You never really realize how dependent you are on the Internet until it goes down for an extended period of time. In my case, I’m referring to the 4 hours I was without access yesterday. Of course, there were many items on my to-do list that could be accomplished without the Internet, but I instantly began to focus on the tasks that needed it. Luckily, I still rely on many off-line applications for my email, documents, and the like; so I wasn’t completely at a standstill. I continued my work knowing that my Internet based actions would get done as soon as my connection was back.
What pauses me to think is the growing trend towards web-based office applications. The benefits are great, but I just don’t think the mass market is ready for this dependence on the web. Today was a perfect example. For many of us, Internet access often appears ubiquitous. We never think about it until we don’t have access or when our wifi connection is on the fritz. If I wasn’t using a desktop based email and office suite of applications, I would have been completely grounded.
I think the realization of a web-based operating system will come, but we’re not there yet with the current infrastructure in place. So, again I greet the latest speculation regarding Google with a healthy dose of skepticism. Apparently some screenshots have increased discussion of an upcoming presentation product for Google to add to their expanding suite. If there was any doubt Google is moving towards an entire web-based operating system, even rumors of this presentation product should quell them.
Trends show us moving in the direction of full web-based office suites being desktop replacements for some workers. Zoho is doing a great job of this right now and I’d consider them the leader for a fully integrated suite of business applications.
When Internet access is a stable as other utilities like water and electricity, then we can completely rely on a web-based operating system for business needs. Otherwise, these applications are great for sharing and collaboration, but not full reliance. Right now I prefer apps that integrate closely with the Internet, yet are still functional without it.