Much like Windows is Microsoft’s platform and OS X is Apple’s platform, the Web is Google’s platform of choice. It’s worked out well for them so far, and some of Google’s products, like Docs, are even starting to encroach on long established tools like Microsoft Office. Now Google Drive, which includes Docs, is starting to threaten the very core concept behind the personal computer.
Google announced some changes to Drive today that make the service a lot more user friendly. The changes also make it so that Drive can handily replace much of the functionality of a PC with some improvements to the user experience that make it even better than the experience you can get on the PC.
First and foremost, Google Drive has always been a home away from home so to speak when it comes to storing files. Like any digital locker service, users can store their files for later retrieval. Unlike other services, however, Google Drive seemingly wants to replace your PC by being a PC. Users can create folders, sure, but now Google Drive lets you add files directly to a new folder while organizing files. It’s a small change, but an important one as Google Drive becomes your virtual PC.
The other addition in how Drive handles files is more of a threat to the PC’s dominance. Google says that Chrome users can now drag and drop files from their PC into their folders on Drive. You might start to fill up the 5GB of free data pretty quickly, but it’s a really nice addition for those of us who backup most of our content online.
Beyond the previous two additions, the rest of the update is more about making Drive more user friendly. Users can now search for files by the name of the person who sent them. It’s sometimes hard to remember the actual name of files, so it’s a nice option to have when you’re dealing with multiple files sent from multiple people. File search will also now look through your trash folder just in case you threw away an important file.
Finally, Google Drive can now open Google Earth files (.kml and .kmz) inside the browser. Regular users may not see much of a benefit, but developers will obviously be happy with it.
It still has a long ways to go, but Google is laying the foundation for Drive to take over the traditional desktop. The Web is immediate and accessible wherever you are. The files on your PC are accessible only on the hard drive or removable storage they’re located on. The advantages are immediately apparent, but there’s still one big obstacle – price. Google’s plans to take over the desktop will come to fruition once its able to offer more storage for free, or offer more storage for lower prices.