There’s Still Life in Web Browsers

With Web applications quickly wallpapering the desktops of PC users these days, it seems the traditional Web browser soon will become obsolete. While the Web has been reinvented many times over, no long-standing browser — Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari — has shown much innovation since its inception.

But with the recent debut of Google’s Chrome, “the browser is here to stay,” said Ray Valdes, a vice president of research for Gartner in San Jose, Calif. In fact, the bar is now raised for Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Chrome launches a Web-based application in a window that presents the app without the traditional window panes of the address bar, bookmarks, etc. Pundits claim it could accelerate the demise of the browser, despite the fact that it is one itself.

Adding to the mix is the fact that recent iterations of Web companies resemble browsers. Skype, the software application for voice communication over the Internet “is not a browser but is browser-like,” Valdes said.

Similarly, the gaming/fantasy applications “World of Warcraft” and Second Life are in effect browsers of virtual worlds. iTunes is like a browser for music, and social networks arguably are yet another type of browser, Valdes said.

“Different types of desktop applications use Internet protocols like browsers but aren’t general browsers,” he said. However, many widgets on the desktop open a browser window when activated and use the Web as their delivery platform.

Adobe’s Integrated Runtime (AIR) and the software developed on it can…



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