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Only in a bubble is Google's web WP an Office-killer

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Webbing obscures view

Joe also predicts that Microsoft will never offer a hosted version of Microsoft Office, which is how Office Live is erroneously described, so often.

Citrix, which pioneered multi-user NT, is now offering a consumer hosting service of what it does best, in the shape of GoToMyPC, which is aimed at large enterprises as well as its primary market, SMBs. If we're using hosted services in five years' time, it'll be this, or something very much like it - with a full feature set, native clients at each end, and an internet connection between them.

Of course the last people to be wise to the deficiences of web software are the web evangelists themselves. It hasn't escaped anyone else's notice that even the simplest push technology (RSS) - the most rudimentary format of all - comes in a dozen incompatible formats.

This isn't to say Google doesn't want to host your documents. And make them searchable - and ad-ready. It does. A fortnight ago Google attempted to use its Google Desktop Search software to upload the contents of your LAN to Google servers. A built-in option uploaded a text version of your files where it would be held for 30 days.

And last week a note mistakenly made public illustrated Google's intentions all too clearly - "Store 100% of User Data ... With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)".

Cheerleaders for Silicon Valley insist that today's web bubble isn't really a bubble because it's failed to persuade the public at large to part with their money in exchange for junk stocks. But that's only one definition of a bubble. A bubble is when people leave behind rational considerations, and enthusiastically make poor judgements which leave lasting consequences.

Given the inherent properties of the technology set - the network latencies, the angle-bracket incompatibilities, and the downtime, to name just three - the "web-based office" today is as practical a proposition as the Segway-based lifebelt.

Technically illiterate, and pumped up on junk science and pious New Age aphorisms - such s "collective intelligence" - today's "Web 2.0" kids promise to leave behind a legacy of disappointment.

Some bubbles exist entirely between the ears. ®

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