Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Evolving Web Apps

Web applications have a distinct advantage over their desktop counterparts. Namely, the ability to unnoticeably evolve and grow much more seamlessly. Unlike desktop applications like MS Word or Mozilla's Firefox, web apps can have features added from day to the next, without your knowledge of these changes. Their developers can add a functionality or graphical improvement on the fly, and you can experience that change the next time you visit that website.

In the case of Google Maps, these improvements are a welcome addition. For example, today, I casually looked up some directions by querying my location and destination. When I attempted to refine my view by zooming in, I was pleasantly surprised by a more fluid animation. This was a new feature or at least a refine improvement. Did I have to download an update to the software? Did I need to restart my web browser, or god forbid, restart my computer? No. The update occurred behind the scenes at Google somewhere. And that's the beauty of the web environment.

Imagine, sometime in the not-too-distant future... Instead of those naggingly annoying Windows Update prompts, begging you to restart your computer, the whole thing will be web-driven. An entire OS maintained on the server-side. True, some future, insanely powerful web browser would need to run the OS, but any security update, code improvement, or added feature would infuse itself automatically. The need to restart due to a newly installed software component would be a thing of the past.

Granted this centralization of our OS might pose unforeseen security problems. However, new security holes undoubtedly arise whenever something new takes hold. The OS serving company better be damn secure is all.

One day, an update might only require a push of the F5 key and a refresh of the bits on your screen.

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