Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The age of the web browser is coming

When did you start using a PC? In my case, I started to use computers when I was in university. At that time, it was very difficult for general users to use a computer, because we had to memorize the commands and the directory path, which an executable file is located in. Even using a mouse was optional to use PCs. However, the computing environment has changed rapidly since Windows and the Web were introduced in the 1990s. These days, even a 2 years old baby is able to use a smart device like the iPad.

Our PC usage has also changed rapidly. For example, installing softwares was always required to run them a few years ago, but these days, you may deal with most things on a web browser. If you close the browser, it may mean you are not using your PC anymore. As the Web technologies develop, the Web provides more services that we didn’t expect before. For example, we watch movies, music videos, and even TV on our browsers. In addition, we send and read emails using the web browser on any PC. Even if you use Google Docs, you can edit documents, slides, and spread sheets. Although it is missing many features such as animation effects, clip arts, etc, compared to MS Office, it is simple to use, and offers unique features such as collaborative editing in real-time. We may be living in the middle of the change from the desktop to the Web, similar to move from the text-based user interfaces like DOS to the GUIs like Mac OS and Windows.

Interestingly, there is a hidden side to this change. Actually, Microsoft has dominated the desktop through Windows and Office. However, Google has been trying to encourage people to use the Web more. Search & Ads are their main business, but they have been offering various web services such as GMail, Google Docs, Calendar, and Youtube to lure people away from the desktop. Now, nobody stops this change because even Microsoft has also adopted this trend. As Microsoft opened the desktop age instead of IBM, Google is also trying to open an era of the web desktop.

If this is true, how does Google lead the change? As you know, Google is a web service company, but they launched the Chrome browser and Chrome OS in 2009. Actually, Google has sponsored the Firefox project for a long time. But now, they are developing their own browser and operating system like Windows. Moreover, they are investing a lot of engineering resources in order to innovate the Web technology. As a result, the Web seems to work more like the desktop in terms of introducing more desktop features such as dealing with multimedia, accessing hardware like GPS and cameras, working offline, etc. However, Google can be evil if they want to be, because they are gathering all information, even your private data, so we should keep our eyes on Google not to be evil, although the informal corporate motto of Google is “Don’t be evil”[1].

You are in the middle of the switch to a new desktop environment. I expect that many people will get benefits through this change because it makes people use PCs more easily and helps people get out of the pain of maintaining their PC. Also, it would give more business opportunities to new companies and developers.

What should we do in this change? Just use the Web using the latest version of the web browser such as Firefox4 or Internet Explorer 9, which will come out this year. In addition, you need to acquaint yourself with famous web services such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Google Docs, etc. Because, if we have to follow the change, it would be better to lead it. If so, you may also have the opportunity to change your surroundings at your position through this exciting transition.


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