Last night I wrote about the Universal Canvas. Today in my RSS newsreader, what should appear but a great post from Steve Gillmor on the same topic. Of course being a pro, Steve made his point way better than me. Microsoft has all the pieces, says Steve, to “create a browser-hosted read-write tool for sharing and routing information.”

But the pieces are being fitted together to reveal a jigsaw puzzle that looks suspiciously like the Windows Operating System. As Steve puts it: “We’ll get the long-promised Universal Canvas, but sorry folks it will have to be Windows end to end.”

Steve also wrote in an earlier post that “Office is now a System, BizTalk is now a System (Jupiter) and IE is part of the Operating System.”

All this talk (including from me) about the universal canvas moving away from the browser and into the Office/Operating system, is a little scary. The World Wide Web was originally meant to be a decentralized network of information where people could read and write freely, as in both free beer and free speech.

Sure the browser market has been largely controlled by Microsoft these last few years, but at least browsers run on the World Wide Web – and the Web is as universal as it gets in the digital domain. So where does it leave us if the future canvas for our browsing and creating is embedded in a “system”, owned by one company, rather than on a universal network owned by no one? Is the Universal Canvas going to bypass the Web?