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Google Gives Developers Gears, Gadgets

Barely two weeks after Microsoft announced it would be taking open software to task for infringing on some 235 of its patents, Google, one the Web's largest users of open source products like Linux and the MySQL database, announced it would encourage free software developers by releasing a series of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow developers to mash-up and enhance existing Google products and services.

Among them is Google Gears, a browser plug-in that allows developers to create applications that function offline and across different browsers. Never mind the security implications, but the overall goal of Gears is to make the Web browser--and not operating systems like Windows--the center of the computing experience. Web-based Google, after all, doesn't have an OS. Google Gadgets, another API, encourages developers to create mini-apps that reside in the Google homepage or in Google desktop.

"...open source is popular because it gives the customer, the developer, leverage again, said Chris DiBona, Google's open-source programs manager As Google sees it, useful Google mash-ups, better Google tools and better Firefox plug-ins that use those tools, mean more Google searches and less reliance on Microsoft.

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