IBM: Web browsers to change over the next few years

With its new Chrome browser, Google is already doing "interesting things" around multiprocessing and multithreading support, according to the director of strategy at IBM Lotus -- a company that's taking more of an interest in Chrome.

As the economy drives the Internet cloud to become more all enveloping, Web browsers till take on greater sophistication in 2009 and beyond, predicted Doug Heintzman, director of strategy at IBM Lotus, in an interview with BetaNews. While consumers and businesses figure out how to cope with sudden economic changes, they're trying to find ways to "get more" while spending less.

Browser-based cloud computing is a timely solution, because it lets people benefit from advanced information, communications, and collaboration services without the expense of either installing desktop software applications or investing in high-end computer infrastructures.

"Just take a look at weather and traffic Web sites," Heintzman illustrated. Most small businesses, for instance, would never be able to afford the supercomputer-based mapping and technical expertise needed to put together such a site.

But now employees of small businesses can access weather and traffic conditions on the Web, free of charge, whenever they want -- as can anyone else who has a PC or some other device equipped with a Web browser.

Meanwhile, Web browsers are increasingly being asked to perform functions they weren't intended to do originally, according to the strategy director.

Way back when, the browser was devised to "render the remote assembly of information chunks," Heintzman said. "But today, browsers need to take on more business-like sophistication."

Browser capabilities that still need honing include business logic flow, thread control, synchronization, replication, and authorization, he said.

Despite its continuing market dominance, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is facing increasing competition, he observed. A few other browsers include Firefox, Apple's Safari, Opera, and Google's new Chrome.

"With Chrome, Google is doing some very interesting things around multiprocessing and multithreading support," he contended.

"We'll also see functionality being added through plug-ins," according to Heintzman. Microsoft's Silverlight stands as one good example already, he acknowledged.

But Heintzman also pointed out that IBM has lately been giving demos of Blue Spruce, an emerging browser application development platform adding capabilities around application synchronization, conference management, and subscription-based push services.

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