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Mozilla Tests Integrated Desktop Browser 156

Posted by Zonk
from the interweb-on-your-desktop dept.
HelloDotJPEG writes "Mozilla Labs, the organisation's experimental arm, has launched Prism for interested Windows users to try out. Prism is a piece of software which integrates web applications such as Gmail or Google Reader into the desktop. The program enables you to run multiple such sites as though they were local applications, each in their own dedicated browser window. The product isn't entirely new, but is an officially adopted and rebranded update to the Site-Specific Browser project WebRunner (not to be confused with XULRunner upon which it is built). From the site: 'Web developers don't have to target it separately, because any application that can run in a modern standards-compliant web browser can run in Prism. Prism is built on Firefox, so it supports rich internet technologies like HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. And while Prism focuses on how web apps can integrate into the desktop experience, we're also working to increase the capabilities of those apps by adding functionality to the Web itself, such as providing support for offline data storage and access to 3D graphics hardware.'"
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Mozilla Tests Integrated Desktop Browser

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  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:01AM (#21127399) Homepage Journal
    "we're also working to increase the capabilities of those apps by adding functionality to the Web itself, such as providing support for offline data storage and access to 3D graphics hardware"

    And thus it was so, that viruses became even more abundant, and 3D accelerated.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

      by darthflo (1095225) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:07AM (#21127455)
      I'm no expert in history, but couldn't that be the beginning of a completely new platform that'd allow developers to securely and consentually install real apps and in-browser controls that'd run natively on the user's computer?
      That'd be great! And with just a little bit of effort I'm sure it could surpass the feature-richness and security Microsoft's implementation of this process (they call it ActiveX).
      • I think firefox call that 'extensions' or 'plugins'
        • by nschubach (922175)
          I thought it was called Java...

          With engines like jME popping up 3D is pretty much there already. You only need the runtime. This is what I don't understand about Silverlight and Air. They both combine other software packages (coincidentally all controlled by the same company) to perform the same tasks a competent (sometimes incompetent) programmer can already do. I guess the key here is that it's "Web technology" driven. But is that really a good thing?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Fred_A (10934)
        Ah but wait till you see ActiveY, it's going to be great ! It'll have synergy and virtualization !
    • by eggoeater (704775)
      Of course there are always security concerns... but as successful as the web browser has been, I'm eager to see a new standard framework for internet based applications (notice I didn't say web-based.) JavaScript is too clunky to be a good language to program in and the whole html/css/javascript paradigm is something of a mess when it comes to implementing an application that's suppose to "feel" like a desktop app. I know java was suppose to help this but that fell flat and asp.net (which I do a lot of pr
    • I don't care much about viruses, running Linux and all ... however XSS (cross-site scripting) is more of a concern. And site-specific browsers could be a good way to limit their reach, if they keep one set of cookies each.
      • by dknj (441802)
        if it is implemented like HTML Applications (HTA) in windows, this is a moot point.

        and yes, microsoft did this years ago and still uses it today (you know that window that pops up when you first install windows 2003 asking what you want to do next?).
    • by hey! (33014)
      I don't see why this accelerates the propagation of viruses faster than people trusting those applications through a browser. The main difficulty would be people letting down their guard because they forget they are using a web application, but that depends on them being on their guard.

      One interesting possibility this approach raises is finer user control of information sent to servers aside from the primary application server. This could lead to users sending different cookies from different application
    • Data storage is not a new concept; it's part of the HTML5 specification [whatwg.org] (a.k.a. Web Apps 1.0) [Note: that URL seems to have some script issues...] and it is already implemented in the recent WebKit nightly builds [webkit.org].
      • Oh, I know it's definitely not a new concept for web browsing, I remember I used to have strange executable files appearing in C:\ when I used to browse inappropriate sites on IE in my younger days..
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Lotus Domino has offered off-line storage for web applications being on it since v6.0 in 2002.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrNemesis (587188)
      Well, at least this means that consumer desktops will finally catch up with Hollywood in terms of viruses being little more than 3D eye-candy. Witness Swordfish's superb 3D IDE where you write a virus by fitting transparent lego bricks together. Heck, in Independence Day Jeff Golblum even went to the effort of figuring out how alien monitors worked just so that he could project a spinning skull and crossbones on their screens just to let them know the mothership was hosed. I hear for his next trick he tried
  • Woohoo! (Score:4, Funny)

    by darthflo (1095225) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:03AM (#21127431)
    As always, the innovation over at Mozilla is incredible. After only months of intense development they managed to build an application that's like a browser except it's only a Gecko control in a window. No tabs, no anything.
    I'm sure it would've taken years to build a similar application using .NET's Browser Control.
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ztransform (929641) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:32AM (#21127671)
      But my question is: will I have to shut down all my prism applications if I want to restart the browser engine? Or will all prism apps run as a separate instance..
      • They all run as a separate instance. Prism is based on WebRunner which you can try right now. Each runs as its own process so one screwing up doesn't screw up the others.

        That said, WebRunner itself is extremely glitchy - maybe it's just behind the current Firefox code, but running things like Gmail and Meebo in it are major annoyances - above all, the cursor is never visible, in Gmail you often can't write a new email (only Reply to people), in Meebo closing a window causes the cursor to freak out and start
    • Woohoo indeed! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by m2943 (1140797)
      I'm sure it would've taken years to build a similar application using .NET's Browser Control.

      The site-specific browsers are full Mozilla browsers, they simply have some chrome removed.

      But you are absolutely right that a Windows developer would likely take the .NET browser control and try to put something like this together in VisualStudio. And the result would suck because it's not the same thing. And that highlights a common problem with Windows developers: they don't think things through properly and in
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "And that highlights a common problem with Windows developers: they don't think things through properly and instead take the obvious path that Microsoft has laid out for them. "

        And that highlights a common problem with Slashdot posters: they don't think things through properly and instead take the obvious path that Microsoft bashers have laid out for them.

        Fixed.
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon&gmail,com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:46AM (#21127827) Homepage Journal
      This is indeed a great start; I'd also like to see Moz replicate (and take over) the embedded browser controls that many other Windows apps lean on IE's crutch for (Google Earth, Winamp, etc.)
      • Why?

        I like Open Source software and Mozilla as much as the next guy, but doesn't it make sense to have your embedded controls be tightly integrated with the Operating System? I'd rather not need to have both IE and Gecko loaded into memory whenever I run Winamp.
        • by griffjon (14945)
          True, but I would like to only have gecko loaded; these are third party apps loading IE's render engine, instead of using Gecko.
        • Why?

          I like Open Source software and Mozilla as much as the next guy, but doesn't it make sense to have your embedded controls be tightly integrated with the Operating System?

          Why would you want your embedded controls to be tightly integrated with your OS? There's no reason for an HTML window to need tight OS integration. It's another web browser that's susceptible to all the issues that the core HTML engine is. It wouldn't necessarily be subject to the full browser's interface bugs, but it's got the same core so it would share those vulns. Ideally, you wouldn't want any integration with the OS.

          I'd rather not need to have both IE and Gecko loaded into memory whenever I run Winamp.

          This acts as a full replacement for the IE control. If you have some apps calling

    • I'm sure it would've taken years to build a similar application using .NET's Browser Control.

      And that similar application would run on OS X and Linux as well as Windows, right? Oops.

    • by gravis777 (123605)
      Lovely, Mozilla is now offering a 3rd party solution to an idea that has been built into Windows since 98. How is this any different from right-clicking on the desktop, going to properties, desktop, customize desktop, web, other than the fact that it uses Mozilla?
      • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Informative)

        by gravis777 (123605) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:12AM (#21128097)
        I hit submit before I was finished with my comment. I hate it when I do that. I hit submit, and then am like, dope, I wish I could edit that.

        The prism interface is a bit prettier than active desktop, and after looking at the article, rather than the summery, it looks like what its doing is pretty much creating a hyperlink to the page in your start menu or something. I hate to say it, but I really do not see anything innovative here. Am I missing something?
        • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:18AM (#21128979)
          It's just a fracking container. By itself, it's not going to do anything much.

          If a web developer wanted to create a web-based app specifically to run in WebRunner, they could do that. XUL works just as well in there as HTML does. That would give you a native UI, with more control over the UI appearance, and support for things like menus, or other native XUL widgets.

          Remember the offline web application stuff in Firefox 3? That applies here too - web apps will the able to use local data storage, and the browser will be able to keep the entire web app cached. Using that, you only need an internet connection available for the initial setup, which would probably be as simple as clicking a link. The idea is to keep giving better functionality to web applications, and allowing those applications to better integrate with the OS.

          These web apps still run in the browser's security sandbox - despite installing them on your machine, you don't need to give them read and write access to the entire filesystem, and they can't contain native code to bypass the sandbox.

          So, you click a link to install the app. The required cached files are downloaded, and a shortcut is created in the Windows start menu, or the KDE / Gnome menus, or Mac OS X's Applications directory, or wherever else. From then, it just works like a normal application, including (limited) access to local resources.

          Besides, this was done by one guy. It's existed for around 7 months. It's basically a much simpler way to build XulRunner based applications, which requires virtually no Mozilla-specific code, and can work with any web-app. XulRunner can obviously do far more, because it doesn't run in that security sandbox.
          • So at what point does it cease to be a web app and start being a normal desktop app that happens to be written in HTML/Javascript/etc.?
          • That applies here too - web apps will the able to use local data storage, and the browser will be able to keep the entire web app cached. Using that, you only need an internet connection available for the initial setup, which would probably be as simple as clicking a link.

            Meet the new desktop app. Just like the old desktop app.
        • it looks like what its doing is pretty much creating a hyperlink to the page in your start menu or something. I hate to say it, but I really do not see anything innovative here. Am I missing something?

          What I want is completely separate 'personalities' for each web site. No sharing of cookies, or cache (like embedded images sourced from doubleclick). I even want to be able to have separate 'personalities' for accessing the same website.

          I'm not schizo, just privacy-conscious. And while I can't do too much about the fact that my IP address is relatively persistent other than using a network of anonymizing proxies, I ought to be able to compartmentalize all other identifying information.

          I don't know if p

    • by tobiasly (524456)

      After only months of intense development they managed to build an application that's like a browser except it's only a Gecko control in a window. No tabs, no anything.

      Don't be so quick to dismiss this project; it's still in its very early stages. I'm sure that soon they will have an "integrated desktop browser" with tabs, bookmarks, an extensions framework, and automatic updates.

      Oh, wait...

  • Neat idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThirdPrize (938147)
    Dunno if i would ever use it. However if you were rolling out Googles web apps in an office enviroment then it might make life easier for the users. More of a desktop paradigm then a bunch of URLs.
    • by Sancho (17056)
      The thing is, applications are moving away from the desktop and towards the web because of the users. They are they ones who think that Internet Explorer takes them to the entire Internet. They are the ones who don't understand that you can access the Internet in other ways.

      I don't see this really catching on. One of the few good things about webmail is that it gives a consistent interface no matter where you are, and you don't have to install anything special in order to use it. Bringing applications b
      • by vidarh (309115)
        The entire point of this thing is that it adds extra capabilities and performance to web apps. Presumably, unless the app developers choose to depend on features that are only available in Prism, you can still access those same apps on any browser.

  • Who would actually WANT something like this?

    2 of the main reasons to run an application locally is so that you control your own data.....and don't have to look at ads. This looks like the worst of both worlds....right on your desktop.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:22AM (#21127571)
      Nobody wants to use these. Really, nobody wants to use web based apps. They suck. They're clunky, they're slow, they put your data elsewhere. Some of them have ads. As a user, anything web based is just horrible. There are a few exceptions (some people prefer web mail because of anywhere availability, but a pure-web based app isn't needed for that. I've got a home IMAP server and can access via a web client when away, or via Thunderbird when I'm at home. best of both worlds).

      That being said, as IT personnel, web based apps are great. The data is centralized (read: backed up), there are no extra apps to install, maintain, and configure on each desktop. Users can move from system to system (for example, from their main computer to a spare while one is in for maintenance) without any worry. It's a wonderful thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        You contradicted yourself a bit, but I think I understand. The techie users don't like web-based apps, but the non-techie users and the techie admins DO like them. And that's the answer.

        Personally, even though I'm techie, I'm sick of running servers at my house. I'd much rather let Google run my mail, calendar, etc, and have a webhost for my site. I'm happy to pay a company for VOIP instead of running asterisk, and I don't have to worry about major downtime if my 'server' dies. It costs more, but the t
        • by jank1887 (815982)
          "current solution is to use Opera for 1, but that means I can't use a lot of my extras"

          will the Opera 9.5 alpha help any of that?

        • by Bert64 (520050)
          firefox -ProfileManager...
          You can use multiple firefox profiles, and run several of them at once under the same user account.
          It works better if you use different themes in each profile, so you can tell them apart.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Aladrin (926209)
            Yes, but if 1 crashes, do they all crash? That's the main issue.

            Firefox appears to only let you use 1 profile at a time.
            • by vidarh (309115)
              It lets you run multiple processes, but you need to pass an extra command line option to achieve it. Can't remember the name.
              • by Bert64 (520050)
                That is -profilemanager, as you'l see in my original post...
                It pops up a menu listing your profiles and letting you make a new one, you can also manually specify a profile with -p
        • by Sancho (17056)
          I tend to use the Opera+Firefox solution. I use Opera for day-to-day browsing and Firefox for anything Flash other than Youtube. The only thing I miss in Opera is NoScript.
          • by darthflo (1095225)
            You do know Quick preferences, right? Press F12, press J -> JavaScript is en/disabled.
            Additionally, Right click -> Edit Site Prefs let's you adjust JavaScript (and everything else) on a per-Site basis.
            • by Sancho (17056)
              I know about those, but they're nowhere near as easy to use as NoScript. The main thing that NoScript does better is that it will show you all of the sites used on the current page, with options to allow them individually (and temporarily, if you like.)

              Opera's preferences don't make it easy. If an embedded bit of code is executing Javascript (dangerous, but sometimes useful), it can be pretty hard to track down what you need to explicitly allow. Another problem is that when you have a large list of sites
      • by cwgmpls (853876)
        Clunky and slow are relative. Stuff just works is absolute. In my experience, once people learn that their data is always backed up and available from any computer, that their apps are always up-to-date with no user updates needed, no version conflicts (should I use .doc or .docx?) and always look and behave the same on any computer they sit down at, and that stuff just works without any monkey business on their part (like the hassle of setting up VPN connections from every place they go) -- People I work
        • by stuuf (587464)
          What if you want to access data from multiple similar services using the same interface? I can connect any number of IMAP (or POP for the incompetently configured ones living in the 1970s) email accounts to SeaMonkey and read messages in them side by side if they all use standard protocols. What about platforms that are either not officially supported by the service or that lack the resources for a full web based app? Phones, PDAs, and Emacs won't run Gmail very well, but there are IMAP/POP/IRC/Jabber clien
    • by pkey (651794) * on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:45AM (#21128519) Homepage

      Who would actually WANT something like this?

      My grandmother, or any of the users I support who are completely baffled by tabbed browsing.

      My grandmother has a gmail account. In order for her to use it, I had to turn on POP for the account and set her up with Thunderbird. Then I changed the icon on the Thunderbird shortcut to an envelope and the name of the shortcut to "Mail" so she could find it. The thing is, I've showed her the web interface for gmail, and she actually likes it better than Thunderbird, but opening a browser, typing gmail.com and logging in are too much for her to handle. With this, I can give her that same shortcut on her desktop with the Envelope and the word "Mail" and it'll take her straight to the Gmail web interface, without an address bar, or forward/back/stop buttons to add confusion.

      The users here are set up with IRC chatrooms for their teams. We tried moving them to Campfire for a simpler interface and better opportunities for offsite access, but they liked mIRC better. They said it was easier to use than Campfire. When I asked them how Campfire's interface could possibly be more difficult to use than mIRC, they said it wasn't the interface, it was the fact that they had to leave a web browser or tab open all the time, and then they couldn't find it on the taskbar when they wanted to check out the chat. With Prism, I could give them a shortcut on the desktop that would open a Prism window to the chatroom, where the window title would be the name of the chatroom and the icon would be unique. Plus, it wouldn't get lumped in with all the other browser windows when the taskbar filled up.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:08AM (#21127465) Homepage Journal
    I think it was almost ten years ago when Microsoft came out with active desktop and Netscape countered with something which was really a browser window taking up the whole screen and called a desktop.

    I never saw either being used. Is this the same thing?
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:55AM (#21127913) Homepage

      I think it was almost ten years ago when Microsoft came out with active desktop and Netscape countered with something which was really a browser window taking up the whole screen and called a desktop.

      I never saw either being used. Is this the same thing?
      Well, I might be wrong, but this is how I see it.

      Flash, Silverlight etc. are attempts to let you write cross-platform apps that are available through the web. This is becoming the hottest area these days. But you need special tools for cross-platform development; the reason these tools are needed, is that web browsers are not exactly compatible with each other. You can't write an AJAX app and have it run perfectly in IE, FF, Opera, Safari, etc. It is tricky.

      Now, Mozilla Firefox currently runs the same way on all the major operating systems. So it could be a cross-platform app environment as well, if you think about it: Develop once for Firefox, and all people need to run your software is to use Firefox (which is a free download). But that is the problem - some people prefer IE, Opera, etc. You can't force them to switch web browser.

      Therefore, the solution for Mozilla is to separate web apps from the browser. That is, the platform will be Firefox, but people won't even notice it; Firefox will be like Flash. Imagine running IE and clicking on a web app, which then opens in a new window. It could be Flash, AJAX, or Firefox; you wouldn't know.

      Active desktop might have been adopted if there was much of a use for it, back then. There wasn't. But meanwhile things have changed, and nowadays web apps are quite useful and it now does makes sense to integrate them into your desktop - so long as you do so in a cross-platform manner. Mozilla already has such a platform - Firefox - which runs on all platforms in the same manner. All they need to do is a little packaging.
      • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
        this isn't how it works. there's no extra coding on the server side. its all client-side. any web application that can run in a web browser can run under Prism.
    • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
      The sibling post by the Anonymous Coward is more on the mark. Its nothing like Active Desktop. Basically, when you run the program, you input an Address, a name, and a select a shortcut location (start menu, quick launch, or desktop). You run that new shortcut and it executes the web-app in its own window without all the browser features. Its basically like removing all the toolbars and menu bars and just having the web-page area take up all available area. For people who run web applications and leave
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        In Opera, I can simply drag a tab in my main window to the desktop, and voila, a fullscreen app with minimal browser control. In fact, I can right click on the address bar and hide it. Simple, quick, and I don't need to have a separate 'app' for gmail.
        • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
          yes, but i'm fairly certain that this doesn't require the extra resources required by the browser. i may be wrong, but i'm fairly certain it runs with a lot less resources because its not that its hiding the web browswer... it just doesn't have the web browser there. so it has faster startup, less resources, etc.
          • by darthflo (1095225)
            The chrome doesn't really eat up your resources. Think of it as a painting. The web page you see is the picasso. The chrome's the frame. Your cpu cycles are the money you spend for painting + frame. What's gonna be more expensive? ;)
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      I have used Active Desktop a lot for small intranet applications like issue tracking, simple messages, "what's on the menu at the company cafeteria", and so on. People at that company (an advertising agency) actually loved that. Mac users at the time couldn't use it (under MacOS 9), but they would never envy a bunch of Windows 98 and 2000 users.

      I kind of miss its functionality under Gnome. I wish I could do it that easily.

      But I can live without the crashes.
  • by mi (197448) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:27AM (#21127615) Homepage

    rich internet technologies like HTML

    But does it support DNS?..

  • by Ddalex (647089) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:27AM (#21127619)
    Let me say goodbye to positive karma: Welcome back, dear Internet Explorer 3 days...

    Mozilla head #1> Umm, MS copies our tabs in their so-called browser !
    Mozilla head #2> Ok, let's make a version without tabs... and while we're at it, let's remove that pesky Back button - and we'll have a fix for the memory leak too !!!
  • laugh all you like (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:37AM (#21127733)
    This is useful for many users: it makes it much easier to migrate from desktop to web applications, and it is intrinsically easier for people to grasp "to get to your mail, click on the Mail icon" than "start the browser, go to your bookmarks, select...".

    Also, if this is well executed, it provides a better level of isolation between web applications. Right now, it's pretty tricky trying to read mail for two or three GMail accounts (it would be less tricky if profiles weren't broken...), and if one web site locks up or slows down the browser, other web apps suffer as well. SSB can address those problems.
  • by Tim82 (806662) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:37AM (#21127741)
    Am I missing something here?

    How is this different to putting a URL shortcut on your desktop and having the browser window appear without an address bar?
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Personally, I'm hoping it means it runs the site in a seperate instance, so that firefox crashing doesn't take down everything I'm doing at once, like it currently does. My current alternative is to use Opera as well, but that's still only 2, and some of my sites don't do Opera all that well. (Or Konqueror, for that matter.)
    • by bjourne (1034822) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:46AM (#21127837) Homepage Journal
      The difference is conceptual. When people start "blogging" many slashdotters also missed it: "Just upload your html using ftp!" Just compare how simple it is to put together an HTML page with a form and how (relatively) difficult it is to do the same thing using even Visual Basic. My prediction is that this is the beginning to something really big.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rbanffy (584143)
        I use to teach my students JavaScript and DOM, then let them build a, say, calculator.

        They loved to develop client-side stuff and made some very impressive things in a couple weeks.

        Then I would present them the wonderful world of forms and XMLHttpRequest stuff.

        If you don't insist on using XML, it's even fun to do.

         
    • Looks like the advantage is, you don't waste your scree space with useless forward/backward buttons, URL strings etc.
    • by aug24 (38229)
      I think they will report (on alt-tab for example) as "Google Mail" rather than "Google Mail - Firefox" and thus are a bit more 'applicationy'. But the interesting technologies will be the ones they add later, like local storage.

      Justin.
  • iPod like comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GauteL (29207) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:01AM (#21127977)
    Most comments here now remind me of the whole "no wifi, less space than a nomad, lame"-comment about the iPod when it came out. These comments are completely missing the point.

    The current problem is that our desktop is built up around the idea of local applications and that is all the current desktops are designed to handle. But nowadays people are using less and less local applications and more and more web applications (whether you like it or not), and all of these run in a separate layer through the web browser. At some point, if we aren't already there, many people will not use a single local application on their computer apart from their web browser.

    At that point, the whole distinction between the web browser and the operating system becomes completely irrelevant and we approach stage where windows is just a collection of device drivers (quote Netscape, mid nineties?).

    Currently, the operating system does a lot of great stuff for us with regards to the local applications, and it really needs to start doing the same with regards to web applications and the first step is to make web applications first class citizens on the desktop.

    Finally, complain all you want about the privacy and security issues with web applications. Well founded as they may be, they will not change the fact that people are flocking to web applications.

    Active Desktop was a bit lame and MS seemed to have no real concept of where they were going with it.It was also well before the age of "web applications" as opposed to web sites. Just because there may be similarities with that old concept doesn't make this stupid.
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      "At that point, the whole distinction between the web browser and the operating system becomes completely irrelevant and we approach stage where windows is just a collection of device drivers (quote Netscape, mid nineties?)."

      Note to self: Next time, shoot the giant dead before trying to wake it up.
    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi.gmail@com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:25AM (#21129121)
      People are flocking to web applications? Where are you getting this? Can I get a source? Or are you just making this up? Or did you "get a feeling" for it from the number of friends you have using gmail? Because, my experiences tell me, beyond email and flash games, people still want their software to be desktop-based and not web-based.

      Another point; before we do anything you said we "need" to do, we need to improve bandwidth to the world if we want web apps to work well. Honestly, I wouldn't know why you'd want to do that, seeing as they do the same thing as a non-web app but runs slower. Sure, they're more portable, but so is Java, and we all know how well Java caught on with the public.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      But nowadays people are using less and less local applications and more and more web applications ...
      I don't think this is supported by fact. Maybe Webie Speak PR, but not reality.
  • I started using WebRunner a few weeks ago and like it. I can just leave it to run minimized and not accidentally close it when I close FireFox or accidentally surf off the tab. This seems practical in several situations, set it up to wait online for World Series tickets, keep a calendar open. Most practical would be for use as a corporate tool, I could run my corporate web based software. Since most of the uses involve typing I miss automatic spell check from FF.
  • I work in a (biggish) bank and this would fit well with our current portfolio of applications.

    For our web based applications, our users are used to working with multiple browser windows opened simultaneously, each for a different part of our system (e.g. separate browser window for our credit cards system, different browser windows for our treasury system, different browser windows for our customer information system etc).

    We actually forbid the use of the "back" button, and where possible we disable it (it
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > We actually forbid the use of the "back" button, and where possible we disable it (it messes up our data integrity). We also hide the address bar.

      Your application probably riddled with other data integrity problems if it can't handle back-buttoning if even just to display a error. Try fixing the app instead of the interface, because I guarantee you're going to have "legacy" users using it through a regular browser til the end of time. Seriously, I dealt with and solved that sort of issue 10 years ago
  • I like the idea of setting a browser's window as a separate app for a given site, so that site's app can be distinguished more easily from the other (many) browsers open at a time, many of those others just "casual", while some are persistent through the day.

    But a separate app seems like a lot of overhead for a narrow solution. When I have a dozen Firefox windows open now, even though only half are persistent through the day, they all share the common resources. A separate app for each of the half-dozen per
  • by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:56AM (#21128663) Homepage
    I saw this point raised on LWN recently, and it seems relevant to bring it up here. Any observer who connects the dots will realize that Mozilla is killing off their Thunderbird email client, intentionally, and is doing so at the behest of Google.

    Let's look at the facts. Mozilla is a highly profitable [slashdot.org] organization. You would think that Mozilla could afford to spend at least a little money on hiring Thunderbird developers. Yet in reality Mozilla has done the opposite: they have completely abandoned Thunderbird [slashdot.org].

    Why? Because of money.

    The vast majority of Mozilla's income comes from Google. One of Google's main products is Gmail. Thunderbird competes with Gmail. So it makes sense that Google wants Thunderbird dead. Of course, they're not going to announce their intentions in a press release, but in reality that's exactly what's going on. Announcements like this one only make their plan more obvious than before.

    This kind of anti-competitive behavior is exactly why most Slashdot readers hate Microsoft. Why is Google getting a free pass here?

    • As I said in a previous thread, Google has essentially "bought" Mozilla.

      My opinion is that we are fast approaching a Netscape Situation, where due to politics brought on by the Google Takeover of Mozilla, it will die a horrible Netscape death. And also like Netscape, most Mozilla "products" are now fast becomming bloatware.

      Now is the time to fork, people.

      • by darthflo (1095225)
        Fork what? Firefox? As you already said, it's one horrible piece of bloat. Gecko? Why fork if there's better solutions like KHTML/WebKit or (maybe with enough effort it could be GPLd) Opera's Presto and Kestrel around? Plus let's not forget that Gecko appears to be one huge pile of dirt, stacked so high a butterfly might make it collapse by merely flapping it's wings.
    • by roca (43122) on Friday October 26, 2007 @05:56PM (#21134735) Homepage
      Yeah, we're trying so hard to kill Thunderbird we created a new subsidiary company to drive it, hired a top guy to run the company, and gave it $3M to get started. Pretty expensive way to "kill" it...
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:05AM (#21128793)
    I just tried it. (On gaiaonline.com, if you must know.) Horrid. Why?

    Websites are designed to be used in a browser. Removing all the controls and stuff makes them hard to navigate, and the lack of tabs is quite a pain as well. I've seen that it has settings to add the navigation/etc back in, but then... Isn't it back to just being a browser? The biggest problem with this is that sites aren't designed for it.

    In fact, I just tried it in GMail (on our domain) as well, and other than the fact that it's in a seperate process from firefox and they shouldn't crash each other, it's crap. If you click any of the links at the top, they open in browser. (I assume this will still be the case if you can 'installed' the 'app' for those as well.) None of the firefox extensions are available. Speed (of course) isn't improved.

    And the worst part? Making it happen for a new site means creating a file, zipping it, and launching it separately. I could write a script that will quickly do that for me from a URL, but I shouldn't have to.

    Unless I'm extensively working with a site that tends to crash the browser, I doubt I'll get much use out of this.
    • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
      it's not meant as a web-browser. it's meant to run a single web-application. there's a big difference between any ol' website and a web application. an example is Gmail or Facebook. Things that actually run an application, not something that goes back and forth between different pages.
  • As I see it, this is basically making the browser serve a role similar to an XWindows server.
  • I don't want to kick off a flame war here, but upon reading some comments, the situation looks like a repetition of the good old browser wars.

    On one hand, there's Microsoft. With IE7, I hope we can all agree upon, they have fixed lots of very bad bugs it had. It's still a rather big ugly mess, but progress seems to be going in the right direction. With a bit of goodwill, one might even imagine them to produce a secure and usable browser with v8 or so. On the other hand, there's the ex-underdog Mozilla. Ri
  • ...why I'd want to pretend GMail was a dedicated email application running on my desktop, when I could just...run a dedicated email application on my desktop?
  • Does it run threads? No? Don't call us, we'll call you.

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