[Apologies beforehand, the idea is sound but the delivery is not as I hoped. Blame the Monkey I had typing ]
How would you change the browser?
This week we saw Google demonstrate the fininshed Chrome OS. For those of you that don’t know, Chrome is an operating system based off the browser of the same name. The premise being that most if not all we do today is in the browser so give the user what they want, instant access to the Web. Despite a lot of people’s heckling, Chrome is an intersting idea. It leverages and uses the web. It reflects what users actually do with computers.
But I have a problem with Chrome. The big idea behind it is that if all we do is live and work on the web, then all we need is the web. So no need for applications that work offline (HTML5 has offline caching). There’s no need for storage (just leave it all in the cloud).
I believe this is an incomplete vision. So I like to propose a different one.
I call it Mosaic
[Okay so this idea is based on my first view of ChromeOS, a couple of projects at Microsoft Research, and a brief conversation on Twitter.]
Mosaic is a both a web browser and an operating system enviroment. It is based on the idea that the web and the desktop do not need to be seperated but merged. Mosaic is an attempt to truly move the browser away from being a simple portal for websites, and make web apps feel like applications.
Mosaic would be built similar to MSR’s ServiceOS. The browser would allocate and control resources like an operating system. It would allow for applications to access CPU/GPU components and other parts of the hardware for better performance. This construction allows for WebApps to be integrated more like native applications (Comparable to IE9). This construction would also focus on creating a more responsive way of handling security angainst online threats (phising, viruses). And hopefully none of that constant freezing of websites like Chrome.
Because Mosaic is built on the idea that future computing is one where the user has the benefit of native applications, plug-ins are important. Whether Flash, Silverlight, or whatever cmes next the need for a secure and safe method for running plug-ins remains. Mosaic’s plug-in framework would focus on better performance through hardware acceleration and security. This framework would also be used to allow programs built on C++.
Mosaic would have the ability to move what you did last from one device to another within Mosaic. This would include “freezing” any application, like Rdio, to be resumed on another device. The user would have control on how and where this occurs.
When a user downloads Mosaic, they will be able to use WebApps in ways similar to Chrome and IE as well as insert frequented web sites. The Mosaic Framework allows a user to create the space they need, such as a space for messaging applications or RSS readers. The Framework allows developers to easily create hooks for existing applications to be ported to the Mosaic enviroment. The Framwork also allows a developer to create applications that can make use of and have access to hardware. For example cameras. This enviroment can also foster the creation of Hyprid programs that fall somewhere between native and web based.
Okay before I finish I wanted to describe the Mosaic enviroment. Most browsers, even while pushing webapps, deliver them within the confines of traditional browser tabs. This makes for an odd experience. And when in cases, like IE9, they try to move out of the way they sacrifice essentials like tabs. With Mosaic the idea is to balance this by creating an “enviroment”. The Enviroment is like Apple’s Mission Control and shows downloaded applications, web apps ,and web history. The point of the enviroment is to push the browser interface. The Enviroment UI allows for a more desktop experience and opens up the browser and applications to be used like tablets.