In the past couple of months Google has hired four people who used to work on Internet Explorer in various capacities [especially its XML support] who then moved to BEA; David Bau, Rod Chavez, Gary Burd and most recently Adam Bosworth. A number of my coworkers used to work with these guys since our team, the Microsoft XML team, was once part of the Internet Explorer team. It's been interesting chatting in the hallways with folks contemplating what Google would want to build that requires folks with a background in building XML data access technologies both on the client side, Internet Explorer and on the server, BEA's WebLogic.
Another interesting recent Google hire is Joshua Bloch. He is probably the most visible guy working on the Java language at Sun behind James Gosling. Based on recent interviews with Joshua Bloch about Java his most recent endeavors involved adding new features to the language that mimic those in C#.
While chomping on some cheap sushi at Sushi Land yesterday some friends and I wondered what Google could be planning next. So far, the software industry including my employer has been playing catchup with Google and reacting to their moves. According to news reports MSN is trying to catch up to Google search and Hotmail ups their free storage limit to compete with GMail. However this is all reactive and we still haven't seen significant competition to Google News, Google Image Search, Google Groups or even to a lesser extent Orkut and Blogger. By the time the major online networks like AOL, MSN or Yahoo! can provide decent alternatives to this media empire Google will have produced their next major addition.
So far Google doesn't seem to have stitched all its pieces into a coherent media empire as competitors like Yahoo! have done but this seems like it will only be a matter of time. What is of more interest to the geek in me is what Google could build next that could tie it all together. As Rich Skrenta wrote in his post the Secret Source of Google's Power
Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application.
While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.
A friend of mine, Justin, had an interesting idea at dinner yesterday. What if Google ends up building the network computer? They can give users the storage space and reliability to run place all their data online. They can mimic the major desktop applications users interact with daily by using Web technologies. This sounds far fetched but then again, I'd have never imagined I'd see a free email service that gave 1GB of free email.
Although I think Justin's idea is outlandish but suspect the truth isn't much further from that.
Update: It seems Google also picked up another Java language guy from Sun. Neal Gafter who worked on various Java compiler tools including javac, javadoc and javap. Curiouser and curiouser.