For all the benefits of cloud computing otherwise known as ASP-based service, on-demand, hosted and software as a service or SaaS there is a major drawback. Some applications are needed on the go… And the cloud doesn’t follow you everywhere you go.
To solve this problem, Google came up with a program called Google Gears some time back with the goal being to allow programs that are hosted to function when there is no Internet connection.
One of the applications to first take advantage of this software program was the Google Reader, a software package which downloads RSS feeds from various sources and presents them in a single, plain user interface.
It is obvious that the program that really needs Gears is Google Docs. After all, when you are on a plane and you want to see that document that is on the network, you are just out of luck.
So the good news is that today — and this is no April Fool’s Joke, Google Gears will work with Google Docs allowing you some of the functionality of Microsoft Office.
At the moment, spreadsheets and presentations are not accessible offline but Docs, Calendar and Gmail are.
Personally, I have not been a fan of Google Docs but many people are and those who were waiting for the service to have better offline functionality, will likely adopt this hosted service in exchange for their Microsoft licenses.
Is this a death blow to Microsoft Office? Not really, but as the software gets better, it is only a matter of time before Google Docs with Google Gears starts to take a bigger share of the market.