Google gears up for greater web influence

Google has announced plans to step up its influence on the web and challenge rivals with a new video standard, cloud computing framework and web-based application...

Google has announced plans to step up its influence on the web and challenge rivals with a new video standard, cloud computing framework and web-based application store.

The announcements, which support Google's drive to establish the web as the main platform for software development and gain enterprise confidence in cloud-based computing, came on the first day of Google's I/O developer conference taking place in San Francisco.

As part of plans to push the web as a platform for enterprise-standard software development, Google announced a version of Google App Engine that specifically addresses the needs of enterprise users and a partnership with VMware to develop a new operating system for the cloud.

The partnership seeks to remove business fears of cloud services supplier lock in by enabling application portability.

The App Engine for Business will allow companies to build and maintain their own applications to be run in a VMware environment on any infrastructure compatible with Java standards, according to US reports.

Google said it plant to introduce cloud-based database and secure transaction services later in the year, which analyst said will boost competition with rivals Amazon and Microsoft.

Google also announced plans for its YouTube subsidiary to convert all its content to a new video standard called WebM.

The standard includes VP8 video compression software acquired from On2, which Google will contribute royalty free to WebM to boost its chances of widespread adoption.

Google is banking on VP8's efficient bandwidth usage that will lower serving costs for content publishers while enabling high-quality video.

WebM will provide an entirely open-source, free web standard to compbet with Adobe's Flash technology and the H.264 standard in part owned by Apple and Microsoft.

WebM is already supported by several browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Microsoft has said they will release a plugin. With YouTube content going to the WebM format, Apple's Safari may be forced to follow suit, analysts said.

Google has announced plans to introduce a Chrome Web Store, which is to be an open marketplace for developers to sell web applications.

The Chrome Web Store could rival Intel's AppUp store and Apple's iPad and App Store, according to the Financial Times.

The public beta of collaboration tool, Google Wave, is also to be opened up to a wider audience after being restricted to a select group since its release in September.

Indicating Google Wave may be closer to full public availability, the firm announced that Google Apps administrators can now enable Wave for all users at no extra cost.

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