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Tuesday, November 8, 2005

All my excitement about AJAX



An excerpt from a mail I sent out to some colleagues:

"Fuelled by revolutionary apps like google gmail, suggest etc.
Microsoft is investing their own millions in AJAX enabling their web
apps (including Hotmail)
(stands for Async. Javascript + XML)

http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php

I personally think this is exactly what we need as a step fwd in
making internet based apps as powerful as desktop apps.

simple summary: AJAX allows the pages rendered by a webbrowser to 'asynchronously' interact with the user - makes a world of difference. You can get real time updates for any server side event, just like a desktop app does.

Now imagine this: (okay, many people have imagined this before, just that before AJAX came around, I was not convinced)

Assume that the Internet is all-pervasive and that broadband speeds are not an issue. How important then, is what is located on your desktop ? Besides private files, assuming that speed is not an issue, do you really care, if security is addressed appropriately ?

Once you assume that the Internet becomes the host for your 'Operating' System - the entire concept becomes virtual. You don't need XP, you don't need Linux. You only need a 'UI' that looks like something you know (as an example, no one really bothers if a back end webserver is an IIS or an Apache)."




F
ollowing that, here is an argument I was having with a Microsoft Product Manager who though the MS desktop model was a stranglehold no one can ever break ('ever' is such a long time)


He said: (About the microsoft desktop model)


"I think it'll be hard to find another model that offers such phenomenal returns. If you come across a company with a more profitable model, lemme
know...."

I responded:

"That is assuming the current thinking that desktops are the only solution.I'd like to think about why zero-footprint machines, based on the internet failed in the past (Sun did it, so did Oracle, if I recall correctly) --> it was all about the lack of last mile broadband. Then there were remote solutions like Go2MyPC etc. which were half baked, but all limited by accessibility.

Assume now that the Internet is all-pervasive and that broadband speeds are not an issue. How important then, is what is located on your desktop ? Besides private files, assuming that speed is not an issue, do you really care, if security is addressed appropriately ?

Once you assume that the Internet becomes the host for your 'Operating' System - the entire concept becomes virtual. You don't need XP, you don't need Linux. You only need a 'UI' that looks like something you know (as an example, no one really bothers if a back end
webserver is an IIS or an Apache).

So while working out-in (from the internet-to your desktop) may look far fetched now, till (and if) it becomes a success, MS obviously has a great model. They lock in OSes with computers (only recently has Dell announced an Open PC - but that is more expensive than an XP loaded image - imagine the distribution channel power MS has).

My take, therefore, is that I agree with your premise that it is hard to beat MSs model, assuming the desktop model (MS' other businesses pale in comparison to their XP/productivity suite revenues). But if you take that premise away, its a different world. If you are now taking 'local software away' and assuming that every PC/tablet/PDA/phone in the world can be serviced by a 'virtual operating system' and 'virtual applications', your addressable market increased manifold. Of course, your competition increases manifold -
and that is where smart business will kick in."

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