I've been speculating what would happen if my current Powerbook dies, and I'm forced to choose between ordering an old PPC architecture system and one of the first off the lines Mac Book Pro Intel systems. Even if you ignore the fact that Mac Book Pro is one of the worst cases of naming in a long series of confusing names, I'm still facing a tough choice on the surface.
Then again maybe that's not the case. As I was evaluating software today, I started thinking about software that was installed and runs as an application on my system. Even today you can compare much of it to software that is hosted and runs through a web browser.
Some hosted software is actually better software and comes with more functionality. Some even feels zippier. The user interface is very similar to what I'm accustomed to using with TypePad, the hosted blogging software that I use everyday. I also have used other hosted programs such as Flickr which I still use for posting my photos.
I believe strongly that faster connections and more intelligent programming make hosted software a strong contender for the desktop. I think the question is how this will impact both Apple and Microsoft? Will it make us less dependent on operating systems. Already there are technologies in the mail world such as IMAP that make us computer independent when it comes to mail. Why shouldn't it go one step further and let us be computer operating system independent?
I actually worked for a company whose whole business proposition is based on creating hosted software which offers a real alternative to system based software. Google's Gmail provides individuals with a real alternative to computer email client based software. Sometime in a hotel, Gmail and its webmail based interface is the only thing that I can get to work.
The improvements in web driven software are absolutely amazing. However, it is one of those areas where Apple trails badly. How long will it before other hosted software also reaches the same level of sophistication as our client email software? Not long it present trends are any indication.
In the end, if web driven software keeps getting better and better, just maybe I won't feel so tied to a specific platform. I think that's a good thing.
Of course having said all that I still don't see a hosted package that can yet beat Apple's iLife suite of tools so maybe there's still plenty of life in some desktop software categories. That will be a good thing for Apple if they can make iLife better and better, since MS doesn't seem to even understand the iLife concept.