About 9 months ago, on my former blog I wrote a short post about what a prospective Google Operating System might be like. At that point Google had not yet started it's massive Web 2.0 rollout in full steam. In fact, the only major offerings they had, besides search, was Gmail, Maps and Blogger. But 9 months on things have changed considerably. Google has put out a number of new Web 2.0 products, including Google Calendar, Reader, Notebook, personalized Start pages, Picasa for Linux and most recently, it's Spreadsheet. Also, let's not forget that it has bought Writely, released Google Desktop and come up with video search. So where does this all leave us?
There are a number of things to consider. Firstly, Google has been getting a fair amount of falk recently for putting out too many new applications and not really concentrating on developing or improving existing ones. This is not criticism to be taken lightly, especially since there is a certain amount of truth behind it. Google Labs, currently has a number of projects that seem to be distinctly in suspended animation. Add to that the fact some ot it's newer offerings have been acutely mediocre. Google calendar falls behind other services like Kiko and 30boxes and Notebook seems like a poorly thought out cross between a del.icio.us competitor and post-it notes. Google's latest offering, Spreadsheet, came as something as a surprise, eapecially since they seem to have been sitting on their acquisition of Writely for the past few months. But as this recent blog post says, Spreadsheet may just be one of Google's better ideas for some time.
Once again I ask: what is Google up to? Yes, we all know that they want to take over the world, but the real interesting question is: how? Google seems poised to release a fully-featured web-based office suite and be able to integrate it nicely with their existing superb email system, creating a one-stop online groupware product for enterprises and businesses. In other words, everything that your average office needs to do including writing documents, keeping track of data, exchanging that data, both internally and externally can be done using a seamless system powered by Google. the next step then, would be to integrate this functionality directly into the user's computer so that the net and Google's collaboration tools become an integrated part of your desktop. This could be done by expanding Google Desktop, but a far better solution already exists: Firefox. It's already a top class browser and it probably won't take too long to integrate it tightly with Google's server backends (especially considering the incredible talent they have hanging around). As you may well imagine, this would explain Google's extensive support of Firefox development. And in the long term, there's no reason why Google should stop there when they can build there own operating system, designed from the bottom up to break down the division between your computer and the World Wide Web (not to mention Google's Web 2.0 empire).
Now I know what you're thinking: This is all very interesting, but what about Google NOW? Well, let's just say that Google doesn't exactly make it a point to make it's plans known to the public all the time. However by the end of the year we should certainly see a Google influenced version of Writely being made available (currently all signups are closed) and this would be tied in strongly with their Spreadsheet, Gmail and Calendar apps. Besides that there's not really much that can be said for certain. A Flickr or YouTube competitor may be in the offing and maybe more desktop products. But one thing's for certain; Whatever Google's plans may be,for the short term it doesn't look like they're going to let up their Web 2.0 onslaught, and as long as they give away their products for free, I think we can all just sit back and make use of some good software (and hope that the rest gets improved).
Tune in tomorrow for a look at whether Zoho Writer can beat your current desktop Word Processor.