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Author Topic: Has the browser become more important than the OS?  (Read 3191 times)
zridling
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« on: March 12, 2008, 09:11:02 PM »

Because of the cloud and Web 2.0 apps, most of my day is spent in a browser, and much of what I do is in a browser. The underlying operating system is increasingly irrelevant, which aided my switch last year to GNU/Linux without any real problems. I contend this is also why so many don't feel the urgency to upgrade from XP to Vista yet — everything still works fine in XP.



Is the browser becoming more important than the OS?
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f0dder
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2008, 09:27:12 PM »

Quote
Is the browser becoming more important than the OS?
For some people, perhaps.

But, unlike all those web2.0 (and web3.0 and WHATEVER) people that are so full of themselves like to think, not everything is suitable for running in a browser. Games, stuff that requires immediate feedback, compute-intensive stuff (of the not-so-easy-to-parallelize type), et cetera.

And while you can run office-style things from a browser just fine, I'm not sure I want to - I don't want to be unable to access my stuff / edit my documents if I lose my internet connection for whatever reason.

Oh, and even on a fast low-latency line with AJAX apps, there's still more latency than when running native apps. There's probably a lot of people who aren't bothered by this, but I am.
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allen
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2008, 09:55:57 PM »

My internet connection  is  painfully  unreliable,  and as such I
don't really allow  myself  to  become  absolutely  dependent  on
anything  that  I  cannot  access offline.  Even gmail--my entire
account is backed  up  locally  so  I  can  access e-mail when my
Internet connection is down or slow.

Furthermore, I cannot tell  you  how  many  times  I've  lost  an
e-mail,  forum post or other document because I was editing it in
a web form.  Whether it's  failure  to  submit due to Internet or
server issues and inability to go back (suck as with some  secure
forms  or  forms  where JavaScript rather than the actual editbox
holds the  text).  Subsequently,  even  for  web  based  things I
typically do all of my writing in an  offline  application.  This
very post is being composed in  my  text editor, to be copied and
pasted over at submission time.

Additionally, of all the applications on my system, it's my  text
editor(s)  that  must  be  proven  the most reliable.  I crash my
browser from time to time--but my text editor must keep going.

If I am composing anything requiring any sort of significant time
or thought  investment,  I  want  the  fewest  possible points of
failure.  With web apps, you have the potential for  the  browser
to  fail; the potential for your local isp to fail; the potential
for the remote host  to  fail;  the  potential  for the script to
fail; the potential for your session to expire.  There  are  just
far  too  many  things  that  can go wrong -- compared to working
offline where there are only  two  points of failure at any given
time: The operating system and the application in question.

So for me, the desktop is still home.  I love putting  things  on
remote hosts knowing that no matter  where I am I can access them
so long as I have access to the Internet--but the  web  is  still
very  much a secondary environment for me.  So long as it's still
a system of unreliable  layers  of technologies scrapped together
and stacked on top of one  another  where any one of them hiccups
and all is lost,  I  won't  be  adopting  the Internet apps as my
primary work point.
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iphigenie
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 02:22:13 AM »

Although I make my living in web development, I still mostly use desktop apps.

I buy online, I research online, but I tend to do things on the desktop

Most of the web apps are just not as responsive - I especially notice when doing things like search or edit. I have just been looking for a bookmark manager and having tried the online ones it was just sooo slow to manage bookmarks, move them around or edit their properties to add tags.

So I only use online tools where I want to store online for backup or sharing, or where it is just for fun. Eg: librarything, bookmooch, smugmug, diigo (&spurl for the "i saw at work and want to check later at home" things). I think these are the only ones I use atm, and I have accounts with tons and tons of places since I have a professional interest

There's also the issue of trust, which I don't have to many of these providers - they could disappear overnight (the way the economy is going, quite a few will go bust this year), their security could be not as good etc. etc.

But it is the "no way I am ever organising my --whatever-- online if it takes so long to do one!" feeling

One thing I might do online is write -so i can start in one place and continue from elsewhere etc. - but when I try to really write I do not do it in a word processor (the formatting gets in the way) I tend to do it in an outliner/notetaker text tool - and although there are snippets/note takers online, they are not aimed at someone capturing bits for writing - they dont expect your notes to all be related in that way- so moving, merging etc are just too slow. That "edit" slowness I mentioned earlier

Back to the desktop for that.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 02:25:02 AM by iphigenie » Logged
zridling
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 08:09:36 AM »

f0dder, I agree that there is this big problem with online-only versions. Some have tried to overcome it with local versions that sync with online versions of the same programs, such as Zoho's calendar, word processor, etc. But right now, those only come in Windows versions, which are no help to me. And as Allen notes, what's the point of a quad-core processor if your computer is only as fast as your internet connection?!

By funneling so many new apps through the browser, you seem to be using it for things it was never setup to do, much like using a car when you really need a pickup truck.
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f0dder
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 08:17:15 AM »

Quote
By funneling so many new apps through the browser, you seem to be using it for things it was never setup to do, much like using a car when you really need a pickup truck.
Yuppers. But there's so much interest vetted in Teh IntarwebTM, books written about the subjects, people trying to promote themselves etc. that it doesn't really matter if the peg is square and the hole is round - they'll make it fit!

The craze will hopefully pass sometime, and then internet applications will be used where they make sense, and desktop apps will continue where they make sense.
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nosh
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 08:51:28 AM »

True. Everytime I see yet another "new/unique/groundbreaking" web service I say a little prayer for the "idiot "angel investors" behind it.

Quote
The craze will hopefully pass sometime
Not as long as there's this little thing called "greed" - everyone wants to win the Teh Intraweb Sweepstakes™!
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Lashiec
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 09:44:40 AM »

I live in my browser, but let's face it, so far, the Web 2.0 is not going to where their supporters want it to go. I remember reading that Vista would be the last BIG OS from Microsoft, and that the next version would be more centered in the web, as the world was moving there.

Until now, nothing has moved to web, and despite the mass media constantly repeating the desktop app (and the PC as well) is dead, and the future is a thin client (this brings back a strong resemblance of the Java craze back in the 90s), the only thing the Web 2.0 is offering is tons of services for social interaction, and for more exotic needs (just take a look at the participants in the latest TechCrunch40). Lots of services are launched everyday, venture capital is coming from god-knows-where, and 99% of those do not have a chance to actually being noticed before being swallowed by some big company (which, incidentally, uses to be centered around the "old" paradigm) for an insane amount of cash. I'm wondering if we're in the middle of another bubble...

Instead of creating useful services to replace desktop apps, and thus make some chores less tiresome, I see that startups are creating other needs to be fulfilled (just thinking in the new Twitter fad), which means we're not going anywhere (actually, the best way to update your Twitter is using desktop apps!). As you may expect, most of these services will go either unnoticed or face a slow death. Let's not even talk about the technical aspects of a future computer experience based on the cloud, just like you guys mention, it's nearly unfeasible, and pretty stupid on part of those proposing it, primarily because of connection limitations (the majority of the people isn't connected through a T1 connection, much more the opposite), security considerations, etc.

Fortunately, we also has some real options. Google, for example, has created really robust services, which truly act as a substitute of desktop apps, and so are doing Yahoo! or Microsoft. We also have other important services, like Last.FM, Flickr or Zoho, which cover other particular needs of people. I said it some other time, the computing world is going towards synergy between the web and the desktop, which is fantastic. Both are different paradigms, with their good and bad things, so that's why there's no such thing as the replacement of one by the other, some things are done better in a browser, others in a desktop. The combination of the two is where the power resides, and fortunately some people is noticing this (like the Mozilla guys with their Prism project).

Perhaps for people with simple needs when it comes computing (mail, web browsing, IM, etc.), a web-based experience could be enough, but even then, I'm sure at some point they'll want to do something else, and they'll have to resort to desktop computing.

</Web 2.0 rant> Grin

PD: Also one thing that bugs me. Web services are constantly changing, but unless someone is reporting what changes are introduced (either someone from the company or an external person), every time they do that, and you log in to your account, you have to rediscover the site again, because it's not only that they introduced new functionality, but also they changed the place where things used to be. The primary example is PhotoBucket, which has changed 4 times during a 6-month span, breaking my old use habits, and forcing me to relearn where things are located.
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justice
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 09:53:15 AM »

Desktop apps will come back as soon as they learned their lessons from web apps.
Instant gratification of web-apps will hopefully encourage desktop apps to come to the point without installation, splash screen, registration code, welcome box, preference setting, file management, menu systems, context menu crapification. Maybe they'll become task based and maybe even the os will become task-group based to facilitate the software ecosystem instead of just providing for the helper tools. Windows Server's role-based framework I'm looking at you. Jees I need a break lol.
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Rover
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 11:46:11 AM »

History repeats itself again and again.  I have a computer magazine from 1970; it has an ad for a new mini computer that has integrated email, word processing and spreadsheet capabilities. Databases were things for the IT dept. then.  Apple introduced the "first" integrated office suite in the 1980's.  MS did it again a few years later.  What's new since 1970? Not much.

The PC sparked a "revolution" because "users" could write their own programs.  This was important since IT took so long to write anything and make it productive. Of course once we started depending on these "user" (distributed) applications, we had centralize them and make them work for the whole company, not just one dept.  If you've been around IT long, you've seen the constant expansion and contraction of IT resources; distribute, centralize, repeat.

The web is another example of this same process... with more pictures.

As far as MS (or anyone else) developing a Web OS (where the local OS is just a conduit to the Internet) I don't think it will work until you eliminate hackers and viruses.  What reasonable person would trust their personal and/or financial information to the a server living on the 'Net full time?  Not on today's Internet.
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