Michael Robertson’s latest shtick is ajaxWrite. Michael is yet another ex- Don Norman / UCSD student, and is well known as the founder of MP3.com, Lindows -> Linspire, and various other cool projects.
Here’s what he says in answer to the above question (on the ajaxWrite FAQ page):
We believe that the software industry is standing on the verge of a very large shift, where almost all software products become an online service; users will no longer have to buy CDs in a cardboard box at the store, and then suffer through a lengthy install process. It costs very little to distribute software via the internet, therefore the software cost model will change and make it possible for products like ajaxWrite to be free. There may be a charge in the future for additional functionality or storage, but the core software will remain free.
But is it any good? [note: rest of this entry was written IN ajaxWrite]
The only way to find out if it’s any good is to hammer it for a bit, which is just what I’m doing now (I’ll copy and paste what I write hereafter in ajaxwrite into this blog posting).
It is going to be interesting to see how this pans out… I never accepted the first ‘thin client’ vision of the 90’s… because
* it was psychologically implausible (we like to ‘own our own computing space’ – kinda like the way we like to own our own cars, even though we know deep down that public transport is a good thing)
* there were simply too many unknowns concerning the reliability of server performance
* the look and feel tended to be pretty feeble compared to The Real Thing (same reason I gave up on StarOffice/OpenOffice – they were ‘OK’ but incredibly frustrating when you wanted the real thing).
This looks and feels decent enough, and is more or less interoperatble with most Word functionality, as they explain on their site.
This means it’ll be a straight tradeoff between the Psychology (wanting to own our own engines) and the Cost (real ownership is pricey). Very interesting. Well, Michael is a cognitive pscyhologist by upbringing, so maybe he’s on to something. I’ve always rooted for him anyway, so this will be interesting to follow. The acid test is whether I personally start using it for everyday tasks… I guess ‘it all depends’. Since I inhabit a Very Large Enterprise work space, it’s easy to accept the whole Office package, and it does a lot of great stuff that I like. At the same time, my colleagues and I instinctively don’t accept the ‘lock-in’ and therefore are interested in alternatives.
Strange that I don’t like being ‘tied’ to an Internet-savvy app to ‘do my thing’, despite being connected to the net all the time anyway… “Go Figure!”… I guess this is really all about ‘culture of use’, and it’s going to be a fantastic Culture War unfolding!