Universal accessibility of one's programs and data is a very good thing, so for many aspects of computing, like email, having some fat client for Windows only, or Linux only, or something else only, is a poor option. And so what, should everyone be using character-based applications? Well, never mind that---but what could the web experience have been if things happened a little differently? Let us say Java had succeeded on the client (not to say that it won't do so, or some Java-like environment), and every computer one would come to in the Internet cafes of the world would have a Java VM installed. Then, when one went to, say, mail.yahoo.com, instead of getting the cumbersome pages we've become so accustomed to, a mail applet (probably cached locally, since a previous user had checked his Yahoo mail) would load in a few seconds, and then one would have the quick response and sleek interface of a local mail client, like Eudora or Thunderbird (Or Outlook. *cough*), as well as the near-ubiquitous access and server-stored data that web programs have today.
Think of the wars that have been waged throughout personal computing's years between devotees of WordPerfect vs. Word, Emacs vs. Vi, PageMaker vs. QuarkXpress---web-programs are geared towards a superficial knowledge of their layout, and in such a case, can there even be such a thing as a devotee?
For many types of web-pages, a traditional browser interface is indeed the best thing, but I hope that the future of computing won't be restricted to programs whose bodies are so conventional.
Wow, I feel nerdy right now. I think I'll go play with my pocket protector for a while.
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