The browser is not important anymore

Microsoft's announcement that they are phasing out standalone versions of Internet Explorer has stirred some discussions on the web. Most writers were angry because there is a lot to do with IE to make it a better browser. People were saying that since Microsoft is the de-facto monopoly in the browser market, they don't care for web developers and users. I think most people are looking the wrong way.

I think that Microsoft is phasing out the development of the browser because they think it is no longer important for them as makers of a front end platform, and a back end platform. I think they are right.

HTML, CSS and Javascript are a poor excuse of an interface development languages. (I know that HTML and CSS are not computer languages per-se but when we develop web pages, we program.) For some years now, we are struggling to create a good user experience inside the frame of the browser. Only the best succeed. Why? Because HTML was not meant to do what we try to do today.

Up until now, almost no one was able to break the frame of the browser. The "application inside a browser" was an axiom. Everything should work inside the browser. Why? 1. No need to install anything. 2. Every application (website) can work on any Operating System and browser.

Now, Microsoft is going to break this axiom. They say: we want to give our users a better experience and we own the market of front-end platforms. Let's do it.

  • Microsoft is going to give us a way to rapidly develop tcp/ip applications. They already have the .NET platform. Look at what happens with .NET RSS aggregators. New ones are popping every day.
  • Microsoft is going to give us a way of downloading the .NET applications from the browser and running it without the need to setup. Now, you have to download the .NET runtime and setup the application. Longhorn will come with .NET pre-installed and will have the capability of clicking and running applications.
  • The browser will not be important because it will only be a vehicle for bringing home the .NET application.
Who is the competition?
  • Macromedia Flash MX. Runtime for all platforms. Click & Run. Macromedia doesn't own the operating system.
  • Java. Runtime for all platforms. Click & Run. A huge promise that never really left the ground.
  • Mozilla. Available for all Operating Systems. Click & Run. A platform by itself.
How will win?



An agreed open and standard solution will be found for "tcp/ip applications outside the browser".

A personal perspective

In 1986 I started working with computers professionally. I programmed on a mini-computer called the DEC PDP 11/73. We communicated with the computer using dumd terminals called the VT100. The resolution of this terminal was 80X24 characters.

Ten years later I began designing for the Web. With the browser technology of those days I had less control on what happened on the screen than I had with the VT100.

Now, in 2003, I start seeing progress. The progress I envision is not of browser technology but in leaving the browser for what it can do well and start using non-browser technology for what the browser is not meant to be used for.

An example is Email. I am a client of, a great Email service with a good web interface. I can log on to my Email from any computer that is connected to the Internet. If non-browser technology will come true, I will be able to do the same, but when I will click a link, a good Email client will be downloaded on the spot, with my personal preferences and my Email. This is the way it should be done and I hope we are going this way.

Some final notes
  • Almost all my predictions here are based on what I read in the weblog of Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee who is the evangelist of Longhorn. Here's an example: " using a news aggregator (at Microsoft we call Internet apps that aren't in the browser "Smart Clients"), he can make better use of the information we're all putting out there. I totally agree."
  • I write bad English and I don't really know what I am talking about.

July 10th, 2003

Look outside the window. The graphics are amazing