The 400-pound Mountain View, California

by francine Hardaway on April 14, 2006

The 400-pound Mountain View, California gorilla that was recently added to the S&P 500 list and has revolutionized the way advertisers reach customers launched Google calendar last week. On the”Inside Google” blog, one of the employees wrote that although the URL was live and expected to launch any day, he wondered how many people would actually use group calendars.

That man has never been an admin, or a mother, or a person who operates regularly from three different computers in two different home offices and multiple countries. I was up at 4:30AM on the day after the announcement exporting my calendar to Google, and first allowing my family to share it, so they could see when I was coming to visit them and not plan to visit me on the same weekend. (Not that they ever visit ME…) Then I extended the privilege of sharing it to Ed, my business partner, so he can find me if he ever wants to schedule a meeting for both of us with a client or a potential client. Before this calendar, Ed used to send an email to me asking for my availabilities, I had to look them up and email him back, and then I had to make a calendar entry. All those steps are gone now. �Enterprise� software has been doing this for a while, but Ed and I are the opposite of the enterprise. We�re the little guys.

Because I tried to do everything at once with Google Calendar, I know the calendar is a Beta. When you add an event that repeats, as the Stealthmode Partners dinners do (second Monday of every month), the calendar has a default check mark on Sunday as well, so that you will find the dinners scheduled both for Sundays and Mondays unless you remove the check mark.

Also, it’s difficult to move an event from one date to another using the drag and drop method as you can with ICal. That’s because this is, after all, a web-based calendar and not a calendar client.

More important, during the first few days, the early adopters jammed the calendar site and if I ever closed the browser window I had trouble getting back on.

But those are small quibbles. Google has very advanced software engineers who are used to making things easier for people. So when you enter an appointment, you have many choices: you can just enter it, with no other information, or you can add the time, the place, the repetitions, and some notes. You can also invite other people by email, if you have a Gmail account.

Okay, so you are going to tell me that Outlook does all of this, and so does Entourage. But they are on your computer, and you have to be at your own computer in one place, or you have to sync with a PDA. The Google calendar is everywhere, because it�s on the web. If I open the browser on my PDA, I can have my calendar on my mobile device without the intercession of ActiveSync, PocketMac, or all those other tools that arose just to accept information in and out of mobile devices.

The Google calendar is part of a shift from software that resides on the desktop to software as a service. Google also bought Writely (, a web-based word processing services, and is about to move it over to Google�s own servers. We will soon be able to keep all our documents online, as well as all our appointments. This will make it easier to access things as we become more and more mobile in our computing, and also easier to share things with colleagues, friends, and family. Truthfully, sites like have some of these capabilities already, but they aren�t considered part of business productivity. That means teenagers use them and adults do not.

Google will make it �kosher� for businesspeople to collaborate beyond the firewall. GroveSite has already done this, but it doesn�t (yet) have the reach of Google.

You can see where all this is going. A big shift, about which techies already know, is under way in the software industry. It is my duty to pass this on to you, the ordinary human. Why? So you won�t be left holding the Microsoft stock that�s now languishing in your IRA. Bill Gates will retire on Microsoft stock, but you won�t.

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