|By Maureen O'Gara||
|January 28, 2009 10:00 AM EST||
The chattering classes - both the blogosphere and the established press - are atwitter over the rumor - this particular one revived a few days ago by TG Daily - that Google is finally going to unveil its unconfirmed S3-like online storage scheme, otherwise known as GDrive and more lately as Web Drive - well, if not soon then sometime this year - and blow Windows PCs out of the water by reducing them to devices that simply access the cloud.
Google of course is expected to reinforce the move with its own updated Office-replacing Google Apps and other Web Services, giving GDrive a cachet (and an interface) that EMC's Mozy, Microsoft's SkyDrive and Amazon's S3 online storage lack.
Resistance is only expected from those Luddites unwilling to trade one master for another and let Google search the contents of what were their hard drives so it can insert ads or who would suffer separation anxiety if the cloud went down and they couldn't get to their files
Peter Brown of the Free Software Foundation, for one, frets, "It's a little bit like saying, ‘We're in a dictatorship, the trains are running on time.' Does it matter to you that someone can see everything on your computer? Does it matter that Google can be subpoenaed at any time to hand over all your data to the American government?"
The shift in paradigm is supposed to open computing to the next billion people because PCs (or better yet netbooks) would be simpler and cheaper, built, perhaps, around a species of Google's own Linux-based Android operating system and Chrome browser. And it wouldn't be personal since your files would be accessible from any Internet access device. Naturally online and local file would sync.
Back in November when the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on GDrive it said it would be free for a small amount of storage, but the paper couldn't come up with the graduated pricing for larger pieces of real estate.
Microsoft's SkyDrive offers users 25GB of free storage but files can't be bigger than 50GB. Its paid Live Mesh service offers 5 synchable gigabytes.
The Journal also said that Google could "shift tack or shelve plans for the storage offering" if it couldn't successfully deal with the issues of "data privacy, copyright [think sharing], the economics of adding storage capacity and the technical challenges of offering service without interruption."
Google's also reportedly trying to make the widgetry directly accessible from Windows, feel like a local hard drive and apparently make search transparent across Gmail, Docs and Picasa Web Albums storage.
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