In order to sell Longhorn when it launches, Microsoft has been trying to convince everyone of the importance of rich clients. Microsoft will lose its lock on the operating system if the only thing that people run on them are browsers. Meanwhile, CIOs love thin-client applications because of the additional overhead that rich clients bring to desktop management. Sure, desktop management tools like LANDesk and Altiris reduce the burden, but it never goes to zero.
Microsoft wants CIOs to believe that the choice between rich clients and thin clients is mutually exclusive. You can be rich or you can be thin, but you can't be both. Interestingly, Google and others are demonstrating that thin clients can be rich as well.
If you've used Google's GMail, you're probably aware that its interface is more natural than most Web applications. Still, it's obviously a Web application. For a better idea of what's possible, take a look at Google Suggest. This version of Google offers suggestions as you type. It's kind of fun to put in a few letters and see what suggestions come up. >