Will HTML5 Turn The Browser Into The Platform?
In my first blog post, I wrote about the possibility that HTML5 could spell the end (5 Things You Need To Keep In Mind About HTML5) for native applications on mobile devices. I argued that developers needed to think about this as they built out websites and applications in HTML5, designing instead for function rather than form factor.
I explored this concept with Microsoft evangelist Brandon Satrom (Talking HTML5: The Evolution of the Web) in my next post. Brandon stressed that HTML5 enables developers to build "cross-platform," but cautioned against the idea that HTML5 would spell the end of native mobile applications in particular. He added that there would continue to be a need for native applications, but agreed with me that the browser would increasingly be able to do more thanks in large part to improvements in HTML5.
In today's post, I want to explore another idea around HTML5 and its potential for developers. I think HTML5 more than any other technology has the potential to turn the browser into the computing platform of the next decade. In short, I think HTML5 could transform the browser into the new PC, spelling the end of the traditional desktop as we know it and possibly even upending much of the new smartphone paradigm to which we have rapidly become accustomed.
Sure, several technology trends have put the desktop on the ropes: enterprise cloud computing, the explosion of smartphones, the emergence of tablets, the growth of cheap, cloud-based online storage, etc. However, none of these earlier trends had the potential to bring a unified, scalable computing experience to any device on any network at any time without a unifying web standard. This is significant, I think, and something that developers cannot ignore.
HTML5 changes the game by allowing developers to be able to finally live up to the long unfulfilled promise of "write once, run many." By creating a unified standard for the web, HTML5 promises to complete the mission HTML started decades ago.
If you can envision a world where the browser can seamlessly launch any application or functionality, all the differences between devices – desktops vs. smartphones vs. tablets – become irrelevant. Developers can evolve away from the device balkanization that has confounded and slowed web development for the last decade and instead function on the application and experience, without being excessively encumbered by the limitations of device or OS.
Thanks to proliferation of the cloud, devices can run any number of applications on any kind of device, making device manufacturer and OS increasingly irrelevant.
When you add another layer of cloud computing, namely virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), into the mix, the game begins to look even more different.
The implications for developers are huge. Applications can be more rapidly shipped and scaled, changing the economics and the sociology of both proprietary and open source.
For the enterprise, the potential is just as great. IT can finally determine which applications and data sets to protect, and then deploy withdraw access to any device on any network as needed. If this trend plays out, we could one day see a world where IT never has to worry about managing local data on devices or the devices themselves.
What do you think? Do you think HTML5 will turn the browser into the computing platform of the next decade? Or am I way off base? Let me know and share your thoughts with the community.