Salon: The Browser as Middleware and Microsoft's Missteps

Friday November 12th, 1999

Salon Online has an interesting article in their Technology section, "Do the paranoid survive?" which delves into the paranoia that caused Microsoft to go after Netscape. Although the author discusses the idea of "the browser as middleware" -- the idea that the browser could function as a platform upon which other applications can be developed, in effect commoditizing the Operating System -- he neglects to mention that as a direct result of Microsoft's actions, Mozilla has sprung up and has been quietly developing a browser that actually embodies Microsoft's paranoid delusions. With 95% cross-platform code (expected to be 97% by release) and a user-interface built from XML, scriptable via JavaScript and C/C++, and rendered via HTML/CSS, Mozilla has more potential as a middle-tier base for cross-platform, Internet-ready application development than Netscape's offerings ever had. The Mozilla team is forging ahead into a new era in Internet applications (the Nokia/Intel Internet appliance is only the beginning) and even if it can't surmount IE's lead in the desktop browser base, it will indelibly change the face of the Internet, just as the first GUI browsers did. And Microsoft will once again be playing catch-up.

Thanks to James Keller for the news.

#2 Excellently Put

by Anon

Friday November 12th, 1999 8:21 AM

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This guy is right. If you dig deep on sites like slashdot you'll still find guys who think they can do anything with armed with emacs and links but the rest of the world moved on. Just as four years ago there are people who see no point in having web based applications. When you ask for reasons they will give you two fixable causes: internet is to slow and HTML is too limited. Both can be fixed and will be fixed. Mozilla deals with the second argument (to some extent) and broadband internet will do the rest.

This article hints on an interesting topic. Operating systems have become a commodity that is not worth very much on it self. What is an OS, when you look at windows you see a small, buggy, not so advanced kernel with whole lot of stuff on top of it. When you think about it, what exactly are the technical reasons for creating a strong dependency between those two? Answer: there isn't a technical reason.

From this it follows that crossplatform development is possible.

Of course Microsoft would be the last to stimulate this since their whole business is based on the model that you need their buggy, not so advanced kernel to run all their other stuff.