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A top Microsoft Corp. executive defended desktop application software, the source of the company's revenue for three decades, arguing in a presentation last week that even services-based companies such as Google Inc. still need it.
The comments by Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business applications division, come as Microsoft is trying to position itself as a company capable of delivering applications over the Internet as well as on PCs, its traditional distribution model.
"It's interesting some our competitors who like to espouse the idea that software is dead," said Raikes said. "I think they're worried that actually people like a lot of what they have at their fingertips and the real success is to use a combination."
Microsoft: Web Apps Won't Kill Off The Desktop [news.yahoo.com]
I think that's the key to this, and the winners will be those that can produce a seamless experience.
Connectivity today isn't quite ubiquitous, and the thought that access to all your work, your accounting, your photos, etc., is dependent on a DSL line or the availability of WiFi if you are mobile is still off-putting.
We are gradually getting to the point where Internet access will be as common and reliable as water or electricity, but until we've been there for a few years people will still want some of their stuff to be local.
The real question is whether web-based apps can create a good model for offline use and synchronized local data, or whether desktop apps will introduce compelling online storage and collaboration features.
They are obviously very worried about it (and have been for a while) all or they wouldn't have gone to all the effort of killing Netscape.
I think that even though we will still need a desktop, in the future that will not need to be a Microsoft desktop for us to use the same apps as anyone else.
If you look at websites as web apps then they are already dominating old-skool apps, even webmasterworld is a web-app. People do not need windows for web apps like they need windows for Office. I think this scares them more than the desktop being killed totally. They will lose control over the 'software ecosystem' and I think that keeps them awake at night.
Google and Mozilla are working on new cool syncronisation stuff, Google Gears and Mozilla Prism are looking very interesting.
I would just like to map a web location as a drive letter and open, edit and save in any application.
I thought there are a few ways to do this?
WebDAV was designed for this but I am not sure what happened to it (probably killed to prevent web/internet apps taking over). It is not looking very healthy at the moment.
On Linux/Mac OSX you can use fuse/sshfs or KDE IO slaves to do this (my websites are all mounted locally and I can open them how I like). KIO slaves are very cool and would allow you to open web files directly, they should be coming to windows with KDE 4.
Obviously you need to own the website to do this, I don't think it would be a good idea to allow anyone to modify any site ;)
There was a firefox plugin called grease monkey which allowed you to modify sites that you do not own (it modifies them after downloading), but last I heard it was causing some serious security problems for its users (rogue scripts). Its a shame because there were some cool demos.
joined:Dec 29, 2003
At the moment millions of hours are lost because files/emails are on another machine. Making the data personal and portable is the next step. We could create secure stores where this data is backed up to but day-to-day would work from the key.
If the web had better functionality like richer GUIs (XUL/Flash etc) and better local storage (Google Gears etc) then the os and applications can become a commodity and most data based apps can run inside a modified web browser (like Mozilla Prism), if custom extensions are available in the USB key then there is no need to install your apps on the actual PC. 8Gb keys are becoming available soon, so it should be possible to carry all your email/passwords/docs safely.
Recent motherboards now have 'instant on' web environments which are Linux with Firefox and Skype. I think this sort of PC will be the future, they will be instant on and combined with your apps on the key it will make for a perfect portable computing experience. There will always be a need for the full blown local apps like Photoshop, but even Adobe is talking about a cut-down web version.
If you run a small company in a developing country for example and need basic office applications and collaboration tools for your staff, you can be very tempted by feature poor but cost effective web based counterparts (google apps for example).
I believe this is M$'s growing concern at the moment
Unless software (e.g. OpenOffice) and online applications (e.g. Google Docs) become as easy to use as the MS Office products we are used to, and have a marketing budget to get the name of the product out, it is unlikely that MS Office will lose its hold on the market.
At the same time, I've recommended Google Docs to some people I know (college students) and they use it all the time. So it's possible that the next generation of users will just use online applications instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for software. Especially if Google keeps making them available for free.
[edited by: Kufu at 8:26 pm (utc) on Oct. 29, 2007]