Computing from the Web

March 2000
by Reid Goldsborough

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What’s old is new again. In the old days of computers, you used a “dumb terminal” and rented processing time with a big mainframe computer. Today you once again can use a computer with minimal processing power and run programs that reside elsewhere. Only today, you access these programs, called Web apps, through the Internet. It works this way: Instead of installing computer applications, or programs, onto the hard disk of your computer, you log onto a Website and use apps that are installed there. You access some Web apps through your Web browser and others through a custom interface. You can print and sometimes save data to your own hard drive, but most of the bulk of the processing occurs at a distant server. The benefits are that you outsource the chore of software maintenance to others and that you can access your apps and data with any computer connected to the Internet. The drawbacks are that if you’re not connected, you’re not computing, and that even when you are connected, unless you have a fast connection, you’ll incur a sizable speed penalty. The biggest players in the software industry are getting involved, including Microsoft. Bill Gates says the reason he recently quit his post as Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer was to spend more time developing the Web versions of Microsoft’s products. (Many analysts, however, believe that another, perhaps overriding, reason was his desire to influence the US Justice Department as it weighs penalties agains…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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