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Does HTML5 and Google's Backing of WebGL Mean the Death of the Desktop?

  • April 30, 2010
  • By Developer.com Staff

Whenever a new technology comes out, someone proclaims that it will kill off all older technologies. Linux Magazine's Joe Brockmeier wrote this week that HTML5 and Google's support for WebGL marks the end of the desktop as we know it.

"Stick a fork in the desktop, it's done! Recently Google demoed a port of Quake II to WebGL and HTML5, showing that even first person shooters are suitable applications to run in the browser," Brockmeier proclaimed.

Brockmeier argues that soon all applications will eventually be running in a Web browser. But he hedged a bit by saying that the desktop won't die quickly, but rather, it may take a year or two.

A huge hurdle is Microsoft Windows. Microsoft doesn't ship with OpenGL drivers, which WebGL is based on. It's all DirectX for Windows users.

"To rectify that, Google is working on Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine (ANGLE)," Brockmeier said. "It's a BSD-licensed translation layer to allow WebGL API to work on top of DirectX 9.0."

Will the desktop be dead in the next couple of years as Brockmeier claims? Probably not, but coupled with cloud computing and rapidly improving Web development technologies, that's the direction we're heading.

There's also the whole issue of a lack of high-speed Internet access in many rural ares of the US and around the globe.


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