I read an article today about the possible future of personal computer use, called
Goodbye, computer; hello, world! . In a nutshell, this article talked about an idea that may or may not be underway right now at Google. The idea is that Google would create their own operating system and allow users to subscribe to their mega-computer that would hold all of their personal applications. Theoretically, this would make the need for storing data on a PC obsolete. You could now travel to Geneva without lugging around your laptop and just hop on a computer over there, login, and voila! All of your applications are at your fingertips.
Okay, that would probably work for some non-proprietary data needs. I might feel comfortable publishing out my Quicken data to Google, as long as my privacy was guaranteed. I am not so sure this would ever work for business-level data, however.
Then came the part of the article that made me squirm. In order for this throw-away-your-PC model to work, web applications would have to become quicker. I will just quote directly the line about the technologies that Google is looking to use to assist their team in creating web apps that are as fast as desktop applications. This new marriage of technologies is called Ajax.