Browser-Based Apps

David Lane from Linux Journal vent his frustrations over browser-based apps that is supposedly working regardless of operating systems citing two specific examples:

Sorry, but your system does not meet the minimum system requirements (Adobe). The all-new Yahoo! Mail has not been tested with your operating system (Yahoo).

What do these two messages have in common? In both cases, they were generated by trying to access the service or software from a Linux-based PC. I wish I could say it was because I am running 64-bit Fedora, or because I want to do something special with the sites, but sadly, that is not the case. In the case of Yahoo, I am just trying to access my mail box. It does work, but it “has not been tested,” which leads me to believe that if some feature fails to work as I expect it to, I am pretty much out of luck. In the case of Adobe, I need to download something called Adobe Digital Editions in order to read an electronic book from Cisco Press I guess this indicates that Cisco admins only use Windows or Apple as their desktop systems.

And this bothers me. It bothers me on a number of levels. Linux is no longer just for servers, nor has it been for more than ten years. Major corporations, like Cisco, are pressing for a larger Linux presence, working with development shops and providing software that interacts or runs on Linux.

A web mail client should not have to be “tested” to work with a specific operating system. It should be tested to interoperate with the HTML standards, but the operating system should be irrelevant. That is supposed to be the strength of n-tier systems.

One of the key points I gained from this year’s LinuxCon was that the desktop, as a meme, is dead. And by dead, I mean that it does not matter what the hardware or operating system is. It should not matter if you are accessing data via an Android-powered netbook or an Apple-powered tablet. Making the cloud work, means that the standards must be more than hardware and OS. And yet tools that are supposedly designed to make it easier to integrate and interoperate with the cloud and its data are still hamstrung by having to have a specific operating system, bit version, and CPU running underneath them.


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