While we currently still need mainline operating systems, I am not sure we need their expensive upgrades.
Twenty two months ago I wrote a post, "How much longer will operating systems really matter, even to Apple?
Since I wrote that post, all the evidence seems to point to an accelerating trend of innovation being drawn to the web. However, that does not mean that every web based program is innovative.
While I think the user interface and conversation mode that Google pioneered with their gmail is very innovative, I have seen plenty of web based email programs show little innovation.
Just because you take a program to the web does not mean if will be innovative.
However, if you figure out a way to make it solve a business problem in a new way, it becomes innovative. Calendaring is a place where innovation is finally taking root after many false starts.
There are still proprietary calendaring systems that have recently been introduced that cannot be shared with someone on a different email system. They are pretty worthless, and a long way from being innovative.
While Apple's iCal program was innovative when it came out a few years ago, most people correctly tagged it as something less than serious when it came to business calendars.
Even Apple agreed since they used Meeting Maker as their corporate calendar program. Still iCal introduced us to the ics calendar format which could be exchanged between calendars. It was the catalyst to get calendars moving. RSS feeds also helped.
The Google calendar program that comes with Google Apps will let you subscribe to your Google Calendar from Apple's iCal or from the calendaring program that comes with Vista. I can even subscribe to tide tables using the ics standard.
I eventually decided that I needed to go to Outlook for my mail since the email provider that I use seems to have some challenges with Thunderbird. Naturally once on Outlook, I wanted to use the Outlook Calendar, but how could I sync with my Google calendar? I found this really neat program called gSyncit.
I tried it, and it really works well. While I was trying it, I happened to run across another program, TimeBridge, which solves scheduling meetings with people on wildly different email systems and even different time zones.
Scheduling meetings has been a perplexing business problem for years.
Now I have all my contacts in Gmail where I also can enter events into my calendar no matter what computer I use. I also have my contacts in Outlook along with a calendar that is synchronized with my Gmail one. Even my Macs pick up the calendar.
TimeBridge lets me propose meetings while it shows me what is in my Gmail calendar. People respond back by email and the meetings get scheduled.
I just did my first TimeBridge meeting yesterday. I wish I had access to TimeBridge back in the days when I was scheduling executives and government leaders. It would have saved countless agony.
My Gmail calendar is even smart enough to send me a SMS or text message through my cell phone to remind me of meetings.
I have also found that the Gmail conversation mode in their webmail works really well with friends. It's a great way for friends to talk.
Now I have segregated my business email to Outlook using IMAP while my personal email uses Gmail on a domain of my choice that Google manages.
It is a great system with a tremendous about of productivity built-in and guess what? The productivity has little or nothing to do with an operating system.
I have a feeling this will be the way of the future and perhaps eventually help us break out of our paper handcuffs.
We are headed to the web, it is just a matter of time and connectivity.