Friday, 16 January 2009

The perils of 'free' web software

I was always sceptical of those who warned against using 'free' web software. Why would Google, I thought, risk annoying its users by discontinuing a service? Now I'm not so sure.

I read on TechCrunch that Google has decided to withdraw a number of applications. Some of these, like Google video, are obviously redundant. But the list includes Notebook which I use frequently as a firefox plugin.

Apart from my annoyance that this is to be discontinued without consultation or serious thought for existing users' alternatives, it's a very useful and timely warning. I was just wondering about ditching Microsoft Office and migrating to Google Docs. Not any more. Imagine waking up one day and discovering that Google had stopped providing spreadsheets!

Google are perfectly within their rights to do this, of course. But its action make you remember the perils of a free service where you don't have a proper contract with the service provider.

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