August 05, 2013, 1:50 PM — Google's unrelenting march into Microsoft's turf continues.
A mere two weeks after the release of the Chrome App Launcher for Windows--Google's backdoor into the offline world, basically--the company has announced that when Windows users install the desktop version of Google Drive, it will automatically dump shortcuts for Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive on your desktop, along with one for your Drive-based online storage.
Double-clicking on one of those icons opens up the associated web app. After signing in to your Google account you're free to powerhouse through your productivity tasks, and all your work will automatically save to the cloud, the Google Drive team explained in a Google+ post. These simple desktop links could prove handy indeed for non-techies or people who chose to live their lives in Google's free, cloud-connected ecosystem, especially if you configure the Drive family of apps to work offline.
Taking the online onto the desktop
While default shortcut dumps are evil incarnate and should be cast back into the depths from which they spawned, Google's move is actually pretty savvy. Not only do the shortcuts reinforce the fact that Drive is a full productivity suite rather than a simple cloud storage box, but like the Chrome app launcher, they also keep Google's service in your face. Plus, the shortcuts further muddle the increasingly blurry line between the desktop and the open web.
"For quite some time, we've had a dichotomy between web apps and native apps, and one of the things that sets them apart is the ability [for native apps] to be launched from the desktop and have a degree of persistence and independence from the browser," Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, told PCWorld when the Chrome App Launcher was released. "...People want to interact with their web apps as easily as they do with their desktop apps."
The Chrome App Launcher helps to break down those walls, and now, so will these Drive-related shortcuts.
And Google? Well, Google makes its money by tossing ads at your eyeballs when you're on the web. Check out PCWorld's Chrome App Launcher analysis for the full scoop on what Google stands to gain by dumping web apps on your desktop, and look for the Google Drive installation tweak to roll out sometime in the next week.