You have to wonder whether Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of HTTP and the Web browser, had a sense of where it all would lead. All these years later, does anyone know? The Web is the invention that keeps on giving.
The conception of the Web browser was brilliant, but the browser was a relatively simple piece of software. All the more remarkable, then, that it's been at the heart of a series of transforming trends in computing.
Apparently, that transformation isn't over. For more than 10 years, experts have predicted the end of the dominance of operating systems, with the rise of the Internet as the primary application platform. But the pundits were early to that party; we have never been close to Microsoft's mantra, "Control the platform at the operating system," continues to be a safe strategy.
But if ever there was a beginning of the end, that moment arrived last Tuesday when Google released the first beta of its Chrome Web browser. The new product is being designed from the ground up as a next-generation client platform for enterprise applications -- the potential client engine for software-as-a-service products, cloud computing and Web 2.0 for the enterprise.
That may sound laughable right now. As intriguing as Google Docs is, for example, it offers little real competition to Microsoft Office in the enterprise. But current Web apps are little more than placeholders for what's yet to come from third-party software providers. The power and functional reach of Web apps takes on a whole new significance when underpinned by a robust browser-based app platform. Chrome's release is like a starting flag that tells software makers: "Let the development begin."
That's why Chrome is more than just a shot across the bows of enterprise platform and application providers. It's the first shot fired in a war about to be waged over platform dominance. At the same time, it's welcome support for the Web-based direction enterprise apps are taking. As such, it will have complex, profound and unpredictable effects on enterprise IT.