It’s long, I won’t tell a lie, but it’s worth it. This essay by Paul Graham sets out some of the advantages of web applications over traditional desktop software, likening it to the last time there was a major revolution in software back in 1975 when a bloke called Bill Gates decided to start a little company.

In that essay he talks about the need for a simple, powerful, open source and free browser before web applications can truly go universal. That browser, I believe, is Firefox. The article was written in 2001, and it’s great to see how so many of the pieces Paul believed would need to be in place before the moving of software to the web could take place are there. Broadband, open browsers, sensible JavaScript support, more advanced display techniques and much more.

It’s a great read, and I’ll be working my way through his other articles shortly, especially the ones about startups.

(Honourable nods of the head to Kottke, who linked to this essay from his own treatise on the future of the web. That’s also well worth a read, and I may well be putting my thoughts down here about Google very soon.)