Mozilla: The browser as operating system

Way back in the mists of time, the rise of Netscape and the Web was seen as putting pressure on Microsoft and its Windows monopoly because of what some called the “browser as operating system.” Much of that early promise — or fear — has yet to be realized, but looking at something like Ubiquity, the alpha software from Mozilla Labs, it looks as though it is coming closer. In effect, Ubiquity wants to tie together all of the Web-based software and services like Google Maps, Wikipedia and Twitter by using the browser, so that users can integrate them into things like email, instant messages and Web pages.

In the video below, Aza Raskin of Mozilla — who happens to be the son of legendary Apple designer Jef Raskin and is also the developer of the excellent music app — demonstrates some of the ways in which users could tie together different services with Ubiquity, by inserting a Google map and reviews of a restaurant quickly into an email to a friend. The app recognizes simple terms like “map these” (after a number of listings are selected), and different services can be added by simply subscribing to scripts that use Ubiquity’s code.

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Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.


Fred Oliveira thinks that Ubiquity could be a big deal, and I think Fred might be right. It may not happen right away, and it may not look exactly like Ubiquity does right now, but I think the idea of tying Web services together using the browser as a kind of platform or operating system makes a lot of sense. Aza Raskin has more on the launch here.

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