Web browsers as platforms
by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 07/10/2005
Here’s another interesting dissenting voice of M. Keith Warren that wonders “Will Atlas slow the move to smart clients? […] What are we trying to do but merely mimic Windows.”
Keith ponders similar issues that I do. What is the web browser other than just another level of abstraction and a place to insert an alternative set of API’s to the underlying Windows OS that break the ties to Windows? It is inherently a threat to Microsoft, because apps can be developed that run anywhere with unlimited seats, and no one pays anyone any licenses. Java was a similar layer of abstraction. Sometimes it’s called a virtual machine (as in JVM), sometimes it’s called a common language runtime (.NET’s CLR), and sometimes just a web browser. No matter your semantics, the point is that it offers a slippery slope migration path off of Windows, and Microsoft can’t like that. So, it will be interesting to watch how Microsoft responds to the fact that the alternative browsers are reverse engineering the one little magic bullet in MSXML that makes the Ajax APIs possible: XmlHttpRequest.
There is a project codenamed Atlas that works with ASP.NET 2.0 intended to bring the rich Ajax experience to ASP.NET. Anyone who has followed my website over the past number of years knows that I made a desperate attempt to learn and love ASP.NET, but failed. In hindsight, what I wanted out of ASP.NET was what Ajax is bringing today. But if and when Microsoft creates a decent implementation, I’ll have to go through the VisualStudio.NET upgrade and 2-hour install again, a series of scavenger hunts, and learn to do triple-back-flips again, only just to risk being disappointed.