Read/WriteWeb tells us that Firefox 3 will have support for offline web applications. They do the whole Google-Mozilla connection, which isn’t off the mark of course, and lists Google services such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs & Spreadsheets and so on.
If you’re in the Google OS crowd, i.e. waiting for Google to release an actual operating system (preferably online based), then this is probably music to your ears. Having all your stuff stored online is great when you’ve got a fast internet connection, but that’s not always the case. It can be down, the wireless network is malfunctioning, there’s service work being done on the online application itself â€“ the availability of online apps just doesn’t make it a 100% natural choice due to this.
What will happen if Gmail works offline, if Docs & Spreadsheets continues to evolve and becomes a serious option from Microsoft Office? Collaboration is a simple thing with Google’s online apps (although they aren’t the best choice for everything, there’s work to e done there) and if you can work offline with them as well then it’s very easy to invite other people to your projects when you need to.
All in all, offline access to web applications will give us more choices, be it Google or someone else that is delivering them. Microsoft, which of course could be a target for this kind of evolution, knows this. They’ve been working on their online services for a long time and spoke about them and how they would change the way we work years ago. Still, it’s a transition and while it might not be easy for the general public to switch from the dominant Windows platform, it might be a lot easier to go in another direction when it comes to on/offline web apps. That direction might or might not be one dictated by Google or Microsoft or someone else, but rest assured it should be possible for companies to pick the one that truly fits, instead of what they need to be using because of the OS dominance of Windows versions today.