What does browser control get you?

In the fever dreams of 1995, the assumption was that such control would define the Web and give the owner of the winning browser the same power over the Internet that Microsoft had over Windows PCs.But does it?

Jason Hiner of TechRepublic writes that the day Microsoft most feared has arrived, in that control of the desktop has moved from the operating system to the browser.

In the fever dreams of 1995, the assumption was that such control would define the Web and give the owner of the winning browser the same power over the Internet that Microsoft had over Windows PCs.

But does it?

Some insight will be gained by the continuing evolution of 3D Web technology, which I reported on last month. Firefox is standing behind OpenGL, Microsoft has its DirectX. Which will win out?

If it's a game of he who owns the browser controls the Web, Google's efforts with its Chrome browser make all sorts of sense. But if browser market share is to be believed, Microsoft has few worries. Internet Explorer still dominates.

Which leads me to the heretical thought that maybe we were wrong, and that control of a browser means less than we thought it would.

While browsers are important, and like Hiner I have a Web-based e-mail account, there are other important Web applications. In my case, my RSS reader is very important.

This can result in incompatibilities. I have noticed lately that my reader does not have the latest version of Flash, so some videos won't display inside it, and neither for some reason will some pictures.

This is not a big deal. If I care I open the item in a browser. Many sites truncate RSS feeds because they want you to do this, it makes for more ad revenue.

I should also add that I have multiple browsers. I use Explorer to write these blog posts. I use Chrome to research them. I use Firefox for shopping.

That's because, for some time, Wordpress support for Explorer was best, because Chrome's design lets me close tabs without a memory penalty, and because I have a plug-in for Firefox that carries my identification. My guess is many, many people use multiple browsers, each for their own reason.

So where is the control? To some extent it lies in a number of different Web applications. But to some extent it does not exist at all.

HTML standards are mostly set. Efforts at improving them, at changing them, have bogged down in recent years. So it is difficult to say that even an open process can define new standards going forward.

Web standards, in the end, will be defined by a continuously shifting, and hyper-competitive, marketplace, something no one vendor, nor even open source, can fully control.  Which is fine with me.