B2G: From Browser to Platform

July 25, 2011

in Browsers,Mozilla,Post-PC/Ambient Computing

In my post, The Browser is a Transitional Technology, I wrote that I thought  web browsers were really Personal Computing Era applications and that browsers were unlikely to continue to exist as such as we move deeply into the Ambient Computing Era. However,  I expect browser technologies to have a key role in the Ambient Computing Era. In Why Mozilla, I talked about the inevitable emergence of a universal application platform for the Ambient Era and how open web technologies could serve that role. Last month I gave a talk where I tried to pull some of these ideas together:

For slides, 14-19 I talked about how when you remove that PC application facade from a modern browser you have essentially an open web-based application platform that is appropriate for all classes of ambient computing devices.

Today Mozilla announced an embryonic project that is directed towards that goal.    B2G or (Booting to the Web) is about showing that the open the web application platform can be the primarily platform for running native-grade applications.  As the project page says:

Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development. To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include — and in places exceed — the capabilities of the competing stacks in question.

One of the first steps is to directly boot devices into running Gecko, Mozilla’s core browser engine.  Essentially the devices will boot directly into the browser platform, but without the baggage and overhead of a traditional PC based web browser.  This is essentially the vision of slide 17 of my presentation.  The “G” in B2G comes from the use of Gecko, but the project is really about the open web. Any other set of browser technologies could potentially be used in the same way.  As the project web site says: “We aren’t trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we’re trying to have them run on the web.”

This project is just starting, so nobody yet knows all the details or how successful it will be.  But, like all Mozilla projects it will take place in the open and with an open invitation for you involvement.

{ 2 comments }

SOPHIA July 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I’m really curious what a browser based OS will look like. Chrome has become to be the biggest rival of mozilla.
Actually, there should be some standards that all the applications or OS developed by these standards can be compatible with each other. What a great job. You can use whatever you want to use without any compatibility problems.
You can use IE, avant browser in mac,linux and even andriod , you can also use firefox in chrome OS….
It’s a dream.

voracity July 26, 2011 at 3:51 am

Why not get a list of top 100 applications/apps, audit their features and create a list in the process, and then see what remains to be done with the web platform (and how easy it is to do!) e.g. If you take a look at this kind of list (obviously tech-biased):

http://sourceforge.net/directory

Scanning through you see 7-zip, Filezilla, PortableApps, GIMP, Audacity, DC++, VirtualDub, Shareaza, PDFCreator and Pidgin. Without serious server involvement, very few of these are all that easy to make as web apps. (Incidentally, would this be a good point to hawk my web-shell project (voracity.org/well) that provides that kind of server backend — or at least will, once I release it. :) ?)

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