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Response to Bruce Eckel’s Google Chrome Changes the Game

Posted by malcolmdavis on October 5, 2009 at 7:34 AM PDT

Bruce's blog:
http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=266136

The browser OS was the original concept of the Netscape browser back in the 90's, hence there nothing new about the concept.  Google breathing life back into the concept with Chrome can almost be expected.  Palm Pre is based on a similar technology footing, the concept of easy entry for developers because it's based on HTML, rather than some propriety type technology of like the iPhone.  

However the road ahead of Chromes if fraught with perils.  As evidenced in the following examples of other's plights to the rode to greatness.

Confusion, the story of 2 Javas
Java was supposed to resolve many problems with consistency and browser development, but a company called Microsoft got in the way.  Windows on the desktop, Corporate America either had to run Microsoft version or Sun's version of the JVM.  Due to incompatibilities of the 2 Java's, many companies that sold browser based Java products dictated which version of the JVM.  (Microsoft JVM was chosen over Sun at one of the Telecommunication firms I consulted.  Sun's JVM was not allowed in the Windows environment.) In the same vane as Java, in an effort to shape the market to their advantage, Microsoft has done a terrific job of confusing the browser market by being non-HTML standard, and going back and forth on their commitment to standards.

Business relationships, the story of Yahoo over Gmail
Yahoo still has more email accounts than Gmail.  Many companies, ISPs, secondary service providers, provide mail accounts via Yahoo.  Many people run Yahoo mail without knowing they are running Yahoo.  It is about business, and Yahoo provides a solution.  

The craziness that is HTML, the story of confusion
HTML, JavaScript, XML, CSS, etc, is a crazy mix of technology that has bothered me.  The mixing of different development metaphors into a single page, the difficulty of unit testing, issues with code readability, technology technique overlap, …., has made browser development more of an art than a science.

Example: How an object is placed on a page varies, use HTML tables, CSS <div>, JavaScript? I know people that are entirely CSS driven and use nothing but <div>.  However relying heavily on CSS has limitations.  Changes in the smallest CSS element can have cascading impacts on the overall look.  There is also the problem of mixing in the HTML & JavaScript techniques with CSS.  

While HTML 5 addresses many concerns, 5 still carries the weight of the past.

Loss of focus, the ghost of Yahoo past visits Google
Yahoo lost focus on product core, wasted money, and fell behind.  Many have equated Google behavior to that of Yahoo.  Even though trivial, Google has a rounding issue with their calculator.  Could the issue be systematic of bigger problems?

http://www.google.com/search?q=999999999999999+-+999999999999997

There are groups that sit around all day pounding on the search engines looking for pros and cons of the variety of engines.   They find things like the calculator rounding error, among numerous other things.  Interesting that Bing gets the calculation right when Google does not.

Diversity of environments, the story of Mac's lost conquest of Corporate America
One of the points of entry issues with the Mac into companies is the multi-discipline problem.  Many applications that are Windows specific, therefore many companies are a Windows shop.  While more and more are adopting Macs, requiring virtualization software to run Windows (i.e. Parallels) or a dual boot configuration. Introducing and supporting a second OS on every computer is not something many are willing to make the investment.

Software is continuously becoming less and less about what is on the computer, and more and more about the services provided by the browser.  However, only time will tell if Google can traverse the perils that face Chrome.

Comments

Malcolm - You mentioned the "craziness that is HTML, the ...

Malcolm - You mentioned the "craziness that is HTML, the story of confusion"

I have always been a big fan of desktop apps. I used tons of them on the Mac back from 1992-1997, and then tons of Windows apps from 1997 onward. These would be little applications, often freeware or shareware, that I would download. Games and utilities.

Browser based UIs have never been nearly as satisfying to me. They aren't as snappy nor as easy to use!

I've said for years that I prefer desktop apps, and that if I ever wrote a serious app it would have a desktop app version, although it might have other versions as well. For instance, my broker for many years, IB (Interactive Brokers) offers a desktop app, and a web app. The desktop app is far more feature rich, so much so that I always hated using the web version!

When we look at the prevalence of Apps on mobile phones, I feel like we are repeating the story a little bit, with lots of apps created to run on the devices instead of web-based. I still don't understand why more companies don't release their apps on Windows and Mac today, in fact the other day I tried to find some windows games and it proved far more difficult than it used to, all of the download sites seemed to be peddling spyware. It should be all about the user, and the desktop permits far better UI than a web browser!