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How to stop Apple and Google's great web lockdown

HTML5 plus JavaScript, the new open source

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Enter the Fox

Indeed, it was great to see Mozilla's director of Firefox development, Mike Beltzner, take Apple to task for its closed approach to a web app store. I've criticized Mozilla for becoming lazy with its Firefox development, but recent performance enhancements and Beltzner's evangelism are a potent reminder that we need a neutral third-party, open-source web browser, one capable of keeping everyone in the HTML5 standards game.

One unintentional casualty of this web app war is Java. It's very possible that Java's promise of "write once, run anywhere" will be fulfilled and displaced by HTML5 and JavaScript that, as Forrester principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond reasoned to me, has the benefit of offering developers both client-side and server-side coding opportunities. Without the former it's hard to see HTML5-plus-JavaScript gaining mass adoption, because newbie developers generally learn to code on the client, not on a server.

This shift to HTML5/JavaScript may be accelerated by Oracle's lawsuit against Google over its allegedly improper use of Java, Hammond suggests.

Regardless, the move to HTML5 and JavaScript is well underway, and promises widescale changes to how the industry operates. It might even pave the way for broader adoption of Linux-based desktops beyond Google's Chrome OS, given that it solves one of client-side Linux's greatest weaknesses: applications.

It will be fascinating to watch. I expect each of the big consumer computing giants to seek to tweak its adoption of standards to suit its own purposes, but given that Google's motives and momentum tend to favor a more open approach, I'm hopeful that we'll see a truly open HTML5-plus-JavaScript future. ®

Matt Asay is chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfreso's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open-source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears every Friday on The Register.

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