googlegearslogo.jpgGoogle Gears, a technology created by Google to allow developers to create offline Web applications, was released today.

Google Gears comes as a browser extension.

It is a very significant move, because most applications until now have worked either entirely online, or entirely on your desktop — not both. Microsoft has moved to make applications like Outlook work on and offline, and has upgraded its efforts with its Silverlight project. Adobe, too, recently introduced Apollo, a similar technology. However, these are nascent efforts.

Google move is particularly noteworthy, though, because Google has no legacy paid software to protect. Its products are for free. Most people have resisted switching to Google, because of the unreliability of online-only applications. This latest move will assuage those concerns, and could eventually gouge a big portion of Microsoft’s business.

Wondering what direction Microsoft’s stock price heads tomorrow?.

While Microsoft hasn’t pushing its own online-offline products aggressively, Google is about to. Today, for example, it released an RSS reader, which works both offline and online. It will likely to do the same soon in word processing, spreadsheets and other applications.

Notably, Google Gears will be open source.

So not only will Google create offline web applications, it is encouraging others to do so too. In its statement, Google said it hopes to help the industry move to a standard for creating such applications.

The Gears API will also be available in Apollo. Google Gears offers new JavaScript APIs for data storage, application caching, and multi-threading features.

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