Monday, March 14, 2005 - Portals: Google Pioneers Use Old Microsoft Tools In New Web Programs - Portals: "Meet Ajax, the technology powerhouse. For years, it has been living indolently on your computer, never really doing much of anything.
In the past few months, though, computer programmers, most notably those at Google, have begun to wake up Ajax and put it to work. And as a result, the computer industry may never be the same.
Ajax is a recently coined name for a dense mouthful of software technologies that are built into Web browsers. The most important of them are JavaScript, a computer-programming language; dynamic HTML, which is a way of displaying information on a screen; and XMLHTTP, a procedure a Web browser can use to very quickly get information from a central server.
Who loses? For one, Sun Microsystems, which has for years talked up its Java programming language for precisely these sorts of jobs. Instead of Java, Ajax-style programming uses JavaScript -- no relation -- which is easier to work with and built free into every browser.
Another potential loser, of course, is Microsoft, which doesn't much like the fact that its upstart rival Google is setting the agenda for the world's computer programmers -- and in such an offhanded way at that. (Google is way too cool for anything as gauche as news releases; it usually just puts new programs on its Web site and waits for the world to beat a path to its door. Much of the explication of Google's innovative work was done by outside programmers like Jim Ley in London and Philip Lindsay in New Zealand.)
There is a barn-sized irony in all this. Many of the Ajax technologies were developed by Microsoft, back when it was fighting Sun over Java. At the time, Microsoft was beefing up Internet Explorer to make it a rival to Java. Now those tools exist everywhere, even in the hands of Microsoft rivals."

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