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Browser Wars 6: Look Ma, No Browser!

An SxSW institution now, the sixth browser wars panel brings together mavens from Google (Chrome), Microsoft (IE), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera) to talk about the evolution of the web platform; as with years past, Apple participation is unlikely. Punchy discourse fueled by hard-hitting questions, many submitted by the audience, make this panel what it is.

This year's theme, once again expressed with tongue firmly in cheek, is the tendency to "vanish" the browser, whether this is application structure on Windows 8, "Boot to Gecko" from Firefox, DVRs with a web client, or assessment of browsing on Android. Often, mobile users simply use the default browser, without an obvious upgrade path. Where's the browser the web needs now?

We'll take stock of the state of the actual web platform, including ongoing developments in JavaScript, new API capabilities (including cryptography and device capabilities), graphics and gaming initiatives, and identity initiatives.


  1. Where's the web browser itself actually going in the future? Netflix is working on HTML5 assuming web clients on DVR devices, and whole operating systems are based on HTML5 now. What does the future hold?
  2. Android upgrades occur infrequently, analogous to IE upgrades back in the day. This means users are stuck with the default browser for a very long time. Why is this the case? Is this carrier lethargy, or something technical? What can we -- the digital cognoscenti -- do about it?
  3. JavaScript continues to evolve capabilities, but there continue to be efforts at diversifying the language base of the web (e.g. Dart). Let's take stock of all this. What's going on within the smoke filled hallways of TC-39, the standardization committee behind JavaScript? And, are we selling the world short by only having this one language for everything? WHY should we always bet on JavaScript?
  4. Are the new cryptographic APIs introduced into the web platform going to change the unsafe ways we currently authenticate, read email, and share things on social networks? If so, how exactly? And, how do we explain these changes to users?
  5. There's a trade-off between a curated "nice" mobile experience, and the messiness of the whole entire World Wide Web. For example, Safari for iPhone only recently introduced an HTML file picker, which has been in existence for over 10 years everywhere else. They may have gotten things right by making those choices. Do we clean up the web, or bet on it as it is, taking users along for the ride?



Arun Ranganathan, Maven,

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