Microsoft has had a definite advantage in being a virtual monopoly in the PC market. In the past few years Google has been trying to grab this enviable market share enjoyed by Microsoft by releasing web applications which have similar features of popular Microsoft software products. Thus you have Google spreadsheet as a potential replacement for MS Excel, Gmail, Google Docs as a replacement for MS Word and so on. But till now Google applications lacked a fundamental feature which was that none of the Google products could be used while you are offline. In other words, you needed an Internet connection to use any of the Google offering except Google Desktop search.
Now this is bound to change for once and all and you can look forward to Google storming one of the bastions of Microsoft which is the PC Desktop. Google has just released what they have named as Google Gears. Simply put, Google gears is a web browser extension which makes it possible to make web applications run while you are offline.
Google Gears provides three key features which are :
- A database, to store and access data from within the browser.
- A worker thread pool, to make web applications more responsive by performing expensive operations in the background.
Google has released Google Gears as a open source product which means, interested webmasters can use the API to develop their own web applications which work offline. You can go through a Google gears tutorial as well as access some sample applications to whet your appetite.
But what I find most enticing is the fact that Google has simultaneously released the web extension for Linux too along with that for Windows and Mac OSX. If you are interested in say, writing an email in your Gmail account while offline and then connecting to internet just to send the mail, then you can download and try out Google Gears.