But a full-fledged browser. One that behaves, however, as a platform to host applications best tied to cloud computing with built-in local persistence for offline computing. Sure, in its current form Chrome can’t compete with Silverlight or Flex/AIR for what Adobe calls “expressiveness,” meme-speak for rich graphics, animations, integrated video and other visual UI goodies.
Chrome may shut it off for good. It’s possible that various open source Chrome technologies could melt into Safari and Firefox. But –– whether as a stand-alone product or a progenitor of fast, powerful and expressive browsers –– Chrome signals to anybody but the diehard Microsoft constituents that the browser itself, not a proprietary plug-in or a separate runtime, is the future of RIAs. With its huge ecosystem, Microsoft can live with that. At least until its enterprise monopoly seriously erodes. But Adobe cannot.
In a world where the online pie is divided among the .NET army of Microsoft, the browser-gang of Apple+Mozilla+Google, and the lone Adobe, it’s not difficult to predict whose share will shrink into insignificance. If the exclusion of Flash from the iPhone wasn’t a wake-up call for Adobe, Chrome should certainly be one.
Most of the commentary is focused on the browser within an operating system angle. Although one of the easter eggs is a familiar screensaver. I think it's more helpful to concentrate on the fact that these browsers are getting rich enough to remove the applications embedded within browsers. There is already a lot of functionality developed or being developed such as SVG and storage (part of HTML 5). Chrome ships with Gears though and Webkit, to see how HTML5 and Gears relates see Aaron Boodman's talk on implementing HTML5 in Gears. They create two namespaces one for implementing the standard APIs and one for non-standard APIs - it seems like it has quite a solid development process behind it. Is there really a lot of reason left to support these proprietary applications within applications?