Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Web 2.0 and the evolution of the browser

Open Letter to Firefox, Camino, Opera and any other Browser developers I may have overlooked. (Yes - I know I ignored Microsoft - because they appear to be absorbing Internet Explorer in to the Operating System) The proliferation of web 2.0 applications is creating an interesting scenario on many users desktops. I know that I run three different browsers, often at the same time. As a Mac user I have Safari for my everyday surfing needs. I have Camino which I use for access to Google Calendar and Mail services and Meebo. I then have firefox for one-off browsing where I want to use greasemonkey scripts, or to access sites that cause Safari a problem and I have the privacy settings activated so no userids are cached. I somehow doubt that I am alone in this scenario. I therefore believe that there is an opportunity for browser development to create the "Tear-off" Browser application. What I mean by this is to be able to create completely independent instances of the browser that can be configured with different security settings, different home page, different history information and bookmarks. While it might increase memory footprint it would have the benefit of isolating functions based on user preferences. As we become more dependent upon web apps we will want to isolate individual or groups of applications. For example, may be you want Calendar, Web Mail and Presence applications grouped together and your office productivity-type web apps in a separate group. And don't foget there are those services that you need multiple logins for. It becomes frustrating that the browser remembers either one or none of your login credentials. For those frequently used applets wouldn't it be nice to be able to create a tear-off browser that loads a specific page and prompts with the correct credentials. There is an undercurrent of disappointment that development in the browser is stagnating. How about picking up the gauntlet and create the tear-off independent browser applet and take Web 2.0 application usage to a new level.

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