Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Has Google just validated Microsoft’s Software + Services

Very interesting post from Google about their Native Code project, which is essentially a browser plug-in that lets developers execute native code on the user’s PC rather than server-side.

The Google Blog post starts like this:

“Modern PCs can execute billions of instructions per second, but today’s web applications can access only a small fraction of this computational power. If web developers could use all of this power, just imagine the rich, dynamic experiences they could create.”

That’s exactly what Microsoft has been saying for a long-time. What’s the use of having all this computational power on the PC if we run all of our computations across the cloud? 

I guess you could say that Google’s approach is Services + Software, although it’s worth pointing out that the developer documentation does indicate that you can run Native Code applications without a browser. The only real difference then between the Microsoft approach and the Native Code project is that Google’s effort adopts OS and Browser portability as a core foundation of the effort. 

From my read, the Native Code project will give developers far more power to exploit the desktop’s processing power than other like-efforts, the most obvious of which is Java. However, in doing so it really is going to open up a Pandora’s box of security issues and you can see from the Google blog post that security is something it admits is going to be a problem and that is going to require a community-wide effort to deal with.

Microsoft can probably quite rightly argue that for all the flack Windows gets on a security front, it is absolutely lightyears in front of an effort like Native Code.

So the question is, how important these days is OS/browser portability vs security. 

I’d suggest they’re both bloody important and that’s why Javascript rules the roost. Javascript is getting faster and better all the time and with new standards on the way like HTML 5 and better browser support like what Google has delivered in Chrome, one has to ask do we really need to build apps along the Native Code route?

The fact that no-one has built a decent online competitor to most-all of Adobe’s applications, the fact that I still find Google Docs absolutely useless when it comes to printing documents and so on, suggests there are many places Javascript and AJAX just can’t go right now. Who will get where first is the question nobody can answer, but in the meantime Native Code will be worth keeping an eye on.

Filed under: AJAX Challenge

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