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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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.