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Google Seeks To Bridge App Gap with NaCl

It's apparently -- chemistry majors we were not -- the symbol on the periodic table of for sodium chloride. In any case, NaCl, or Native Client, is Google's effort to bring Web applications up to the same level of performance as desktop apps. And already ink-stained (if we can still be called that in the Web era) journalists are predicting that it could someday spell doom for Microsoft. From the InformationWeek article linked above:

"NaCl, the chemical formula for sodium chloride [See, we told you. --LP], can be seen as salt in Microsoft's wounds. If Google's Native Client becomes a robust system, the performance gap between desktop and Web applications could all but vanish.

"For companies that continue to rely on revenue from desktop software, such as Microsoft and Adobe, that would further undermine the value proposition of their costly software products. That possibility has long been foreseen, however, and both Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) and Microsoft are moving their applications online in ways that make the browser less relevant."

OK, so improving performance of Web apps would go a long way toward bringing Web applications to parity with desktop apps. (We like to call it bridging the app gap.) But performance isn't the only issue SaaS, Web 2.0, cloud computing or whatever you want to call it faces. There's also the issue of uptime, the problem of ownership of applications (some companies just like to run stuff in-house) and even a few potential regulatory hurdles with HIPAA laws and the like.

We're believers in Web-based applications, SaaS and all the rest of it, but we're also not ready to declare the desktop dead yet. And with Windows Azure, Microsoft is at least acknowledging that it needs to be a player in the cloud. So we're not ready to see NaCl as salt in anybody's wound -- more like a new ingredient to spice up competition a little bit.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 10, 2008 at 11:55 AM


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