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Get Your Gears On

I'll admit it. I've never honestly believed any of the talk about Google seriously challenging Microsoft's hegemony in the software business. For all of Google's success in search, in advertising, in Web mail and in consumer Internet applications, Microsoft enjoys the strategic high ground.

No, I don't mean Redmond's overriding advantage in operating systems and productivity applications. I mean the company's incredible developer support network, capable tooling and vast research efforts, which enable it to stave off almost any threat. But today, for the first time, I wonder if Google might have an outside shot at all this.

I'm talking about Google Gears of course, the open source browser plug-in that lets developers finally bridge the gap between online Web and offline apps. You can read more in Keith Ward's initial coverage of the Google Gears announcement here.

Using Google Gears, developers can create apps, using JavaScript APIs, that can download code and data to the local client to work even without a connection. From browsing e-mail archives to managing Google docs and spreadsheets, the new capability opens all sorts of opportunities for businesses looking to deploy lightweight, connected, Web-based applications.

No doubt, I expect Microsoft to offer a sincere and vigorous response to Google Gears. Efforts like Office Live and Windows Live certainly lay the competitive groundwork for such a response. The question is: Can Microsoft provide a compelling counter to Google as the search engine giant draws the argument in its favor? In an era of increasingly rich cross-platform Web applications, that task becomes more difficult.

Do you plan to look into Google Gears for your corporate application development? What benefits and problems do you expect from working with the platform? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 06/20/2007 at 1:15 PM

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