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Google Gears up for offline web apps

Steps on Microsoft's toes...again

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Google has poked its fingers into the offline web application pie with today's launch of browser add-on Gears.

The search engine behemoth marked out clear intentions to enter territory dominated by Microsoft by offering free, open source technology that works without an internet connection.

Gears will run online and offline, allowing users to access data normally only available when plugged into the web.

Google already offers its own web-based docs and spreadsheets product to its users and said it plans to introduce programs including email, calendars, and word processing to its millions of users via the off-line browser extension software.

Google said it is keen to build "next generation web applications" and hopes to work closely with developers in the open source community to drum up new ways and means of delivering software to its users.

The firm said a Javascript API library is now available via its web toolkit facility which will support the new add-on so developers can start exploring offline capabilities with Gears.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "With 'Google Gears' we are tackling a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications, and enabling a better user experience.

"We believe strongly in the power of the community to stretch this new technology to the limits of what's possible, and ultimately emerge with an open standard that benefits everyone."

According to various reports, Adobe Systems supports the new technology and is already developing its own version. Browser makers Mozilla and Opera were also said to be keen to get involved with Gears.

The announcement coincided with Google Developer Day, which is taking place today at 10 cities around the world including Moscow, London, and Beijing where a whole range of Google products are being trumpeted by the firm.

You can play around with the beta software which is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux users here. ®

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