We can call the first theme "the Internet as desktop," a change in Net usage that is already visible in tools such as Google Apps.

Offloading common computing tasks to the Net is Google's way of challenging Microsoft's hold on office software such as word processors and spreadsheets, as well as e-mail. Google Apps offers the advantage of using tools online, saving companies money and letting them standardize software easily across their business network. But Microsoft has just thrown Google a haymaker in the form of a new browser plug-in, Silverlight.

I call Silverlight a plug-in, but for developers, it's the chance to leverage the Net's flexibility while offsetting some of its disadvantages. Though developed to provide multimedia experiences on the Net, Silverlight is powerful enough to offer desktop-like performance with Web applications. It's also capable of working with Internet Explorer, Firefox or the Mac's Safari.

Down the road, I can see Silverlight tying in to Microsoft's Internet office tools to make the existing Google applications look positively prehistoric.

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