'Tasks' software is Gmail Labs first graduate

Jul 14, 2009 by Glenn Chapman
A view of the headquarters of the internet search engine company Google in Mountain View, California. Google Labs brainchild "Tasks" graduated from the sandbox on Tuesday as the Internet giant seeks to entice computer users to switch from packaged software to programs offered online as services.

Google Labs brainchild "Tasks" graduated from the sandbox on Tuesday as the Internet giant seeks to entice computer users to switch from packaged software to programs offered online as services.

Tasks is the first Labs project to become a fixture in Google's general free Web-based email and will be integrated with the firm's online Calendar service.

Gmail Labs was launched a year ago to let people tinker with innovations being explored by engineers at the Mountain View, California, Internet colossus.

Enlisting users to try out software ideas is an extension of a practice referred to as "dogfooding" in which creations-in-progress are tested on "Googlers" in-house, said senior product manager Ken Norton.

The phrase comes from the concept of workers "eating their own dog food" by using their own products.

Gmail Labs has worked so well that Google is expanding on the practice by launching a Calendar Labs for its free Web-based personal scheduling software.

"Rather than us having to decide in a vacuum or a conference room at Google, we were able to get millions of users trying Tasks and telling us how to improve it," Norton said. "That feature is much better now as a result."

Tasks features include world clocks that keep track of time zones; alerting people to how much time is left before their next meeting, and letting people know whether colleagues they seek are "Free or Busy."

Norton was an early supporter of "Free or Busy," and the world clock software was designed after Google engineers in Europe urged peers in Mountain View to schedule video conferences at more accommodating hours.

Along with launching Calendar Labs, Google is opening some of the program's underlying software to business customers to let them build applications customized to their needs, according to Norton.

Gmail and Calendar are part of a suite of Google Apps offered online as services that spare users the cost and hassle of buying, installing, updating and maintaining programs on networks or personal computers.

"A lot of companies are migrating away from traditional server-based software," Norton said.

"What's driving it is the users wanting these apps because that is what they use at home and prefer, and management spending millions of dollars managing IT infrastructure."

Google's online applications are seen as a threat to sales of packaged or pre-installed software on which Microsoft built is global empire.

The Redmond, Washington-based firm on Monday announced that the 2010 version of its popular Office software will feature online collaboration as the technology giant duels "in the cloud" with .

A key upgrade to widely-used Office is that online hosting will make it possible for users to access projects from any Internet-linked computers and to collaborate online in real time.

Office Web applications will be lightweight, browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote that provide access to documents from anywhere, according to Microsoft.

There will be online "co-authoring" capabilities in Word, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Microsoft's current version, Office 2007, allows online collaboration, but not in the real-time manner promised by its successor.

Microsoft on Tuesday revealed what it will charge for users of a Windows Azure cloud computing service it is to launch by the end of this year. Pricing schemes ranged from usage-based to monthly fees.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft moving Office online in duel with Google

Jul 13, 2009

Microsoft on Monday said that the 2010 version of its popular Office software will feature online collaboration as the technology giant duels "in the cloud" with Internet titan Google.

Google Apps synch to Microsoft Outlook email

Jun 10, 2009

Google on Tuesday synched applications available online as services with Outlook email programs, continuing a push into workplaces historically dominated by Microsoft software.

Google Announces the Google Pack

Jan 08, 2006

Google announced the Google Pack beta, a free collection of useful software from Google and other companies that improves the user experience online and on the desktop. In just a few clicks, users can install ...

Privacy group urges probe of Google cloud services

Mar 18, 2009

A US electronic privacy group has called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the security and privacy of Google's Web-based products such as email and photo services.

Does Google's New Tagline Imply a Shift to Enterprise Apps?

May 16, 2007

With a new tagline of "Search, Ads and Apps" announced May 14, and a new presentation application coming soon to complete the desktop quatrain of spreadsheets, word processing, presentation and e-mail, Google is poised to ...

Recommended for you

A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death

1 hour ago

Sure, you have a lot to do today—laundry, bills, dinner—but it's never too early to start planning for your digital afterlife, the fate of your numerous online accounts once you shed this mortal coil.

Web filter lifts block on gay sites

1 hour ago

A popular online safe-search filter is ending its practice of blocking links to mainstream gay and lesbian advocacy groups for users hoping to avoid obscene sites.

Protecting infrastructure with smarter CPS

8 hours ago

Security of IT networks is continually being improved to protect against malicious hackers. Yet when IT networks interface with infrastructures such as water and electric systems to provide monitoring and control capabilities, ...

Apple helps iTunes users delete free U2 album

22 hours ago

Apple on Monday began helping people boot U2 off their iTunes accounts after a cacophony of complaints about not wanting the automatically downloaded free album by the Irish rock band.

Habitual Facebook users: Suckers for social media scams?

Sep 15, 2014

A new study finds that habitual use of Facebook makes individuals susceptible to social media phishing attacks by criminals, likely because they automatically respond to requests without considering how they are connected ...

YouTube to go offline in India on Android phones

Sep 15, 2014

YouTube users in India will soon be able to save videos from the Google-owned service, making it possible to watch them offline, and the feature will eventually be available globally, the company said Monday.

User comments : 0