SYDNEY: The Google Developer Day 2007 conference in Sydney, Australia, was the platform chosen by the search titan to launch Google Gears - open-source technology for creating offline web applications - and a major incursion into Microsoft's dominant software territory.

Google claims its new product marks an important step in the evolution of web applications because it addresses a major user concern: availability of data and applications when there's no internet connection available, or when a connection is slow or unreliable.

Gears enables Google's existing online applications to have the same capabilities as their disk-based equivalents. Google Reader will be offline-enabled as of today (Thursday) and other web software such as Calendar and Docs & Spreadsheets is to follow.

Says Google ceo Eric Schmidt (pictured above): "With Google Gears we're tackling a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications and enabling a better user experience in the cloud.

"We believe strongly in the power of the community to stretch this new technology to the limits of what's possible and ultimately emerge with an open standard that benefits everyone."

Other software glitterati such as Adobe are supporting the project. "We're very excited to be collaborating with Google to move the industry forward to a standard cross-platform, cross-browser local storage capability," rah-rahs Kevin Lynch, svp and chief software architect.

"The Gears API (application programming interface) will also be available in Apollo, which enables web applications to run on the desktop, providing developers with consistent offline and local database solutions."

And Mozilla chief technical officer Brendan Eich is equally enthusiastic: "This announcement is a significant step forward for web applications. We're pleased to see Google working with open source and open standards bodies on offline web applications."

In archetypal Google fashion, its new offering is available to all comers in beta version, enabling anyone to test its capabilities (and limitations) and contribute to its improvement. To learn more about Google gears click here.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff