Microsoft and Mozilla moving the Web towards Apps

by Maarten Swemmer Leave a reply »
Apps vs Web

Apps vs Web

Previously I wrote about the battle between Apps and the Web, how the battle drove an upward spiral where both are getting better and better and how Apps and Web will inevitably grow together. Mozilla (the developer of Firefox) and Microsoft (Internet Exporer) are now both taking their own steps towards that.

Today Internet Exporer 9 has been launched. It offers lots of improvements and it would go too far to describe them all here, but one of the interesting things related to Apps and the Web is that a website now easily (virtually) becomes an App, by ‘pinning’ a website to the taskbar, like you could already make a shortcut to any other application on your Windows 7 taskbar. Clicking the resulting icon on the taskbar will open the website and the windows will have a  kind of look and feel similar to the website within, with the Home button looking like the website’s icon and linking to the start page of the website. Internet Explorer 9 also offers the possibility to ‘tear off’ tabs from your Internet Explorer window and manage them like how you manage different application windows. That last thing is not really new, as Firefox had that already for a while.

Mozilla takes a different approach. In anticipation of the launch of Firefox 4 which will also offer lots of improvements like full support of HTML 5, it launched the Web Apps project. This project provides an environment for developers to create Apps that run in the browser (initially Firefox and Google Chrome will be supported). Next it will enable consumers to go to a Web App store and buy or freely obtain Apps that fully integrate with the browser. The big advantage of these Apps compared to iPhone or Android Apps it that they will run anywhere, so not just on your phone or pad.

Both initiatives are steps towards blending Apps and the Web and they promise great user experiences in the future.