Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

Summary: Microsoft's next browser, released in beta today, treats websites as applications. By moving the focus of activity up off the desktop into the browser, IE9 concedes the supremacy of cloud computing.

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It seems mightily ironic that it should be a new browser release from Microsoft, of all people, that finally treats websites as applications. It's been a long time coming — a decade at least — but I felt a sense of quiet satisfaction when I read Ed Bott's review of the IE9 beta release, especially the second page on treating websites as apps.

I still remember back in 1999-2000 being shown a number of so-called web operating systems, which attempted to turn the browser into a workspace that both emulated and sought to replace the Windows desktop. Now Microsoft itself is conspiring to turn the browser into an application windowing system that, while tuned to take advantage of the underlying client environment, is at the same time independent of it.

IE9 effaces itself by adopting a minimalist frame and giving users the option of pinning shortcuts to individual websites to the desktop taskbar, treating them as if they were applications in their own right. Those shortcuts open a new browser window that's branded with the website's favicon and its dominant color, but which can still have other sites open in tabs within in it. Ed explains the advantage of this:

"It didn’t take long for me to begin creating groups of three or four related tabs for a common activity. For example, I have my blog’s home page pinned to the Taskbar, and I usually open Google Analytics and the WordPress dashboard for the site. Keeping those three tabs in a single group makes it easy for me to click the ZDNet icon on my Taskbar and find one of those tasks, which previously were scattered among dozens of open tabs."

This is a welcome convenience that underlines how dependent many of us now are on web-based applications in our daily routines. But as more and more applications shift to the cloud, we'll want much deeper integration between them than this (the phrase 'lipstick on a pig' comes to mind). IE9 will make it marginally easier to find your Salesforce.com contact list when a prospect email arrives in your Gmail inbox, but it's hardly going to transform the way you work. For that, you'll want much deeper integration of both data and process, all of which will take place in the cloud or the browser. IE9 moves the focus up off the desktop into the browser, and in doing so concedes the supremacy of cloud computing.

Topics: Software Development, Browser, Microsoft, Windows

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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26 comments
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  • Ed Bott: Verbose. Phil Wainewright: Concise, to the point.

    nt

    Phil Wainewright doesn't 'sugar coat' his point of view.

    Keep 'em coming.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      And You: Troll to the core
      redash79
      • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

        @redash79,

        I would usually agree with you about schmitz, however this is some what relevant. Ed Bott was mentioned in the article and his blog posts are more often than not "pro-Microsoft". They lack a sense of neutrality that would lend more credibility. This article is neither pro or anti-Microsoft. It does demonstrate Microsoft's acknowledgement that emphasis is shifting away from the desktop. Microsoft is obviously adjusting their strategy.
        bmonsterman
      • Up to this moment I can see only one troll here

        and the name he's using to post on zdnet ends with two numbers.
        OS Reload
      • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

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    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Ed Bott - thoroughly researches his material and gives you the facts.

      Phil has been writing fairy tales and describing castles in the cloud for some time now.

      Full marks for Phil's creative writing skills, but I'll take Ed for technical knowledge and facts any day.
      tonymcs@...
    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      In between downloading and compiling your endless distros for your Linux hobby, do you actually get time to use any of these "cloud" solutions? I'm glad to use Office Live if I'm stuck somewhere and need to edit a document, but use it instead of Office - I'm not that masochistic.

      Apparently you are.

      As for Phil, his blogs are as clear as mud and he's not tilting at giants, just windmills.
      tonymcs@...
  • It's refreshing to see that there's someone in Redmond that gets it

    And to see the windows team backing that someone who gets it is not just refreshing it is totally unexpected.<br><br>I guess there's still hope for Microsoft, after all. Let us hope that the nasty internal politics that rules there does not destroy another good idea as it has done some many times in the past.
    OS Reload
    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

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  • IE9 spells more trouble for Flash

    As I just read on twitter: <i>"IE9 is going to throw more dirt on Flash's grave than Apple could shovel."</i>

    So true!
    OS Reload
    • True...

      @OS Reload

      Apple has almost always set the direction, but it's not until the be behemoth follows that change truly happens. I don't think this is a surprise to anyone, including Apple. Microsoft's "clout" comes by way of the masses of mindless dolts that simply use IE by default, despite being years behind every other browser on the market. When they get there is less important than the fact that they do get there and bring at least basic HTML 5 features to the masses.
      techconc
      • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

        @techconc
        I think it's funny that you guys keep complaining about IE and HTML 5 features...when HTML 5 standards haven't even been released from W3C yet....who's a dolt?
        bmonsterman
      • Enterprises kept IE6 alive for too long

        @techconc
        IE6 was the mainstay of internal and B2B web apps for most enterprises. MS put a lot of extras into it to make it useful to building workflows around, not just personal browsing.

        Unfortunately, IE6 comes from a time when web standards were a very moving goalpost with a lot of competition to define what would become standard. Not that it has slowed down a lot today, but at least there are not the variations in the underlying DOM, because the standards are making sure they include the facilities business needs to have to make browser workflows reliable.

        At my current client (a bank), IE6 is still being used. I can't use it to do posts like this because it doesn't work. But it still works for all the business stuff and is stable.
        Patanjali
    • How?

      @OS Reload

      I don't see IE9 doing anything to Flash. People need to realize, and they need to realize fast, that HTML5 will not kill Flash. There are so many things that Flash does that HTML5 can't right now.

      So Flash will get h.264 (oh wait, it has it) and it will stick around for a long time.

      How will I9 even damage it? It supports flash, fyi.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

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  • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

    I read your blog, thought about it and re-read the headline. Are you saying that MS has started down the road of making Windows unnecessary for a lot of casual users?<br><br>If so, what are they going to sell them? Cloud services I presume, but that is a much tougher market for MS.
    Economister
    • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

      @Economister

      Microsoft will sell both Windows and cloud services. Cloud will never replace the local machine. There are apps that are too resource intensive for the cloud like graphics. Also there are privacy issues. The cloud isn't good enough for folks that have sensitive data. No, they will coexist like any other tech and will be chosen on the basis of what will work best for each particular model.
      osreinstall
      • I think the key phrase in my post was....

        @osreinstall <br><br>"casual user". I agree with your post completely, but a large percentage of MS customers (via OEM HW) don't need all the functions and power they are getting and have too much trouble keeping it running reliably and uncompromised. This is where the simple appliance running just a browser comes in. There may of course be enterprise applications of such simplicity also, but we will leave that aside for now.<br><br> I guess my question is whether MS is finally beginning to acknowledge that by desperately hanging on to its cash cows, it is cutting its own throat long term. Is IE9 any evidence of such an awareness?
        Economister
      • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

        @osreinstall

        Even with people who do not have sensitive data won't want to trust some things to the cloud. Vacation photos, etc. in case the 'cloud' or service they use disappears at some point in the future.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: Goodbye Windows, hello IE9 and the cloud

        @osreinstall <br><br>Economister<br>You will always need an OS so that cow is safe. It will run cloud apps and local apps. The office cow is iffy. Most folks run it in the corporate setting. Besides it will be doing both so the source will be the same.<br><br>Lerianis10<br>I don't trust the cloud and prefer to backup locally. It isn't hard for me, for all I did was make a simple batch file to only copy work over to multiple hard drives.
        osreinstall