I asked the IE team for its take on Silk and was told Microsoft had no comment. Microsoft has been tweaking its browsing performance with IE 9 and 10 by taking advantage of hardware accelerated graphics processing and various caching improvements. Microsoft officials have never spoken of plans to offload any of IE's processing to Windows Azure or the Microsoft cloud. Microsoft is maintaining two versions of IE -- one for PCs and one for Windows Phones (though both are currently known as IE 9).
Amazon isn't the first to take this route, as other bloggers have noted. Opera's been down the hybrid device/cloud browsing road with Opera Turbo.
"Amazon's approach is out of the ordinary in one respect – no other tablet manufacturer has delivered an approach quite like this. Admittedly, no other manufacturer has had to," said Wes Miller, an analyst with the independent Directions on Microsoft firm. Miller notes that the Kindle Fire only features 8 GB of storage, requiring most users to keep the bulk of their content -- music, movies, TV shows and apps -- in the cloud.
"CDNs (content delivery networks), including Amazon’s are already used today to cache frequently requested components of websites – JS libraries and CSS content that change infrequently across pages are the usual suspects involved here. It’s a creative use of their own technology and infrastructure," said Miller. "At first glance it does not seem that far removed from the enterprise proxy servers of old, or even AOL, who used proxies for users within their own 'walled garden,' the difference being the use of the CDN, which may well already cache quite a bit of this content even without clients having ever requested anything."
Along with others across the Web, I've got a few questions about Silk after watching Amazon's announcement.
What happens if Amazon's EC2 goes down? How will Kindle Fire users access their content and data?
What kind of security mechanisms will be part of Silk, if any?
What's the rendering engine inside Silk? Is it Webkit? Is it some new proprietary technology? Update:
Silk is WebKit-based, uses Google’s SDPY HTTP-replacement protocol and supports Flash 10, ExtremeTech said.
Will Amazon suggest and/or require developers writing apps that will work on Kindle Fire to use Silk's rendering engine in their own applications?
How compliant is Silk with evolving Web standards like CSS3, HTML5, etc.?
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that “We don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service." Browser as a service, tablet as a service -- what's next?