Linked by David Adams on Wed 16th Mar 2005 17:51 UTC
Editorial A c|net editorial posits that Google may be well on its way to developing a complete suite of internet-based services that could act as a computing environment for any thin client that's capable of accessing it. And Microsoft may be planning a similar move.
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Futile.
by Kit on Wed 16th Mar 2005 17:58 UTC

We've been there before. It didn't make sense then, and it still doesn't make sense. Would you ever trust a Google, or MS with all of your documents, configuration, etc. No thanks...I like my processor and data where it is.

Hooray!
by Ulrich Hobelmann on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:03 UTC

So even though our computers will keep getting faster, this energy isn't used to power a great OS (well, on my Mac it is), but to render a web interface.

And instead of a powerful PC every user will use the online service with advertising and high latency times? That's a brave new world indeed.

There's always thumb drives
by David Adams on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:06 UTC

You can always keep originals or copies of all your personal files on an inexpensive X GB thumb drive. For power computer users this probably has little allure, I understand, but for the throngs of casual users who should probably not be trusted with the care and feeding of a full-blown PC (like my parents) this could be cool and useful. This would also be great for road warriors who could access their stuff without having to lug a heavy, expensive laptop.

I hope they have VRML interface.
by d on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:10 UTC

Man I hope they have a VRML interface. I can't wait to check it out on my LCD glasses headset... or other obsolete-before-it-began-technology.

surprised???
by Nex6 on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:10 UTC

I don't think, people really understand. whats happening here.

i saw some of the same kind of comments on slashdot. these comments make no sense.

your computer, is not going anywhere,

google, microsoft and others are/will develop the'next gen' of web services like "gmail"

gmail is the best webmail i have used(my opinion)


and google is going to build on that. that is all, things like:

(IM, calendering, basic word processing, photos, etc)

it will be your choice weather to use some or all of the services. and you will always have your PC/laptop

-Nex6

Thin Clients & networked apps
by Cheapskate on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:17 UTC

this idea is plausable and practicle in a large office with a LAN, but on the internet could be a mess & could be a security nightmare no matter what OS is used, a LAN can be secured but the internet is just a big bad neighborhood with no sence of law & order, i tend to agree with the luddites when it comes to utilizing this on a WAN AKA Internet...

@surprised???
by emacs on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:19 UTC

That's a good top-down approach.
Contrast your words with MS's recent acquisition of Groove, and note the bottom-up collision.
Should be a good cage match.

I For One...
by DoctorPepper on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:19 UTC

... Welcome our Google overlor..

Oops! Wrong forum!! ;-)

Re: Surprised?
by Jack on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:22 UTC

Actually this is not such a bad idea. Thin clients would be ideal for developing countries, and Joanna six pack. Having a 3000 MHz computer for web surfing, web mail, and creating documents is alittle overkill.

Plus having all your user setting in a centralized location would make an average users life alot more pleasent. Just picture it now having your home directory on some web server and being able to power your home terminal off walking into work powering up and blam your home directory accesible from any computer at work/home/cofee shop.

The PC would still have a place, for instance programmers and student's who want a dedicated machine.

But anyways this all still speculation. It is some what conceivable if Google offered free clients with a year subscription, or something along those lines.

Deja vu
by Andrew on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:25 UTC

It sounds like another rehash of Sun's "the network is the computer". By the way, why is it that Google tries to do everything at the same time ? I guess their next move will be the Google Global e-Bank.

Might not be horriable
by DFergATL on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:30 UTC

It might not (or might) be as bad as eveyone here says. I work support for a compay that has a web based product ( POS system and it not a small thing either). A great deal of the interface and local data actually sits on the users computer. So, it really isn't all that slow. It really depends on how they design it.

Just my 2 cents, nothing more.

IBM's Thomas Watson was right
by Dalius on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:39 UTC

World market needs only 5 computers (well those computers looks more like network of computers but it does not change sense)

Speaking of Thin Clients
by DoctorPepper on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:47 UTC

Do any of the folks on this forum have any experience using Linux thin clients? I have been giving a lot of thought to replacing all of the computers at my house with a nice server (dual-proc, 2 GB RAM, one or two large hard drives) and just using thin clients to access them. I know this sounds somewhat far-fetched for a home user, but I've come to determine that I don't really need a separate PC for each of us (plus a couple dispersed around the house). I was thinking thin client mainly because of the small form-factor and the lower power usage (assume an LCD display on each one).

Linux (Debian and Slackware) is my favorite OS, and I find it fulfills all of my computing needs. I'm not into gaming, so wouldn't need an uber-fast desktop.

sounds familiar
by junior on Wed 16th Mar 2005 18:54 UTC

wasn't this the same idea that caused MS to target Netscape.. i.e. forget the OS, and use a browser? (google's funding of firefox seems to fit into this)

just curious, not 100% sure

Is the Web the Future?
by . on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:00 UTC

I am beginning to appreciate web applications and I think the future of computing will become predominantly web based. As opposed to rich client applications, web based applications are platform neutral, have a consistent interface (i.e your browser), consume less resources and aren't plagued by feature bloat.

In my opinion, the more that can be pushed to the web, the better. At least, nobody needs a 2GHz CPU with 1 Gigabyte of RAM running Windows 2003 to use most web applications. Frankly, I prefer web applications, like Gmail, to rich client applications like Evolution, which seems to be getting slower and resource intensive with every release.

And whenever I can, I find myself opting for web technology as opposed to installing cruft on my machine. I also notice web application designers and developers pay more attention to user interface, usability, accessibility and aesthetics than do rich client programmers. But I digress.

Google in 25 years...
by love google on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:03 UTC

will this be their logo?

http://tinyurl.com/64rac

Just wishful thinking...
by Jeremy on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:05 UTC

I think the writer of the article is getting ahead of herself a little bit. Certainly her ideas aren't revolutionary at this point in time. A number of companies from Microsoft to Netscape to Sun to Oracle have been waxing poetic about thin client machines accessing centralized web applications across the Internet for years. None have managed to produce anything usable.

A lot of companies are producing some really great Ajax based webapps these days, but I don't see them replacing my desktop applications anytime soon. As good of a webmail system as Gmail is, it still doesn't touch Thunderbird in a lot of ways. I think that what we'll see more of are desktop applications that connect to web services and make good use of XML-based technologies to send data back and forth, all of which will be stored in database back ends. In this way, applications can be developed using native interfaces and toolkits for the platform they are running on. Platforms can be anything from operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac) to runtimes (.NET, Java). The best example I can think of is the way social websites like del.icio.us and Flickr are using RSS to make it easy for people to spread information to others quickly.

To address a specific example that was brought up, I know that Quicken and MS Money will allow you to sync your checkbook with their web services (Quicken.com and MSN Money) so that you can view your finances online and add new transactions from the website. Transactions are syncronized between your financial institution, your finance software, and their web service using OFX, which is an XML-based file format that financial institutions use to talk with Quicken and Money.

Anyway, to sum up my thoughts: Web based applications aren't the future, web services are.

Not that bad
by Yamin on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:13 UTC

Well its not that bad an idea. I've already pretty much dumped any local email clients in favour of the webbased gmail and hotmail.

I think I could definitely see more stuff moving online...but I think it will definitely be how they develop it. I personally would love all my user info to be stored online (securely of course ;) ), with the exception of important data like passwords, accout numbers...

The software itself could run much like java applets do today. Where you download the applet on your computer (possible cache it), and then run it with the security permissions you want. Should work just the same for MS .NET applications...

The hardest part will be managing security properly. I would definitely want my web word processor to be able to edit my files...but not some new program I'm testing out.
Also hopefully the apps still work offline like if the net goes down, or your on your laptop somewhere...

All to be seen.

It's already here
by Dave on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:16 UTC

It may not be an "os" but web deployed apps are here. I did my taxes this year with quicktax online. It only cost me $15CAD, not the $30 the pc version costs. I use webmail all the time.
I use msn's web based messenger sometimes. I even play web games(flash/java).

These products aren't scary just easy. And no install needed.

Sun?
by Bascule on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:17 UTC

Sounds a lot like Sun's plans for the Sunray... offer a thin client for a monthly fee and handle all system administration tasks on a central Sunray cluster, letting those who don't want to deal with the complexities of computers access the Internet simply and easily

Hell, I'd sign up! (maybe)
by Eric on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:30 UTC

As long as my data is encrypted as it sits on their remote server (similar to my HushMail.com account), the connection is secure from a VPN, and the logon requires smart cards or finger prints or something, I'd love to toss out my room full of computers.

You could always have your thin client keep a database of the checksums of all your remote files to ensure that they haven't been tampered with in between sessions.

Just imagine only having to purchase a device similar to a Sun Ray thin client and a couple of monitors to plug into it. Just imagine the world-wide energy and material savings alone!

Just as long as the market has more than two or three choices of computers networks to subscribe to, people would be comfortable with it. I wouldn't trust my data to a huge monopoly, but I'd be comfortable as long as I had the freedom to switch from one provider to another if I had problems.

Just remember people, this computer stuff is still brand new. Who knows what will be happening 50, 100, or 200 years into the future.

And the pendulum swings back
by mark on Wed 16th Mar 2005 19:47 UTC

I remember using thin clients for general computing years back, then everyone got their own complete desktop, now thin clients are being talked about again.

Seems to tie in with development of microprocessors.
Huge leaps and bounds in microproccesors brought us away from thin clients, microprocessor development seems to have levelled off, so thin clients are being discussed again.

One advantage of thin clients I can readily point out is that individual service calls for virus and spyware problems will probably drop to nil when a true Bofh is running the show.

microsofts
by drift on Wed 16th Mar 2005 20:01 UTC

...and "any thin-client" for microsoft means: a windows based thin-client. i think i'll stick with google.

MULTICS
by Abbie Gonzalez on Wed 16th Mar 2005 21:48 UTC

Ahhh! Its MULTICS again!
MULTICS!!!!!
Actually, it is a nice idea.
Lets hope that this one is not vaporware ;)

good idea for computer idiots.
by attila on Wed 16th Mar 2005 22:32 UTC

"You can always keep originals or copies of all your personal files on an inexpensive X GB thumb drive. For power computer users this probably has little allure, I understand, but for the throngs of casual users who should probably not be trusted with the care and feeding of a full-blown PC (like my parents) this could be cool and useful. This would also be great for road warriors who could access their stuff without having to lug a heavy, expensive laptop."

good idea for my dad.

google is doing the right thing; thin client is the future
by Bedros on Wed 16th Mar 2005 22:45 UTC

Netscape and Java was going in that direction, and MS kill Netscape and currupted java (remember J++) fearing that people will write applications for java JVM (OS) instead of Microsoft OS.

Its still a long way to go, but they're on the right direction , they got the bright people and the money they need. Why not!

Web apps
by Bryant on Wed 16th Mar 2005 22:49 UTC

aren't a bad thing, the problem is that the browser (as it stands now) sucks as an interface - no matter how much black magic google can tweak out of javascript

Come on...
by Joe User on Wed 16th Mar 2005 23:39 UTC

This has been discussed many times...
Google for "goos"...

Not for another xx years
by Mike on Wed 16th Mar 2005 23:40 UTC

Everyone is rambling about GMail and some sort of smart desktop search tool. Since when does that make an OS. Do you really believe you will be using Word/OpenOffice purely as a webapp anytime soon? And does google have a media player, do they have some kind of agenda-software, a wordprocessor? Yes, the search engine does have a calculator, but I'd rather use my local calculator. Hmm, and doing my personal accountancy on the web? No way!

It's all so far fetched if you ask me, and it doesn't make sense. Linux, Windows, Solaris, OSX, all very big local operating systems. We're not going to see this Google OS before 2012 or any other distributed network based OS, if ever.

What they would like to happen...
by bxb32001 on Thu 17th Mar 2005 04:24 UTC

... no doubt. Now let's not go around prescribing what's overkill or not for the Joe and Joanna Sixpacks of the world. Their money, their choice. I mean, if I was selling Porches and Ferraris I wouldn't be going around telling my customers that the car would be "overkill" for them wouldn't I?

RE: Google the OS?
by garoo on Thu 17th Mar 2005 05:45 UTC

Will for SURE be Linux. I just can't see a company that has the motto of "Don't be evil" as doing anything proprietary or exclusive. How to commoditize the web? Kill the $$$ flow from the OS! Get people hooked on your interface, then roll out a nice distro of your own.

Hell, they could even use XPde and bring all those WinXP users!

I think the idea of massive storage for your email just gives them the opportunity to do a local disk version of google mail; sort of like Outlook can access Hotmail, except on steroids.

The reason I don't see my apps running across the web?

Bandwidth. As programs grow in size, it's the CONTENT that people want and pay for. Bittorrent. Emule. Napster. iTunes. Who wants to pay to load their damned thin client across broadband?

What's that you say? Why would you have to pay? Most broadband providers are starting to cap their services, with the increase in downloads and the switch to VOIP. Nobody wants to piggy-back other company services on their infrastructure! Google doing so would be just as bad.

Nope. No desktop-through-the-web interface. G-Linux. G-Nix. Ganux. Goonix. Whatever. It's gonna be big, it's gonna be powerful, and it's gonna be FREE (as in beer and as in speech!!!)

Now, if Google is smart, they'll get some HUGE game dev houses to port their stuff over to GL-accellerated playability... say 20 of the next biggest titles this year.... and voila. Windows is dead. Long live (x)Windows.

My 2 cents.

RE: Google the OS?
by garoo on Thu 17th Mar 2005 05:47 UTC

Will for SURE be Linux. I just can't see a company that has the motto of "Don't be evil" as doing anything proprietary or exclusive. How to commoditize the web? Kill the $$$ flow from the OS! Get people hooked on your interface, then roll out a nice distro of your own.

Hell, they could even use XPde and bring all those WinXP users!

I think the idea of massive storage for your email just gives them the opportunity to do a local disk version of google mail; sort of like Outlook can access Hotmail, except on steroids.

The reason I don't see my apps running across the web?

Bandwidth. As programs grow in size, it's the CONTENT that people want and pay for. Bittorrent. Emule. Napster. iTunes. Who wants to pay to load their damned thin client across broadband?

What's that you say? Why would you have to pay? Most broadband providers are starting to cap their services, with the increase in downloads and the switch to VOIP. Nobody wants to piggy-back other company services on their infrastructure! Google doing so would be just as bad.

Nope. No desktop-through-the-web interface. G-Linux. G-Nix. Ganux. Goonix. Whatever. It's gonna be big, it's gonna be powerful, and it's gonna be FREE (as in beer and as in speech!!!)

Now, if Google is smart, they'll get some HUGE game dev houses to port their stuff over to GL-accellerated playability... say 20 of the next biggest titles this year.... and voila. Windows is dead. Long live (x)Windows.

My 2 cents.

Better Off..
by theARE on Thu 17th Mar 2005 09:32 UTC

I think Google would be better off in developing their own full featured Desktop Enviroment, that can sit on top of windows or *nix. Sure a lot of people will say that linux has enough DE's etc, but there isn't really that much choice in the Windows world. If Google developed and pushed a tightly web integrated, envelope pushing, platform independant DE then they would have something really interesting on their hands.

Hello? Latency!
by Bryhan on Thu 17th Mar 2005 12:21 UTC

Umm. Web services may be well and good for those who have a cable modem or better. The reference to "developing countries" ignores this fact.

Consider using all these wonderful services with a thin client at 2400 baud (or slower). That's not just a new paradigm, that's simply insane.

Yummie!
by Peter on Thu 17th Mar 2005 14:09 UTC

No more computer maintenance for me!!!

It could work, BUT...
by Eboy on Thu 17th Mar 2005 15:46 UTC

IMHO - Web apps ARE great...until the application server is unable to handle the load or unavailable. But that isn't the real issue. This may go down like the paperless office...no paper except for all the "backup copies" and situations where paperless is "too complicated". In other words, user resistance will probably be the biggest hurdle. It will only take ONE unpleasant web application accessibility issue for a user to install Word or OO as "backup". Then, at that point, why not use the "backup" all the time? If the web application is going to succeed, it better be head and shoulders above anything else I can install myself in terms of features and performance.

browsers suck at it!
by Morin on Thu 17th Mar 2005 15:46 UTC

Problem #1:
> Web applications aren't a bad thing, the problem is that the
> browser (as it stands now) sucks as an interface - no matter
> how much black magic google can tweak out of javascript

Exactly. The browser was invented to view (stateless) HTML pages. It's simply not suited for (stateful) web applications. Just think about how much confusion you can produce simply by hitting the "back" button when you've just completed some transaction in the web application.

That annoying question "would you like to re-transmit POST data" just shows how much it sucks. I don't care what is transmitted, dammit, I want the thing to work! Fact is that navigation elements such as the back button should be part of the web application, not of the client. This is a major difference to the traditional HTML web where basic navigation elements should be part of the client (and only links be part of the document).

Problem #2:
> Consider using all these wonderful services with a thin
> client at 2400 baud (or slower). That's not just a new
> paradigm, that's simply insane.

In most web applications, there's extreme redundancy in the transmitted data. Mostly between different pages, but even within one page. Add to that the amount of useless eye candy and ads, and you know why it won't work with 2400 baud.

Ads and eye candy can be ommitted, but to eliminate redundancy completely one needs again a more powerful client than a WWW browser.