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Sun-Google: What's It All Mean? "Really Disruptive," Says Founder of the AJAX Office Project

"This is really disruptive for the entire computer, software industry," writes Paolo Massa

Paolo Massa (pictured), founder of the AJAX Office project, writes: A few days ago I got a phone call, it was Jason Stamper from London.  He wanted to know about my forecast: Ajax Office available in less than one year. The article ended up in Computer Business Review and then got slashdotted. Wow, I have never been slashdotted before.

But let me be clear about it: I opened a project called AjaxOffice on Sourceforge because I was thinking about writing some code (I played with Javascript and the DOM model and you can create magic and this is easy enough).

I was thinking that a community would possibly gather around the project. In the process I set up a wiki and start collecting many similar projects and useful packages (some of them are Free Software). But I received many e-mails saying that the project is just vaporware, that I just want to get credit for something that other people are doing (I suspect all of them generated from few persons but I cannot tell of course).

So let me clear about it: yes, there is no code and, since I need towrite my PhD thesis and since there are already many interesting projects, I don't plan to write any code about it in the next few months. I plan to shut down the project shortly and just leave pointers to other Free Software projects that are already ahead creating a Web Office suite (Zimbra manages e-mails and contacts by now but check the video and hold your jaw - it is Free Software). But there are other interesting projects as well, just look in the ajaxoffice wiki).

Anyway, it seems that with the "one year" forecast I have been conservative.

In fact, this post is about the joint announcement of Google and Sun yesterday. This is really disruptive for the entire computer, software industry. Don't you think that Google and Sun have already spoken with Hardware producers in order to have their system pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people? I think so. And I can already foresee the scene in a normal computer shop: the seller is going to ask: "Ok, we have chosen your computer. So, which system do you want on? The crappy Windows XP or the new shiny Sun system with bright OpenOffice and Google widgets already integrated? By the way, the Microsoft one costs 100 euros more."

Well, if you want a first idea, check the stocks: quotes of Microsoft vs Google (last 5 days) and quotes of Microsoft vs Sun (last 5 days).

And look at what Scoble keeps saying: the thick client is coming back. I understand that you have to say it but really, Scoble, do you believe your own words? Or are you secretly selling all your Microsoft stocks?

Question for you, reader: "which you would rather give up - your browser, or all the rest of your desktop apps?". First, answer. Ok, Jonathan Schwartz, Sun President, asked this very same question to the audience at a keynote and I can imagine you can predict the answers he got.

Last point of an already too long post: having an alternative in the software market will be simply great for everyone, having concurrency is always better, having a monopoly is always worst. In this way, normal people will start undestanding that there is an alternative (TIAA), i.e. Windows is not the computer. The fact that OpenOffice is in the new system is good since OpenOffice is Free Software, software that gives you freedom. I don't think that the Java Desktop code is Free Software (see licence) but I think sooner or later Sun will have to release it under GPL. [The fact that most of this new Google+Sun system will use online services, for which they don't have to release the code, is the topic of another long post].

By the way, I think this is a great opportunity for a Free Software GNU/Linux system to really become available pre-installed on normal computers sold to normal people, my forecast this time is that it will be Ubuntu. Yours?


 Licensed under a Creative Commons license.

More Stories By Paolo Massa

Paolo Massa is a PhD student at International Graduate School in Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Trento, Italy, and at ITC - Istituto per la Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (IRST).

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