Chrome: What does it mean?

Already we get the push-back against chrome — “It’s just a fucking web browser”, cry the headlines, “no revolution is in store.” Sure. And linux is just an operating system. All the “just an…” crowd can flail their arms as much as they want. So what is the Chrome shouting all about?

The web is not going anywhere. It started to become a serious platform contender since AJAX — 5 years ago. Since then, the only criticism seriously leveled at it is that it is not as mature as traditional desktop platforms — that in the five years it existed, it did not become as fast as classical desktop applications, that it did not become as fully featured as classical desktop applications, culminating in “Google Docs cannot yet replace MS Office”. Of course not — that’s not the issue. That it even comes up — that many places find it better to keep all their documents in a wiki, or Docs, or blogs — that e-mail for many is a web-only experience, that traditional photo-management apps are losing out when fighting with the likes of flickr — should be a wake-up call. The web is here to stay, and it is going to be the dominant application platform in the future.

Yes, the browser is a cloud OS. Being in the web business as a developer since ’99, I can say this — without feeling that I’m mis-stating things for a second. Nobody cares about the “pooly debugged device drivers” as the kernel — we can deliver a browser on top of a minimal, fast-booting, “classical” OS such as Linux+X+metacity which does nothing but handle the boring tasks — and the browser is the common platform that the applications target. Even local applications will not bother displaying a GUI, instead opting for a webserver interface to the user.

With hosting (especially of virtual servers) becoming cheaper all the time, we are going to see more out-of-the-box server solutions (like the already existing “one click to add wordpress to your hosted site” hosts) and application service providers (like Yahoo! Mail) competing against the traditional software market, the flaws in traditional OSs where the user must administrate a bunch of programs with conflicting DLLs and crappy upgrade procedures is doomed to become a thing of the past. When users find out that hosted means they do not have to “back up or shut up” when they lose important documents, I forsee a mass exodus from the chains of classical applications.

The browser is the OS, and Chrome — to all appearances — appears to be a great implementation of that concept. Deal with it, register!

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6 Responses to Chrome: What does it mean?

  1. Chen Shapira says:

    Chrome is nice, but after trying it for a day or two, I found no compelling reason to switch from Firefox.

  2. moshez says:

    I haven’t tried it yet ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cory says:

    All well-said. My only quibble: “Even local applications will not bother displaying a GUI, instead opting for a webserver interface to the user. ”

    Dude, have you *written* a web application lately? ๐Ÿ™‚ Even with the best tools, it’s far more complex than writing a desktop app with traditional GUI toolkits. Things are made far simpler by having the rendering in the same place as the model.

    Maybe in 10 years, when languages and toolkits exist that deal with asynchrony and browser differences better (vastly better), will desktop applications finally cease to exist.

  4. moshez says:

    In fact, we are currently writing a web app in Dojo/Nevow, so yes, I do know what I’m talking about ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s more complicated in some ways, less complicated in others, and I, personally, find it waaaaaaaay more fun.

  5. prodlife says:

    Very much moshez of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m peeved at the lack of integration between the browser and google.
    Wouldn’t you expect clicking on RSS link to directly open google reader? Firefox does that (it even displays an RSS icon on toolbar where rss.xml exists, so you don’t need to look for link). Chrome is disappointingly non-web 2.0 from this aspect.

  6. prodlife says:

    Andy Kessler had a more convincing writeup: http://www.andykessler.com/andy_kessler/2008/09/forbescom—googles-offensive-strategy.html

    Google browser on desktop is just another browser.
    Google browser on Google mobile device is vendor lock-in and 100% market share.

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