Google is releasing its first ever hard-drive-based application, in what some tech watchers are calling a charge onto Microsoft's turf. Google Gears, an open-source browser extension now in beta, will allow users to operate Google programs without a web connection—a domain Gates, Ballmer, and co. have traditionally ruled.
Google's news-feed Reader will be the first application Gears will open up offline. But Mountain View says web-based programs like Google Docs and Spreadsheets will soon be a go without a connection, challenging Word and Excel. “Microsoft is either going to have to support this or do something like it,” one analyst told the Financial Times. (Read more Google stories.)