March 17, 2005 4:00 AM PST
Will Ajax help Google clean up?
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Start-ups and industry giants such as Microsoft continue to devise newfangled systems for delivering desktop-like applications over the Web. But search giant Google has taken a different path, using older technology to build its newest applications such as Google Maps and Gmail.
Google's popular map and e-mail sites have reignited interest in old-hat technologies that have been kicking around on the Web since the 1990s.
If technology that works in the current generation of Web browsers is indeed good enough for powerful, scalable Web-based applications, it could be a potential threat to Microsoft, Flash and Java.
"Suddenly you've got a company like Google that has shown to a mass audience that rich Internet applications have a tremendous benefit to the end user," said David Temkin, chief technology officer of Laszlo Systems, a start-up whose Web application system underlies EarthLink's new e-mail Web site. "The difference between Google Maps and any other map site is not subtle--it's almost a different product category. And the same is true of Gmail."
The interest isn't driven by some dot-com nostalgia. Proponents argue that these older technologies are good enough to do the job and that support for them is already embedded in common Web browsers.
If technology that works in the current generation of Web browsers is indeed good enough for powerful, scalable Web-based applications, that could result in reduced demand for everything from Laszlo Systems' tools, Macromedia's Flash and Flex-based offerings, Sun Microsystems' Java-based applications, and for Microsoft's planned
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