With all the hullabaloo over Web 2.0, it's easy to forget that the classic PC software needs a few innovations, too.
Not that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) aren't trying. They are. But today's Microsoft Word isn't much different than the version I used a decade ago to hunt and peck my way through client reports.
Of course, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and others get credit for building software that I can access via the Web with a browser. The programs may not be as rich as the so-called client applications -- PCs are sometimes referred to as "clients" by techie geeks like me -- but they're pretty simple to access and use. If, that is, you have a Web connection. Stuck on a plane for a few hours? Tough break, pal.
Or is it? Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE ) just introduced Apollo, a toolset that will allow code jockeys to create software that senses when a network is present. That way, users can work offline whenever they need to and still cull data from the Web automatically when they're connected.
What's more, like Sun Microsystems' (Nasdaq: SUNW ) Java programming language, Adobe says that Apollo-driven software will be usable on most computing platforms.
It's way too early to call Apollo a major breakthrough -- first-run innovations rarely catch on quickly, if at all. Yet I suspect Adobe has a winner, if only because despite years of Google and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) evangelizing the browser, we netizens refuse to let go of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the rest.
So, instead of trying yet another browser, Adobe is seeking to make the PCs we know and tolerate do more. Call it Desktop 2.0. Or, better yet, call it smart.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers couldn't work without the Web. He expects most computer software will feel similarly within 12 to 18 months. If it could feel, that is. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Yahoo! is a Stock Advisor pick. Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy will sacrifice a good desktop for a comfy chair.