I have a new thought on the whole Google OS meme. Basically, we should move on – in many ways, it’s already happened. Recall Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information and make it accessible? Well, that’s pretty much the same mission as Microsoft had for the PC, when you think about it. The big difference was that to execute on its mission, MSFT had to build the OS. But Google just has to leverage the web. In other words, Google’s mission requires a Web OS (I know some of you hate that phrase, but it works for me), whether they build it or not. It’s a platform that must exist if their services are going to be useful.
And, ideally, that platform is responsive, which means fast. So, what to do when broadband feels less than speedy? Why, leverage your massive infrastructure and nifty algorithms to speed it up, of course. Hence the Google Web Accelerator, launched today. Once again, we Mac folks are left out, but if you’re on Windows, you’re in luck. SEW has a nice overview, from it:
GWA works to speed up the surfing process for all web sites NOT only Google by a combination of:
+ Prefetching material
In part, determined by an algorithm developed at Google that looks at
mouse movements and aggregate traffic to sites to try to determine what to prefetch
+ Caching of pages on Google’s own servers
They will also try to determine how frequently material is updated and continuously have the latest copy available on their servers. Mayer said that GWA and Google’s new search history product are completely independent of one another.
+ Parallel downloading
Download multiple parts of the page (images for example) at the same
+ Differential fetching
Instead of downloading the entire page, GWA will try send only what
might have changed on the page
Mayer added however that GWA tries not to change the quality of images and other material
This is a cool idea – speed up the web by leveraging your own platform, which was, of course, built by search. When you download and use GWA, you don’t have to create a Google account – which I find odd, honestly, as this is a perfect excuse to tie customers more closely to Google. However, you do start to run all your web surfing habits over Google’s servers, and that, of course, makes Google something of a proxy ISP, with access to all the aggregate data that an ISP like AOL or Comcast has on you. Is that a good thing? Well, yes and no. But net net, it has implications down the road. Very soon, Google will know an awful lot about the world’s surfing habits, well beyond search. Hmmm.
Update: Over at 37 Signals, signs that the GWA ain’t such a nice net citizen.