The current issue of UpFront eZine contains an article on a GoogleMaps-like Viewer for CAD. The article contains a line:
"The point to the exercise is to eliminate the plug-ins usually necessary for viewing DWG, DGN, DWF, et al -- the support nightmare of IT departments."
and I felt I had to respond. This is just my personal opinion - Autodesk is indeed investigating various CAD viewing technologies (we have several server solutions), but recall what the name of the computing device is - the "personal computer." Server based solutions are in vogue, since it makes the IT department's job easier. There was a name for a solution like that - it was called the mainframe. Sometimes the mainframe would be slow. Sometimes it would be fast. People would work nights or weekends, since the mainframe ran so much faster with fewer users bogging it down.
The personal computer was designed to liberate us from that experience. Its performance varied solely on what the individual user did with it - not what other users were doing and the bandwidth available on the internet. In some ways, it looks like the industry is headed back in that direction. My Pentium CPU computer is being turned into a dumb VT100 terminal. :-)
IMHO, IT departments would serve their users better with automated processes to install client software across their organizations instead of forcing their organizations to share CPU cycles and bandwidth to a server. Once a user has installed the free Autodesk DWF Viewer or Autodesk Design Review (new name for Autodesk DWF Composer), their viewing and markup experiences are very powerful and enjoyable. It's just so hard to go back to anything else.