MS-Office formats will be another key factor.

Posted by Michael Mahemoff at 1:24 am

3.1 rating from 32 votes


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“The browser is the new OS”

Comment by Snootz — October 24, 2006

“The browser is the new OS” is the new “The network is the computer”.

Comment by Andy — October 24, 2006

Why would anybody want a clumsy browser based office software “behind a firewall” if there is a free Open Office that runs on free platforms?

Comment by drx — October 24, 2006

I wrote a lot more than just “the browser is the new OS”, but I think it was so anti-ajax it blew up the comment box. That comment is as stupid as saying “The windshield is the new car”. When are people going to get tired of screwing with browsers instead of just writing applications? Why reinvent the wheel? I see the dojo guys getting excited about having a 2D graphics engine. What year is this? 83? Get over it, at the end of the day there’s a guy sitting in front of a computer who needs to do some work or play some games or talk to his friends, why make it harder for us to give him that experience? Forget this stupid concept of “the browser” as a layer of abstraction that you have to screw with to write apps. Personally I’m sick of it, after my current contract, I’m getting out of Ajax development, it sucks. THE NETWORK WORKS WITHOUT THE BROWSER PEOPLE, STOP SHOVING ALL YOUR APPS INTO IT.

Comment by Snootz — October 24, 2006

Haha, I have to agree with Snootz on many of his points. The web app has its place, but it is definitely not going to bring about the end of the traditional OS (at least, not with the current technologies available).

The fact is that we’re still extremely limited by the browser sandbox, and traditional application development should not fall by the wayside. How many UI axioms are we breaking by building nested applications inside the browser window?

It’s ridiculous to see so many developers forgetting that the only real advantage of web apps is portability and the lack of an install. I can’t think of a good reason you’d need an online office suite because how often do you really need to write a report on someone else’s computer? C’mon — let’s think about these things!

Comment by Ed — October 26, 2006

I agree. I see some major issues with on-line apps:

1. What happens to the [insert your type] business that uses only on-line apps when the ‘line’ is down. If yahoo is down for a day, I am useless for a day–can’t update/access files/calendars/etc.;

2. Since we can do all of the above in-house, why should I create more bandwidth when I don’t have to (at some point we all have to look at this issue); and

3. I know my security. How many times have we seen XYZ’s security hacked or their files accessed? I like MY data in MY house.

Just a thought…

Comment by Counsel — October 29, 2006

How about, utilising a chached flash office system in which is on your pc regardless of whether or not you’re even connected to the internet. Utilising flash to save your own files to your hard drive can be done – and using flash.. Well you don’t have to worry about which OS your using, what’s more you have no updates that need installing to run it and of course you don’t have to install or even download the program!
Imagine utilising the WHOLE INTERNET as your hard drive of programs, with millions of games and programs to access and use for FREE without a download in sight, without the worry of viruses from traditional downloading.
The software is just there, ready, at your finger tips for whatever task you need doing.

Personally I would rather be running a clean fast running version of windows with just 2 installations, flash and a browser… Think about it – This is what is inevitable.

Comment by Attilio Infante — March 2, 2007

Hi all,

Found this good website…for those that wish to have a business and earn money online.


Comment by kim — September 7, 2007

Great stuff. This is all about how we can successfully use web 2.0 in our businesses. Check out http://www.squidoo.com/cbpro

Comment by Learn Affiliate Marketing — October 27, 2007

One of the best ways to distribute your own software is using the usenet. The usenet content you produce is mirrored by millions of servers and almost instantly indexed by usenet search engines.

Comment by Usenetanbieter — February 26, 2008

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