It's funny how infrequently you hear anyone (at least around here) say that, but it was my first reaction to this post which can best be summarized with a few excerpts:

Q: What do you get when you cross a browser application with the ability to go offline?
A: A client application without any the goodness that the platform (be it Windows or OS X) has to offer.
Really? Do people really want this?


Perhaps there’s been so much blah blah blah about web 2.0, social networks, etc., or that folks have just gotten so lazy that they’ve forgotten how to write client applications. It’s sad really.

You can come at this from many points of view, really. Maybe the web is best thought of as the focus and the desktop is merely there for when the web is not. Or maybe the desktop is the focus and the web is there as an add-on (current browser technology certainly points this way). Or maybe the two should be on equal footing, as much as possible. Or...

But it occurs to me that when you consider the question in terms like I excerpted above, it make Microsoft's strategy look a little less like they need to catch up with Google.

Not entirely, but enough to remind you that there are some smart people there too...

Posted by jzawodn at April 21, 2008 12:45 PM

Reader Comments
# Eric said:

First, I disagree with the premise - an offline web application gives you the ability to use the application during the brief periods of downtime you might experience. All the other benefits of a web application are still there when you connect again.

But even granting the premise - if that's how MS feels, why don't they act like it? Why put so much time and energy into copying everything Google does? Why even try to compete on the web *at all*?

It seems it shouldn't be all that difficult to build into Word (for example) the kind of collaborative editing features that make Google Docs compelling, after all. Why isn't MS releasing a whole bunch of client side applications that driven by data in the cloud (a la Google Earth, as one example)?

Apple by contrast is a company that seems to make good on this view much more than MS. You don't see them wasting effort trying to compete in search or online video or whatnot. They're focused on the client side applications and making them as good as possible. What online offerings they do have (dotmac and the itunes store)are designed to complement, rather than replace, those offerings (and don't even involve a web browser).

I just don't see MS with any kind of similar focus on the client side experience.

on April 21, 2008 01:40 PM
# Dave B said:

It is interesting to look at the perspective of the 15-25 year olds. They expect their desktop to die, or need to be reloaded, at frequent intervals. And Microsoft has established that expectation by creating an operating system that (a) gets noticeably slower as time goes on and (b) is so vulnerable to malware.

So the expectation is that data should live online. But note the use of the word "Data". I think whether the application is online or on the web is a red-herring (assuming it is easy to reinstall an application.) What matters is where the DATA lives. Email on gmail (or yahoo ;-), spreadsheets on google docs, instant message buddy lists that are stored on the net, etc.

It is interesting to look at Macs, since no one expects to reload their Mac frequently, and (IMHO) there is less interest in online apps from the Apple community.

on April 22, 2008 05:36 AM
# Alex said:

When I first saw this I thought about offline web applications being inferior to a native desktop application, however further thoughts into it makes you consider the advantages.

The number of people using different operating systems these days is ever increasing, if you want to achieve maximum possible usage then targeting a single operating system (Windows) isn't the best idea. I'm sure that many more people are getting closer and closer to only needing web applications, many people use webmail clients, browse various websites and could quite easily rely on Google docs for simple documents.

on April 22, 2008 08:15 AM
# Dare Obasanjo said:

I agree completely with Steve Makofsky. I've been working on building a desktop client for Google Reader (progress reports at and I realized I don't really "like" the Google Reader interface. I *tolerate* it because I get the benefit of anywhere access + zero install. If I forego both benefits, then a desktop app is a much better user experience than an AJAX app if what I'm getting is a disconnected experience.

on April 22, 2008 09:25 AM
# Adi R said:


It seems that there are ample arguments for users of all ages to want our data to live anywhere any everywhere we are.

But take it a step further, and it isn't just Data that we want everywhere, we want our Applications/Wallpaper/Settings and everything around it to migrate with us. This is whether from OS to OS, PC to PC, location to location.

Right now the only way to achieve this is through Web Apps. I have my Firefox running with Google Browser Sync, letting me have same Web experience/shortcuts/cookies on all my XP, Vista and other machines.

Is it the best model? I don't believe so, frankly. Browser is a great concept, but it needs to die. The entire PC should become our "browser", keeping our data, applications, experience in-sync across all physical hardware. It needs to figure out how/where to migrate our data so that we can have it anytime/anyplace.

Of course network needs to become faster and more wide-spread, including high-speed wireless. And we need to grow over our "mine" syndrome and Standardize things. After that, prettier/cheaper/funner platform can be used. If one were to choose 'cheaper' brand, for example, the result is the same computing experience, more or less, but perhaps a bit slower, or with a smaller screen...

To summarize, mesh and cloud are the way to go, and they are coming. And the next step is to take proper advantage of those via our amazing client PC software, ahem ahem...

on April 22, 2008 03:33 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.