By way of the Web Standards Project I came across an essay that, among discussing other things, states that web browsers will eventually become, the only application platform that matters, and that Microsoft may be ignoring this to their peril. (Although, I pretty sure that are some wily folks over at the Lazy M Ranch who have realized this and have been thinking about the best way to do this or destroy it.)
Many others have been saying this for some time. The only way to gain market share now is to make certain that your company writes the browsing agents for most of the devices that people use. This line of thinking goes that, Microsoft could render Linux as less threatening by writing a browser for it that was better than Mozilla. At that point Linux client systems just become another set of devices. Maybe there is something obvious that I am missing here, but it seems like that argument is sound.
Obviously you wouldn’t want to run graphically intensive games inside a browser and you wouldn’t want to edit and render CGI inside a web browser, but those have always been applications that depended strongly on hardware. In these days of ridiculous clockspeeds and enormous number crunching power, most productivity applications are easier than spit and can run on some really stupid hardware. This has been the case for many years now.
That’s why the desktop market has slowed down so much–the breaking point really occurred just a few years before the release of Windows 3. It was inertia, games, video editing and wily marketing that carried the hardware market forward until now. But it’s beginning not to work anymore. This is why Microsoft is moving into the game console market and why Intel is trying to tie itself into things other than CPUs, like communications and graphics. You’re not going to generate the scenes of Shrek II on a mobile phone but, you are going to write documents and send mail on a mobile phone. Thus browsers are good enough for most of these applications.
I know this is a weird entry for me to write and that most of my friends in hardspace don’t care. But it seemed important to me, so here it is.