This got me thinking about how much Microsoft must be worrying about how the enhancements in browsers and related technology will effect there business model.
When you think about it, most there money comes from selling operating systems and Office products. Now, browsers are becoming more and more the platform of choice to write applications on. it makes sense really.
The app will run on any device with a net connection (including phones, pda's etc), you can almost guarantee it will work, there is no need for the user to install software, updates are easy to roll out, ease of distribution, the list go's on and on.
While as it stands there aren't to many office based application that can challenge the MS office in the features category, there are certainly very capable alternatives out there, the main one being Googles offering, Google docs (http://docs.google.com/). All the documents are saved online, so you can give other people access to them and wherever you are in the World you will always have access to your data.
One of the only downfalls of online applications is when you lose your net connection. We'll Google have even come up with a way of getting round that. It's called gears ( http://gears.google.com/).
I dont personally know all that much about it, its a framework that will allow you to build web based applications that will also work of line. At the moment the only apps I have seen that use it are Google ones, but i'm sure more will be popping up.
So, are the mighty Microsoft doing anything of there own like this. Well, a bit. They have bought a stake in the social networking site Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/).
One of the cool features of Facebook is the fact that you can create applications using there framework, and post them to the community. As the Facebook community is absolutely massive (according to compete.com 14 million used applications in Facebook in August) your application will get a lot of exposure.
On the back of this Microsoft has added support via a developer kit into its Visual web Developer product (http://www.microsoft.com/express/samples/facebook/default.aspx). The thing I find funny about this is when you look at the Facebook developer documentation it's language of choice is PHP. Will this be changing to dotnet now Microsoft have got there claws into it?
So, are Microsoft trying to embrace the internet as its development platform of the future, or sticking to there so far successful business model of traditional desktop software. I'm sure we'll find out over the next few years.
And just out of interest, while we are talking about browsers, this is a breakdown of what browsers people visiting this site have been using over the last month: